Highway Assistance Teams – or HATs – are in place across Iowa. Dena Gray-Fisher with the Iowa Department of Transportation says the teams were assembled as a precautionary measure to respond to emergency situations that may occur during the blizzard.
She says each team includes a snowplow operator and truck, a National Guard soldier with a Humvee, an Iowa State Patrol officer and Iowa DOT enforcement officer. The teams are located at seven Iowa DOT facilities in Sloan, Avoca, Grimes, Ames, Cedar Rapids, Coralville/Iowa City and Fairfield.
“These are kind of strategic locations that we think will serve most of the major highways,” Gray-Fisher said. The HATs could be called to action to search for and rescue motorists in locations where roadways are closed.
“But, generally, they’re getting their assignments from calls that are coming in to 911,” Gray-Fisher said. “Maybe it’s a hospital and they know a patient needs to get transported to them…and the (Highway Assistance Team) would be assigned to go escort them.”
Gray-Fisher says travel is not advised across most of the state unless it’s an emergency. In many locations, tow bans are in place. For the latest road conditions and closures, call 5-1-1 (in Iowa) or visit www.511ia.org.