New Jersey has trained more than 9,000 police, firefighters and other first responders in traffic incident management — hands-on skills at the scene of a highway accident or medical emergency.

With the completion of a "Train the Trainer" class in Middlesex County, which brought 165 responders together from 134 different response agencies, New Jersey has reached a new milestone of first responders trained in this field.

"We are giving first responders the tools to be better prepared during a traffic crash, proper blocking procedures to make sure the scene is safe, and also working to clear the road safely and quickly for the motorists who might be stuck," state Department of Transportation Director of Traffic Operations Sal Cowan said.

"Secondary crashes are some of the nastier crashes that we see in the state. And if we can get the road reopened from a crash, quickly and safely, we are protecting those responders as well."

Cowan says the training is ongoing.

"We want to work to train all responders in the state, and we are pushing to make it a requirement," he added.

"The department works very well with other first responding agencies, such as the New Jersey State Police, the Division of Fire Safety, and the Office of EMS to be able to put together 4-hour classes."

He said a key element in managing an accident or emergency is responsible drivers who help by slowing down and moving away from the scene as safely as possible.

"Drivers are the one variable that is always unique to a crash," he said. "When you are approaching an accident scene, it is always important to look for those symbols, look for the signs that say 'emergency scene ahead.'"

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

Also on WOBM: