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

6.3 Communication

  1. Be Able to Communicate Among Entities – “South Carolina emergency personnel and law-enforcement agencies also now have better communications tools, with improved two-way radio equipment and coordination among agencies. ‘We’ll be able to talk to who we need to, when we need to,’ says [Captain] Stubblefield [of the South Carolina Highway Patrol].”
    Coastal Heritage, “Floyd Follies: What We’ve Learned”

  2. Communicate and Cooperate with Other Entities – “Local nuclear plant operators need to communicate and work with local officials. Coordinate with other entities regarding emergencies and the need for evacuation and/or sheltering. [Provide] annual communication on emergency information regarding a nuclear incident.”
    US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Publication: State and Local Response Actions

  3. Communicate to a Wide Audience – “During an evacuation event, it is important to communicate to many audiences, such as potential evacuees, nursing homes, hospitals, health centers, schools, transportation officials, emergency shelters, large employers, friends and relatives of evacuees, and the media. The communicated message should include who should evacuate, when they should do so, where evacuees should go, and what they should bring.”
    Synthesis of Transit Practice 27: Emergency Preparedness for Transit Terrorism

  4. Determine How the Public Perceives the Public Messages Regarding Evacuations. Have an Outreach Program for Specific Target Populations. Engage the Public in Emergency Preparedness Programs – “I have learned [Gary Vickers—Director, Pinellas County Emergency Management] many valuable lessons from these recent storms [hurricane season 2004] and feel there are many things we can do to improve the preparedness of our county. Among these are conducting a behavioral analysis to determine how the public perceived our messages and what they did in response to them. We plan to target specific segments of our population, such as our mobile home communities, for outreach programs. Most important, we want to engage our residents as an integral component of our emergency preparedness programs. Without public participation, we have no hope of success.”
    St. Petersburg Times Online, “Letters to the Editor: Evacuation Unpleasant But Necessary”

  5. Develop Public Information Plans – “Identify specific actions for communicating emergency information to evacuees en route including:
    1. Host shelter locations, shelter openings and closings, and directions to the shelters from major evacuation routes
    2. Ensuring hotel/motel capacity and status information is incorporated into emergency public information procedures
    3. Pre-developed messages for release to the media
    4. The placement of variable message signs and procedures for updating their messages
    5. The placement of portable radio transmitters and procedures for updating their messages
    6. Providing maps, fliers or other shelter information to local and state law enforcement/traffic control personnel, rest areas, and other key locations along major evacuation routes (restaurants, gas stations) both prior to and during the event
    7. The location and operation of host shelter information centers/staging areas; and
    8. Integrating county public information operations and messages with Florida Highway Patrol Troops and Department of Transportation District Public Information Officers.”

    State of Florida Regional Evacuation Procedure

  6. Have a Lead Individual Provide Information – “During most evacuation events, the emergency services press officer (e.g., police press officer) would coordinate dissemination of information to the media during the emergency phase of an evacuation. In larger evacuation events, the appropriate government press officer would take the lead with the media, in close liaison with emergency services press officers.

    “All organizations, including transit agencies, responding to the emergency event should coordinate their media response to ensure that a coherent picture emerges. Individual organizations may deal directly with media regarding their own functional responsibilities, as long as the overall media coordinator is aware and there is agreement on the message and information to be released. Individuals in organizations, who are approached by the media for information or an interview, should always refer the inquiry to their organizational press officer or the overall press coordinator.”
    Synthesis of Transit Practice 27: Emergency Preparedness for Transit Terrorism

  7. Make the Community Aware of Flood Incidents – “There is a realization, however, that the best warnings will fall on deaf ears unless the community is aware of the flood threat in the local area and has given some thought to the problem of managing floods. The State Emergency Service is extensively involved in community education and the production of flood safe guides is happening in conjunction with flood plan reviews. The State Emergency Service continues to make progress on flood warning services, an extremely important component of flood management activities.”
    Flood Warnings: Recent Lessons Learned and Developments Under Way

  8. Notify the Public in Advance of Potential Problems – “In this case, the possibility of flooding. Have maps available of areas prone to flooding. Use the internet to distribute information. However, it needs to be kept up to date. Provide one-page document for citizens to take with them providing information.”
    Ribble Valley Borough Council, England (Internet) publication, Flood Warning

  9. Provide Accurate, Timely Information – “The demand for accurate, timely information increases dramatically after an emergency. Often this increased demand comes at a time when the technology needed to provide that information is most compromised.

