Good Practices in Transportation Evacuation Preparedness and Response
Results of the FHWA Workshop Series
Phase 2 - Response
In phase 2 of the tabletop exercise, Response, participants were provided information on the emergency event such as a hurricane hitting a specific geographic area, the location of significant wildfire activity in multiple locations, or severe weather causing power outages and significant damage. In each scenario, the emergency event caused the need for an emergency evacuation. In this phase participant discussion focused on activation of emergency procedures including evacuation and responding to the overall emergency.
Coordination for Emergency Response
- Multi-disciplined Evacuation Coordination Team - This team of Florida agencies convenes at the SEOC in Tallahassee to coordinate/listen to local officials. They convene 48 hours before landfall of a storm such as a hurricane and on an as-needed basis for other emergencies requiring an evacuation. In another example in Virginia, they formed the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response (VECTOR), a multi-agency evacuation and sheltering coordination team including VDEM, VDOT, VSP, Department of Social Services (DSS), National Guard, and the Tourism Commission. Their purpose is to coordinate their evacuation activities and resources.
Communications Systems Use and Coordination
- Use of 511 Systems to Provide Emergency Information - In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 511 as the single travel information telephone number to be made available to states and local jurisdictions across the country. The states of Florida, Virginia, and Oregon have 511 systems in their states and all use them to provide emergency information, including evacuation information, when necessary.
- Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) - In Michigan, LEIN can broadcast information statewide on overweight, oversize permitted truck movements. LEIN is operated by the Michigan State Police (MSP) with permit information provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). This information can be useful particularly during emergency response when oversize vehicles may be required to transport heavy equipment and relief supplies to an affected location.
- Transit Alert Network (TAN) - The TAN is a network used to share information among transit agencies in the Chicago metropolitan area. The network, which is tested monthly, can be used by any member of the network to send alerts. The TAN is tied to the Surface Transportation-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ST-ISAC) in Herndon, Virginia. Current TAN participants are the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace, Northern Indiana Transit District, AMTRAK, and the Class I railroads in the region.
- Statewide Agency Radio System (STARS) - The Virginia Office of Commonwealth Preparedness provides the STARS system to state agencies allowing for interoperability of radio communications among state agencies. VDOT also maintains its internal radio system as a back-up system.
- Joint Information Center (JIC) - Use of a JIC to share information among agencies and determine what information should be provided to the public in the event of an emergency. In California, the JIC includes OES, California Highway Patrol (CHP), and Caltrans.
- Media Monitoring - Caltrans monitors various television and radio reports to see if they are providing accurate information and if not, they quickly correct it. This action is particularly important in an emergency situation when conditions may change rapidly.
Emergency Operations Center Practices
- State Logistics Center - Operated by FDEM, it is a building centrally located in Orlando. The center stockpiles food, water, MREs, traffic signs, etc. for further distribution throughout the state for emergency response.
- Incident Site Emergency Operations Center (EOC) - FDEM often establishes a forward SEOC to establish command and control on the incident site. This field location coordinates with the SEOC in Tallahassee as required.
Emergency Traffic Management and Evacuation
- Traffic Management Authority (TMA) - In Chicago, it is the agency that directs traffic during rush hours and emergencies in the CBD. The TMA is operated by the OEMC. The TMA staff are located at critical intersections to move traffic and to maintain access for emergency vehicles. The TMA was established in 2004 in an effort to alleviate the Chicago Police Department's traffic control functions to allow the police to concentrate on crime reduction.
- Assembly and Transfer Centers (ATCs) - As part of the City of Chicago's evacuation plan, CTA and PACE (the suburban bus system) are the agencies responsible to provide outbound service to evacuate people via public transit. CTA moves the evacuees from the CBD out to suburban locations known as ATCs where PACE will then accept the evacuees and transport them to another designated location which might be a shelter location.
Personnel and Resource Management
- Incident Management Teams (IMTs) - Iowa has developed a team composed of retired emergency management personnel who can backfill permanent staff in an emergency to better manage personnel resources. Teams are operated under HSEMD.
- Provide Cash to Responders - A practice of the Houston Metro is to provide cash to rescue teams, security personnel, utilities personnel, and other response crews in case they must make purchases during recovery operations. These personnel may not have the means to make necessary purchases and in some cases, may not have access to cash due to power outages that affect the banking network. Alternatively, provide credit cards, or some other means to pay for equipment, supplies, food, water, and other potential equipment necessary to their response and recovery mission.
- Use of Tiger Teams - VDOT and VSP have identified personnel who can be deployed anywhere in the state to respond to an emergency as necessary. These are multi-disciplined teams who can provide necessary personnel and equipment resources in a variety of emergencies.
- Common Credentialing - Credentials provided by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) for all first responders including temporary cards. Common credentialing is useful to provide a common personnel identification card to staff from a variety of agencies allowing access to secure incident scenes. In another example, Florida has provided a "State Emergency Response Team (SERT)" identification card to responder personnel regardless of which agency, contractor, or private sector company they represent.