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Pilot program gets high marks helping cities in crises
Lily Leung
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 31, 2008

Traffic wrecks. Downed power lines. Crime scenes.

At such emergency incidents, Surprise residents should expect not only fire and police to respond, but also members of REACT, the Regional Emergency Action Coordinating Team.

REACT provides high-quality traffic control at roadway incidents, allowing public-safety officials to focus on more important things like investigating and managing the emergency, said Faisal Saleem, the REACT program manager.

The Maricopa County Department of Transportation started the program in 2000, and since then, it has formed partnerships with five West Valley cities: Surprise, Peoria, Glendale, Tolleson and Avondale.

Surprise, the first and only city in the Valley to have its own satellite REACT, just wrapped up its pilot program this year and it was deemed a successful model by MCDOT, Saleem said.

The city got funding from the Maricopa Association of Governments for the Surprise REACT Project in 2004, and their satellite team was begun in May 2005.

In 2007 alone, the city's team responded to 250 calls and assisted MCDOT with 100.

By fiscal 2009, the cities of Peoria, Glendale and Scottsdale will start their own satellite teams, Saleem said.

"The idea was to provide incident management in arterials besides the freeways," he said. "As the program got established, the city of Surprise saw great value in the service that REACT provides, and sure, we'll use it as a model (for other cities)."

Saleem said the impetus for Surprise to have its own satellite team was traffic growth, especially on Bell Road, which is considered one of the busiest arterial roads in the state.

Now, the city will "transition to a more long-term, established team," he said.

Surprise Police Sgt. Randy Rody said he has found REACT's work to be "extremely helpful."

"Many times, a single officer or a group of officers needs backup with traffic incidents at night or during inclement weather," he said. "REACT is able to get there immediately to put signs in place, barriers and flashing lights to help us control the flow of traffic."

Surprise's REACT team has one full-time person and one backup, both of whom respond to incidents all over the Valley, Saleem said.

MCDOT's general REACT team has two full-time members, with up to 12 part-timers who respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.

http://www.azcentral.com/community/surprise/articles/0131gl-nwvreact0201.html

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