    Agency officials need accurate information to be able to best allocate resources and set agency priorities in responding to an emergency. There is also a heightened interest by the public at large for information about the event. In the New York, Washington, and Los Angeles events, immediate communication with agency field staff and emergency responders was difficult because telephone landlines were damaged and cellular communications systems were overloaded or did not provide adequate coverage.”
    Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: Cross-Cutting Study

  10. Provide Pre-Evacuation Notices to Home Owners in Fire-Prone Areas – These were provided for residents with homes near the Biscuit wildfire in Oregon during 2002, thus notifying them of the dangers associated with living in wildlands.
    Seattle Post Intelligence, “Evacuation Notice Lifted for Some Tiny Oregon Towns”

  11. Provide Evacuation Information on the Internet – The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District of California posts information on its Web site on preparation for an evacuation and other evacuation information. It states “Evacuation routes should be based on the direction the wildfire is moving. Identify a minimum of two (2) main exit routes from your neighborhood. Map out alternative routes in the event main routes are blocked. Know the location of designated Public-Safe Zones (areas of refuge) during wildfire or other disaster situations. Plan how you will transport your pets. Make arrangements far in advance for the transportation and lodging of large animals, like horses and livestock. If you are unable to drive a car, develop a network of neighbors, friends and/or caregivers who can help you prepare for and assist you during a disaster.”
    Getting Out Alive: Preparing for and Protecting Yourself During a Wildfire Evacuation

  12. Technology and Software Could Be Used to Provide Information to the Public
    ICDN Newsletter, “Interactive Web Site to Aid Travelers During Marquette Interchange Project”

  13. Use New Communication Technologies – “On September 11, new technologies proved successful in supplementing communications during the emergency response efforts when landline telephones were either damaged or overwhelmed with demand. Data transmissions using fax machines, e-mails, and interactive pagers that use ‘push’ technology were effective in supplementing communications. On September 11, several transportation agencies activated their ‘mobile communications centers,’ which are buses equipped with satellite and computer technology to allow multiple forms of communications.”
    Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: Cross-Cutting Study

  14. Use Multiple Ways to Communicate with the Public – “During the weeks after the attack, New York City Transit used its Web site to help keep customers informed. It posted updated maps and service changes. It used its geographic information systems mapping capabilities to produce and distribute changes both electronically and by handing out paper ‘take-one’ maps of service changes several times a day.”
    Emergency Transportation Operations: Stakeholders, Functions and Automated Tool

    “Media are an important ally in getting information across to the public in an evacuation. The specific information strategy will depend on circumstances. Means of communicating with the general public during an evacuation include television, radio, and newspapers; leaflet distribution; Web sites; and teletext.”
    Synthesis of Transit Practice 27: Emergency Preparedness for Transit Terrorism

  15. Use Real-Time Information with Law Enforcement, Fire and Rescue Agencies
    Emergency Transportation Operations: Freeway Traffic Management Center Capabilities and Needs

  16. Variable Message Boards Need to be Used When Necessary or People Will Ignore Them – “People were complaining to the author regarding the variable message sign example ‘The Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) signs warning ‘WET ROADWAY, REDUCE SPEED’ increased our already horrible commute Tuesday on Highway 101 in Morgan Hill and on Highway 85 near Almaden Expressway. We know the roads were wet! It was raining! We don’t need a sign to tell us! Why are these signs not restricted for emergencies? Why are they backing up an already horrible commute with obvious information? This sign and others aren’t going away. Caltrans has plans to add about 100 more in the region, and over time we can hope that drivers keep their foot on the gas and keep driving.”
    San Jose Mercury Times, “Electronic Road Signs Staying, Caltrans Says”

6.3.1 Maps

  1. Distribute Evacuation Maps – “When each hurricane season begins on June 1, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division disseminates 500,000 evacuation maps, offering route guidance for each coastal region. In a voluntary evacuation, travelers can take any road they wish. But once the governor announces a mandatory evacuation, law enforcement will likely guide many travelers to predetermined routes.”
    Coastal Heritage, “Floyd Follies: What We’ve Learned”

  2. Provide Maps to the Public on Evacuation Routes – “Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina used federal grants from the Federal Highway Administration to develop and implement a public information program/brochures/maps concerning lane reversal plans during a hurricane evacuation.”
    A Study of the Impact of Nine Transportation Management Projects on Hurricane Evacuation Preparedness

  3. Provide Evacuation Maps on a Single Sheet – “Citizens of Georgia mentioned they appreciated the fact that all the pertinent hurricane evacuation information was on a single sheet.”
    A Study of the Impact of Nine Transportation Management Projects on Hurricane Evacuation Preparedness

  4. Suggest Placement of Evacuation Maps in the Car – Five evacuation routes were identified, and it was suggested that the evacuation routes be placed in the car for use.
    Evacuation Routes by Ward for the Borough of Monaca in the Event of an Incident at the Beaver Valley Power Station (Nuclear Facility)


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