Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

3.14 Lessons Learned

Several lessons were learned from the El Dorado incident.

Activate LEPC Members Early in the Incident

Based on the nature of the call, the evacuation personnel of the LEPC could have been notified of the need to report to the incident commander. For the next emergency, personnel may be activated quickly, whether they are initially needed or not.

Adopt a Neighborhood-Specific Early Warning System, if the Budget Allows

The current early warning system is citywide and not neighborhood specific. A warning system that can be used to warn specific neighborhoods could have been helpful. However, this is budget dependent.

Be Careful in Selecting Roadways for the Transportation of Prisoners

The selection of a roadway to transport prisoners can be dependent upon the characteristics of the roadway such as additional lanes and wide shoulders, which allow for the removal of accidents and no impedance to the flow of prisoner transportation.

Keep a Current List of Media Contacts and Include Alternate Numbers

The LEPC is working with the local broadcast outlets to determine procedures for advising citizens of emergency situations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result of the incident, the contact list for the media has been revised to include cell phone and pager phone numbers of the media contacts, rather than the station phone number.

Keep Current with the Emergency Management Plan

Several of the emergency management entities have received the All Hazards Emergency Management Plan but may not have been very familiar with it. Based on the El Dorado incident, the emergency management plan was “dusted off and reviewed and entities may be reviewing it periodically.”

Know the Location of Specialized Equipment to Transport Nursing Home Residents

Emergency management officials had never evacuated two nursing homes to the scale of the El Dorado incident. It was determined that nursing home residents require specialized transportation equipment such as wheelchair lift-equipped vehicles. After the incident, Union County Emergency Management was contacted by the Central Arkansas Developmental Council who said they could provide motorized wheelchair-lift vans in the future. As expressed, “it would have been better to have known about the resource before the incident.” The use of the specialized equipment and the offer of equipment will be taken into consideration for the next incident that involves the evacuation of nursing home residents.

Review Incidents (Including Others) for Lessons to be Learned

The LEPC is reviewing and evaluating the All Hazards Emergency Plan and will revise/tweak it accordingly. In addition, emergency personnel assisted in the Hurricane Katrina evacuation. When the emergency personnel returned, the LEPC leadership talked with the personnel to get their experience and, based on this information, did a self-assessment of the local emergency plan. They determined what could be revised based on the Katrina experience.

Test the Emergency Plan to Determine Whether It Works

The emergency plan was tested, and it worked. The experience of the incident resulted in a feeling of one more large incident they were able to successfully handle, and it helped instill confidence in the younger employees.

Use Reverse 911® to Alert the Community

Currently, the City of El Dorado does not have a functioning automatic notification message system. The city purchased a system that is unable to perform, and is pursuing litigation against the firm. The hope is that a system would be available for the next emergency.

Use the National Incident Management System

Use an incident management system for an incident. This was the first time that the national incident management system was used in El Dorado, and it was felt that the emergency management entities learned that the system would work.

Utilize a Unified Information Center

Initially, Teris established a communication center at a local hotel and the incident command established one at another location. Eventually, the two communication centers were unified into a single information center.

February 6, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-014