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

3.15 What Worked and What Did Not Work

3.15.1 What Worked

Ability to Adapt to an Ever Changing and Growing Incident

Everyone agreed that while they have practiced drills in the past, the evacuation exceeded their practice sessions. While the incident exceeded the scale of past exercises, the local emergency management organizations were able to adapt to an ever-changing and growing incident. Based on their training, a successful coordinated evacuation response was achieved.

Establishment of an Incident Command Quickly

An incident command was established quickly, and all entities understood their roles, cooperated, and executed their missions. There appeared to be no internal bickering among the emergency management entities.

Information to the Media and the Public

Information was distributed to the media and they, in turn, communicated to the public the ever-changing, unfolding incident. The public was kept informed of the conditions at the Teris facility and actions taken to correct it and allow for the safe reentry of residents.

One Person in Charge and Delegation of Responsibilities

The nursing homes have written emergency procedures and have had partial evacuations in the past. While the nursing homes have practiced evacuations, they have not been on the scale of the January 2005 incident. Success can be attributed to one person being in charge of the evacuation and knowing what needed to be done, delegation of responsibilities to others, and the cooperation of community volunteers.

Practice and Experience of Various Entities

The practice and experience acquired by the LEPC and participating entities, along with the cooperation of all entities, resulted in a successful response to an incident that was beyond the practices to date.

Preplanning of the County Jail Evacuation

There are no written procedures for the evacuation of the county jail or for who should be contacted for the provision of transportation and temporary and overnight detention facilities. When the decision was made to evacuate the prisoners and the staff, calls had to be placed to find transportation services, a temporary detention facility, and an overnight detention facility. Despite the lack of written procedures, the evacuation of the county jail succeeded due to preplanning of this situation by the county sheriff.

Preplanning, Training, and Drills

As one interviewee comments, “Preplanning and drills helped achieve a successful evacuation.” Also, the incident occurred on a Sunday morning, when emergency management entities are not fully staffed. Another interviewee commented “on weekends, there are normally skeleton staff; however, the evacuation worked well…No one was seriously injured or killed.”

State of Readiness of the LEPC and Knowledge of an Eventual Major Disaster

The LEPC is an engaged entity within the community and has the foresight to know that eventually a disaster like this will happen. The LEPC is at a state of readiness and conducts training for an eventual community major disaster event.

Training Received, Frequency of Disaster Drills, and Experience Gained From Frequent Actual Disasters

The consensus based on the interviews was the evacuation succeeded because of the training received; the frequency of disaster drills, including a mass evacuation scenario; and experience gained from frequent actual disasters. For example, there have been partial evacuations of the city in the past, one due to an ammonia leak. However, the partial evacuations were never on the scale of the January 2005 incident.

3.15.2 What Did Not Work

Acquisition of Information from Others

There was a certain amount of frustration from emergency management staff on the ground, which had to acquire information from either the State Department of Air Quality or the EPA. Information from the two entities sometimes appeared to be slow in coming. Information from the on-site State of Arkansas hazardous material inspector flowed thorough Little Rock before being passed along to officials in the incident command.

No Official Evacuation Notice to a Nursing Home

There was no official notice given to the Oakridge Nursing Home of the need to evacuate, so they did not have a designated location to receive the patients and staff when they self-evacuated.

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