Category Archives: Public Responsiveness

Driving Safe in an Earthquake

 

Thursday, April 20 Utah participated in the Great Shakeout, a day dedicated to earthquake preparedness. Did you know, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Utah is one of the top 10 states in the country most prone to earthquakes. Since you likely won’t be in an ideal location when an earthquake hits, we’ve compiled some tips if you find yourself driving when an earthquake hits.

  • Safely pull over and stop the car. If you’re on a freeway, take the first exit that’s safe and find a safe open space to park in, avoiding overpasses, tall trees, power lines, bridges, and buildings.
  • Stay in your car with your seat belt fastened until the earthquake is over.
  • Check the radio for updates. Most stations will switch over to emergency broadcasting, which will keep you posted on any area dangers.

After the shaking has stopped, be cautious before starting back on the road as you won’t know what’s bee damaged. Watch closely for damaged roads and be alert for panicked drivers. If the earthquake knocked out power, traffic lights may not be working. Treat these as 4-way stops.

Also, make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit in your car. Damage following an earthquake may be so severe, you won’t be able to drive. You’ll need to be ready to survive in your car until help arrives. Some items to include in a car kit are:

  • First-aid kit
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • An extra pair of clothes
  • A flashlight
  • Hand-held radio (in case your car battery dies)
  • Extra batteries
  • Bottled water or tablets that can purify water
  • Dried or canned food and something to use for opening the cans
  • A portable fire extinguisher
  • Maps — these will come in handy if you need to take a detour after the quake and your smartphone runs out of juice

Check out the BeReady.gov for more tips on being ready for natural disasters at home or on the road. You can also quiz yourself on road readiness during an earthquake with this interactive game by AAA.

Local Eagle Scout supports IMT Teddy Bear program

When Clark Fox decided to collect stuffed animals for his Eagle Project,  he was totally surprised with the result. The high school junior from Riverton, Utah collected roughly 600 stuffed animals, which were then given to UDOT’s Incident Management Team, the Utah Highway Patrol, and various homeless shelters for distribution to children who find themselves in traumatic situations.  He delivered the animals to the Traffic Operations Center in December and was thanked on behalf of the organizations that will receive the stuffed animals.

Jeff Reynolds, the Roadway Safety Manager and first responder from the IMT department, told Clark stories of the happiness, joy and calming effect he sees firsthand when the stuffed animals are given to children after an incident on the highway.

Clark and his family were then given a tour of the TOC by Wayne Jager to show all the areas that the TOC covers. Clark has a love of “robotics”, so maybe someday we’ll see Clark back at UDOT working on a drone project in the future.

L-R: somebody, IMT manager Jeff Reynolds, Clark Fox, ___ and TOC Director Rob Clayton pose after Fox delivered hundreds of stuffed animals to the IMT for distribution

L-R: Richard Shelley, IMT manager Jeff Reynolds, Clark Fox, Clark’s mom, and TOC Director Rob Clayton pose after Fox delivered hundreds of stuffed animals to the IMT for distribution

This post was written by Richard Shelley of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center.

Don’t get run over by a GRAMA

During this time of year, when we hear the word “GRAMA,” it is usually followed by the words: “got run over by a reindeer.”

But not for Brandi Trujillo.

Brandi is a member of UDOT’s risk management team. Part of her assignment is to respond to requests for information, documents and materials made through Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act – otherwise known as GRAMA requests. And those requests come in at a rate of about two requests per working day – even during the holidays.

“The law is designed to give everyone – from the media to business and political interests to everyday citizens – access to public records,” Brandi said. “We do the public’s work with public money, and it’s the public’s right to know how and why we spend it.”

As a state agency, Brandi said, responding to these requests is not just a matter of law. “UDOT has identified transparency as one of our primary emphasis areas,” she said. “We really believe in that. So responding to these requests is important to us as a matter of principle, not just because we are required to do it.”

Grama Coordinator Brandi Trujillo processes GRAMA requests from her office.

Grama Coordinator Brandi Trujillo

Because UDOT intends to respond appropriately to GRAMA requests, UDOT’s attorneys feel it is important that employees understand what kinds of records are subject to GRAMA scrutiny. Renee Spooner, who is an assistant Attorney General for the state of Utah and is assigned specifically to work with UDOT, said those records include:

  • Work product created in the course of employment
  • Email correspondence and written communication
  • Books
  • Letters
  • Documents
  • Papers
  • Maps
  • Plans
  • Photographs
  • Films
  • Cards
  • Tapes
  • Recordings
  • Electronic data

“Generally,” Spooner said, “the only protected documents are attorney work product and attorney/client communication. Everything else is fair game, regardless of its physical form or characteristics. So it is probably a good idea to remind employees to be sure that the language they use in all of these public records is appropriate, accurate and professional. You never know when a document, map or email you create may become part of a GRAMA request, legal case or news story.”

And nobody wants to get run over by a GRAMA.

Grama Coordinator Brandi Trujillo

All UDOT GRAMA requests are handled at Brandi’s office