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

A unified command structure can operate alongside an incident command system. According to the Southern California Firestorm 2003: Report for the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, “Unified command proved far more effective when agency representatives had the authority to make decisions on behalf of their agency concerning resources and strategy (during the southern California wildfires). Incident command and staff said that law enforcement agencies, transportation departments, utilities, and others needed to be co-located in unified command. Respondents said they would like to see plans targeting incident command posts and planned trigger points to establish unified command and dispatch its staffing. For example, when a trigger point for evacuations is reached, the sheriff’s office, highway patrol, and department of transportation would move toward a planned incident command posts and deputies would move to traffic chokepoints. If evacuation is needed, deputies are already on site.” Use of Specialty Teams

Specialty teams have been deployed that can assist in an evacuation situation. According to Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: Cross-Cutting Study, during the Washington, DC, terrorist attack, “tiger teams were deployed to assist the Northern Virginia District.” Tiger teams are Virginia Department of Transportation crewmembers who are deployed to regions in the state that need additional assistance in preparing for and responding to severe weather events or any other emergencies involving the roads and highways.

February 7, 2006
Publication #FHWA–HOP-08-015