Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Freeway operations

Dial 911 for roadside emergencies.

Freeway operations

Freeway Incident Response Safety Team (FIRST)

FIRST truck using arrows to direct cars around a crash to keep traffic moving.
FIRST truck using arrows to direct cars around a crash to keep traffic moving

The FIRST program aims to minimize congestion and prevent secondary crashes by responding quickly and removing incidents. About half of the traffic congestion on Twin Cities freeways is caused by incidents such as crashes, stalled vehicles or debris in the roadway. These incidents also cause about 15 percent of freeway crashes. The FIRST program is a key component of the Metro Area's Incident Management Program.

What FIRST does

Reduce congestion

The FIRST program locates, assists, and removes stalled vehicles, crashes, and debris from freeway lanes.

Assist with traffic control and scene security

FIRST trucks are outfitted with portable message boards.

Support with first aid

 FIRST personnel are trained as EMS first responders.

Clear the roadway

FIRST trucks can push disabled vehicles out of the traffic lanes and they assist in removing debris. All FIRST trucks have push-bumpers to remove vehicles from the traffic lanes. FIRST trucks do not provide towing services.

Help with emergency vehicle repairs

FIRST trucks provide enough gas to get to the nearest service station. They use an air compressor, floor-jack and tire iron for flats. Floor jacks lessen the time to change a flat tire (quicker than it would take an average motorist to set up a scissor-type jack). FIRST trucks supply coolant, water, and duct tape for radiator hose repairs.

When FIRST trucks are on the road

FIRST trucks patrol 11 routes, covering 220 miles of metro area freeways. They are on the roads from 3:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, with limited coverage on the weekends.

How they know when to respond

FIRST trucks are dispatched by our Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC). The dispatcher uses a Global Positioning System to track FIRST vehicles and can find the closest vehicle to an incident so they can respond as quickly as possible.

The Highway Helper series is important for keeping the freeway safe and clean. Drivers provide help to stranded motorists by clear incidents on the freeway system in a timely and safe manner.

FIRST jobs

Highway Helper series jobs

  • Highway Helper
  • Highway Helper Senior
  • Highway Helper Supervisor

Find Highway Helper series job openings

  1. Go to mn.gov/careers
  2. Click “External Applicants”
  3. Under “Agency”, on the left side of the page, click “Transportation Department”
  4. Under Job Family, on the left side of the page, click “Manufacturing/Equip Careers” (if available).
  5. If “Manufacturing/Equip Careers” is not an option, use the keyword search to find other opportunities.  Keep checking back, our positions change daily!