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ETO Program

Traffic incidents occur every day and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) typically manages them with minimal conflicts or complications. While severe incidents and larger emergencies do not occur very often, their impacts are significant and can be catastrophic.

When emergencies associated with severe weather, traffic incidents, construction, planned special events, and threats to security occur in the state, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is one of many agencies called upon to respond to the situation.

Emergency Transportation Operations (ETO) is a coordinated, integrated, and performance-oriented approach to operating the transportation system and supporting functions during emergencies. ETO addresses the procedures, processes, technology, roles, and relationships used in responding to incidents regardless of whether the transportation system is directly affected by an emergency or crisis.

ETO Guiding Principles

The guiding principle used for the ETO Program and Response is the Incident Command System (ICS).  ICS, as part of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a coordinated, consistent, and systematic approach to managing emergencies that involve a response from a number of different agencies.   The three major priorities of ICS by which every response is guided are: 1) Life Safety; 2) Incident/Event Stability; 3) Property Conservation.

Major initiatives related to the ETO Plan include basic guidance for State and local TIM programs in promoting safe, quick clearance process and laws, and guidance on developing or improving Service Patrols.

Spring and Fall Training Exercises

Twice a year, the ETO Program invites internal and external stakeholders to participate in cross divisional training exercises that are conducted in each of WisDOT’s regions. These tabletop exercises focus on managing real-life emergency scenarios within the state of Wisconsin, with the goal of confirming the strengths of agencies in Wisconsin while revealing any gaps that may need to be addressed in future training exercises. Each of these exercises are tailored to the unique challenges and resources that exist within each WisDOT region.

Typical Training Focuses

  • Extreme weather events
  • Work zone impacts
  • Tourism events impacts
  • Hazardous materials impacts
  • Communication with internal and external stakeholder
  • Natural/man-made disasters

More information about these exercises can be found on the ETO Training page.