SIUE helps develop emergency responder safety program

SIUE engineering students are being honored for their effort to reduce hazards for first reponders.
SIUE engineering students are being honored for their effort to reduce hazards for first reponders.

Researchers from the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering are receiving national praise for their work to reduce fatalities and injuries involving first responders.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has named their project, “Development of a Highway Incident Management Operational and Training Guide: Phase II,” a Sweet 16 High Value Research project for 2015.

“We are proud that our hard work is being recognized for such an honor,” said Ryan Fries, associate professor and graduate program director in the SIUE School of Engineering. “The scenes of traffic incidents are vulnerable places for responders, and the safety of fire and rescue personnel, law enforcement officials and motorists is well worth protecting.”

Project participants from SIUE included Fries; Yuliang Liu, professor of instructional technology in the Department of Educational Leadership; and alumni Michael Williamson, Yuhui Qu and Patrick Gu. Also collaborating on the project was Huaguo Zhou, associate professor at Auburn University in Alabama.

The authors of the two-phased project worked closely with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Center for Transportation. Phase II of the program created online modules to supplement in-class training, which was developed in Phase I.

According to Fries, as of April 2015, more than 3,000 incident first responders have been trained using the materials he and his team developed. The Federal Highway Administration has fully endorsed the project for use at the national level.

“The training program brings together the collective wisdom of several different agencies that did not always train together,” Fries said. “The material in our training helps IDOT employees understand the roles of other responders more clearly and helps responders from other disciplines understand the basic principles of communicating with traffic.”

As a result of this training, researchers say the general public will likely experience consistent lane closures at incident scenes. Drivers may also benefit from more advanced warning of closed roads.

Families with college students would qualify to get fees and tuition covered for up to two years under a plan being pushed by state Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville.

“Families in my district want to be able to supply their children with a top-notch education but are finding it hard to do so when they aren’t in a stable financial situation,” Clayborne said in a released statement. “This agenda would alleviate some of that worry of wondering how they will afford to send their kids to college. This proposal focuses on the real needs of our middle-class families.”

The agenda unveiled Sunday contains other provisions such as a college tuition tax credit and minimum wage, among other provisions.

“This is not an out-of-the box agenda. This is an agenda that makes sense and helps real families with real issues,” Clayborne said.

If you’re considering earning a GED credential, now is the time, according to leaders of the Southwestern Illinois College Adult Education department.

Several free SWIC GED high school equivalency test preparation classes get underway in St. Clair and Madison counties in June. The classes are open to anyone who has not yet received a high school diploma.

Daytime GED classes will be offered Monday through Friday, June 8-26 from 9 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. or from 11 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. at the following locations:

▪  SWIC Belleville Campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave.

▪  SWIC Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, 4950 Maryville Road

▪  East St. Louis Community College Center, 601 James R. Thompson Blvd.

Class times and locations are assigned based on individuals’ availability and reading and placement scores resulting from a mandatory preregistration and orientation session. The orientations are held at the SWIC Belleville and Sam Wolf Granite City campuses and the East St. Louis Community College Center no matter where you will be taking the GED class.

For more information, call 618-235-2700, ext. 5525, or toll free in Illinois at 866-942-SWIC (7942), ext. 5525. Find information online at

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or 618-239-2626. Follow him on Twitter: @scottwuerzBND.