El Paso Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Program
The Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program in the TxDOT El Paso District launched June 15, 2020. The program, aimed at improving safety for motorists and first responders, consists of specially trained staff and a fleet of patrol vehicles that assist on El Paso County’s three major highways: I-10 from Transmountain Rd. (MM6) to Horizon Blvd. (MM38); Loop 375 from I-10 West (RM11) to Paisano (RM59) and US 54 from McCombs (RM34) to Loop 375 (RM20).
Each shift consists of five trucks and one tow truck. The program operates Mon-Fri: 5am-9pm and two trucks and one tow truck on Sat, Sun: 9am-9pm.
Crews provide the following services at no cost:
- Emergency temporary traffic control at incidents
- Clearing of light debris from incidents
- Assist law enforcement move minor non-injury incidents off the highway to reduce secondary crashes
- Remove stranded or abandoned vehicle from travel lanes and/or shoulders
- Change flat tires, add air to low tires
- Provide gas, diesel, water
- Battery jump start
- Minor vehicle repairs
- Cell phone service, drinking water to stranded motorists
The program has its own dispatchers and receive additional vigilance from the TxDOT team at the TransVista Center, who keep watch via the District’s camera system.
The El Paso HERO fleet has also been instrumental in severe weather response and critical to emergency responders.
“The HERO Program has helped the El Paso Police Department by maintaining the flow of traffic, which also aids the safety of the roadway,” said El Paso police officer Adrian Cisneros.
HERO vehicles are equipped with digital message signs and cameras that can send live images back to help with incident management.
“Sometimes a stranded motorist is just out of gas or just needs a jump, and that’s the type of call that the El Paso Police Department would get, but because of the HERO program and their quick response, they’re able to get to that stranded motorist and get back on the road before we’ve even been able to get dispatched,” Cisneros said.
Motorists in need of assistance can call 915-790-HERO (4376).
Drivers should be vigilant and move over for responding units.
The Move Over or Slow Down law requires drivers to move over a lane or slow to 20 mph below the posted speed limit when approaching emergency vehicles, law enforcement, tow trucks, utility service vehicles, TxDOT vehicles or other highway construction or maintenance vehicles using visual signals or flashing lights on the roadside. On roadways with posted speed limits of 25 mph or less, drivers must reduce their speed to 5 mph.
Drivers who fail to give emergency and work crews space to safely do their jobs can receive a ticket with a fine of up to $200. If there is a crash that causes injury to a worker, drivers can be fined up to $2,000.