OverviewMnDOT initiated the FIRST program in December 1987 with three routes covering 40 miles. Since then, the program has expanded and today there are 11 routes covering 220 miles of metro area freeways.
Six to ten brightly colored OSHA-green pickup trucks patrol the freeways from 3:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with some limited coverage on the weekends.
FIRST are dispatched by the MnDOT's Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC). Using a Global Positioning System to track vehicles, the dispatcher can find the closest vehicle to an incident so they can respond as quickly as possible.
- Reduce congestion by locating, assisting, and removing stalled vehicles, crashes and debris from freeway lanes.
- Assist State Patrol with traffic control and scene security at crash scenes - FIRST trucks are outfitted with portable message boards as seen in the pictures below.
- Push disabled vehicles out of the traffic lanes and assist in removing debris - all FIRST trucks have push-bumpers to remove vehicles from the traffic lanes.
- Assist State Patrol with first aid at crash scenes - FIRST personnel are trained as EMS First Responders.
- Assist with emergency vehicle repairs - provide enough gas to get to the nearest service station; use an air compressor, floor-jack and tire iron for flats; and supply coolant, water, and duct tape for radiator hose repairs. Using their floor jacks, FIRST can often have a flat tire changed in the time it would take an average motorist to just set up a typical scissor-type jack.