CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Transportation hosted another successful Highway Heroes event on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds, where hundreds of residents and families from across Central Virginia showed up to learn about the role of first responders on the state’s roadways and the tools they use to address various traffic incidents.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors were treated to live demonstrations from first responders partnering with VDOT for the free event, such as fire crews, medic units and police officers from divisions across the greater Richmond area. Visitors learned about the work of first responders through a simulated crash scene, and three medic helicopters at the site showcased rescue methods to the audience.

According to Christopher Rusk, VDOT’s incident management coordinator, the department partners with local schools to bring in as many students as possible to the event each year. Rusk told 8News that approximately 4,000 people attended Highway Heroes last year.

The event offers an occasion for visitors to enjoy time with their families while simultaneously learning about roadway safety and the work of first responders, including VDOT employees.

“Our contract safety patrol workers are out there providing aid to people on a daily basis, whether they run out of fuel or have a flat tire. [The workers] also respond to very severe incidents — there’s been incidents where they’ve saved lives, they’ve pulled people out of burning cars, they’ve done CPR on the roadside and things like that, so [the job] is almost a first responder role,” Rusk said.

Rusk also emphasized the importance of traffic safety, highlighting how drivers can help VDOT and its partners make the roadways safe for travel every day.

“Essentially the roadway is our office — whether it’s blue lights or red lights or yellow lights — we just like people to move over and give us plenty of space when we’re working there in order to avoid deaths or injury among highway workers,” he said.

Check out photos from the event below!

Photo: VDOT / Twitter
Photo: VDOT / Twitter
Photo: VDOT / Twitter
Photo: Howard Williams / 8News