P.O. Box 600
Contact: Mike Horan
RELEASE: March 11, 2004
Emergency Service Patrols celebrate 10 years
Program provides useful service to New Jersey commuters
(CHERRY HILL) - Noting the estimated 200,000 drivers that have been assisted since 1994, State Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere today recognized the employees of the NJDOT Emergency Service Patrol and the valuable service they provide to the motoring public in New Jersey.
"Serving more than 28,000 motorists each year, the ESP Program is a positive initiative that provides useful service to New Jersey's commuters," said Governor James E. McGreevey. "These patrols are another way we continue to meet our commitment of keeping the highways safe and improving the quality of life for residents."
Launched in 1994, the Emergency Service Patrol was charged with keeping highway lanes clear, reducing congestion and increasing safety for all motorists. Its development was a cooperative effort between NJDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and the State Police. ESP provides assistance to the motoring public with disabled vehicles, assists with controlling traffic around accidents, as well as working with the State and local police and fire departments and emergency personnel with incident management.
"From assisting with minor breakdowns to supporting law enforcement around the state, the Emergency Service Patrol has demonstrated its value time and time again," said Lettiere. "It is my hope to expand this program even further, so that more New Jersey motorists can benefit from this helping hand."
Joined by representatives of the Federal Highway Administration and the New Jersey State Police, Lettiere honored several ESP employees, including Ryan McCann, a 23-year NJDOT employee who has been with the program since 1995. McCann was commended for his heroic actions last year in which he saved the life of a patient trapped in a burning ambulance overturned on an Interstate 76 ramp in Bellmawr.
"We are very proud of NJDOT 'family members' like Ryan and all our ESP crews," noted Lettiere. "These individuals provide a valuable service to New Jersey's motorists, offering assistance and a reassuring hand whenever there is a need."
Along with McCann, three other ESP employees, Rudi Edwards, Darnell Fagg and Mike Metcalf were congratulated for ten years of service with the program.
In its ten years of existence, the program has grown from only eight trucks patrolling 50 miles of roadway to the current patrol of more than 30 trucks over 230 miles of interstate and state highways. Specially marked ESP vehicles can be found stretches of I-76, I-78, I-80, I-95, I-195, I-280, I-287, I-295, I-676 and Routes 29,42, 55 and 440. The NJDOT is working to expand patrols on another 48 miles of roadway by Fall 2004.
Those individuals on the receiving end ESP assistance have also let their appreciation be known, sending more than 600 letters and e-mails of "thanks" per year. In 2003, the department received over 1,000 pieces of correspondence.
William Danks, one of the many motorists assisted by the Emergency Service Patrol, noted the actions of one off-duty crewmember, Richard Casmer, several weeks ago. Danks and his wife wrote to Lettiere expressing their gratitude for Casmer's help in taking care of their vehicle broken down off of Route 55.
"He pulled in behind me shielding my car from the heavy flow of traffic coming up the ramp. He provided me with the phone number of the local police and then stayed with us until they arrived. All in all, he was out there with us, off-duty, for the better part of an hour," wrote Danks.
In addition the NJDOT program, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which oversees the Atlantic City Expressway, initiated its own Emergency Service Patrol in May 2003. Its patrols have assisted nearly 9,000 motorists and have received nearly 200 "thank you" letters per month.