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

6.15 What Worked and What Did Not Work

6.15.1 What Worked

Delegation of Responsibilities

During the evacuation of the hospital, tasks were delegated and assigned to various staff members. By focusing on the tasks at hand, staff concentrated on evacuation of the residents and not the fire situation.

Joint Information Center

A joint information center allowed for consistent information to the general public and evacuees regarding the incident and ability to return home.

Mountain Area Safety Taskforce

Eighteen months prior to the incident, MAST was created to deal with a catastrophic fire and evacuation. MAST helped establish better lines of communication and allowed entities to interact in a way not done before. MAST is cited as a direct contributor to the success of the Old Fire incident response.

Pre-Established Road Block Equipment

Caltrans had pre-positioned traffic barriers and road-closed signs at various locations and chained them to various posts and anchors in the ground to ensure they remained there. If a roadway was to be closed, the equipment and barriers were already in place, and they unchained the equipment and set up the roadblock.

Pre-Established Relationships Among Entities

Entities in the Big Bear Valley incident had trained and exercised together. As part of MAST, entities were introduced to other entities with which they normally may not have dealings. Having pre-established relations among entities prior to an incident helped during this incident.

Training Exercises – Inclusion of Hospital in Tabletop Exercises

Training exercises, including tabletop exercises, have been conducted in Big Bear Valley, and the local community hospital is a participant. Knowing what to do and who you can work with helped in the Big Bear incident.

Unified Incident Command

Unified incident command has been practiced in California for years and was born out of wildfires in the state. Unified incident command allows for a unified response to an incident and allowed multiple entities to act as one during the Big Bear Valley incident.

6.15.2 What Did Not Work

No Utilization of Existing ITS Technology

Caltrans had to rely upon staff for information, rather than viewing the information from its district traffic management center. The valley is not wired, and as a result, no ITS technology was utilized.

Stopped Communication

Communication stopped between Big Bear Valley and the incident command center when access to the unified incident command center was unavailable.

No Reentry Plan

Time was spent on evacuation planning out of Big Bear Valley, but the planning did not include a reentry plan. As a result, reentry into the valley was at times chaotic. This has since been corrected.

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