By Kathleen G. Sabado
Every now and then, we see these men wearing yellow hard hats and traffic vest matched with yellow or white shirt and denim pants along the carriageway doing sorts of things. They are the gallant men of the Incident Response Team (IRT) who laboriously clean road crash debris, manage oil spills, set-up heavy lane closures for subcontractors doing road repair, organize counterflow set-up, assist in clearing operations during force majeure, and install temporary signage.
Here at Sector 3, there are three teams of IRT. They are commonly referred to as “Lima One”, for the response team attending to incidents at SFEX to Porac area, “Lima Three” for the team at Porac to Tarlac area, and “Lima Two” for the team in charge of safety and repair of damaged roadway furniture.
After my 7-year stay here in NLEX, I just learned why they are called ‘LIMA’. It is because of the call sign for the ‘Leadman’. Each team is composed of a Leadman/team leader, an operator who is also the driver of the intervention vehicle, and a rigger who is the helper during cleaning and lifting tasks and conducts inventory of their equipment such as the traffic cones and beacon lights.
From the time of dispatch, they make an effort to be there the soonest possible time as they are required to arrive within at least 14 minutes to the site to alleviate the traffic situation and clear road blockages. Note that the longer it takes for them to arrive, the longer the traffic queue will be, and more motorist complaints will arise. Nonetheless, they are there whenever and wherever they are needed, day or night, rain or shine.
In a recent interview with Mr. Kelvin Arca, Roadway Supervisor of Sector 3, he relates that the most memorable incidents responded to by his men are road crash incidents with causalities or fatalities. They also share their experiences during natural disasters, the most recent of which was during Typhoon ‘Paeng’ when they were tasked to recover and secure the fallen traffic tower of the Tarlac Barrier and the fishbone toll booths that were damaged and blown away by the strong winds. Despite being cold and dripping wet, they still completed their task.
With passion to serve motorists, they render more than their 12-hour duty whenever the outgoing team could not disengage from the incident site and wait for site turnover with the incoming team. There are also uneventful days when they could take it easy while waiting for their next dispatch.
To join the IRT, one must possess Filipino values like “pagiging masipag, masunurin, maabilidad, madiskarte, at mapagkumbaba. He quips that “kahit anong galing ng isang tao kung mayabang naman, walang mapupuntahan sa karera” (“No matter how good you are, if you are arrogant, you won’t succeed in your career.”)
Speaking of exemplary, Mr. Arca commends the following personnel for their exemplary performance of duty:
- Leadman Ariel Lucas, he is obedient and knows all aspects of their operations. He is considered a ‘jack of all trades’;
- Leadman Dave Miranda, he is like Leadman Lucas, only younger;
- Operator Noel Gabriel can be a leadman anytime soon;
- Operator Jonathan Magpayo works with initiative. He is pro-active and is dependable like Optr. Gabriel;
- Rigger Raymond Olguir can easily understand instructions and carries them out eagerly;
- Rigger Randy Corpin is very prudent and organized with equipment handling and inventory; and
- Water Truck operator Benjamin Fortuna and crew Ricky Gantan are also laudable for their earnest and timely response to grass fires, with Sector 3 having a lot of incidents.
Mr. Arca adds that he values the opinions of his teammates, and he is always open for discussion on how to improve their operations. “Mahusay, maagap, maasahan, tapat sa tungkulin, magalang, matiisin, at mapagpasensya are other qualities he looks for in aspiring team members. He is proud to note that his men are well-trained and TESDA-certified, and needs more men to fill manpower requirements. Of course, we are not getting younger, the old will be replaced by the new but the new must be more than just qualified. He strongly believes that they must live up to Savvice’s motto, “Excellence beyond measure.”
***Mr. Kelvin Arca is a graduate of Civil Engineering (2015) from Angeles University, and is also a Construction Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) certified Safety Officer. He has been working with a construction firm before joining SAVVICE, where he currently works for two years now.
Kathleen G. Sabado, Traffic Operations. Khate has been with the company since 2015. She started out as a lady Patrol Crew and has been awarded for her meritorious performance by TMC/NLEX Corp. and LTO. In 2018, she joined the Traffic Investigation Section and has been recognized as the only female traffic investigator in the tollways industry by TRB.