Role of Transportation Management Centers in Emergency Operations Guidebook
|Traditional Responders||Special/Extreme Circumstance Responders||Incident Information Providers||Transportation System Providers and Users|
|Public Safety Communications||Hazardous Materials Contractors||Traveler Information Services||Traveling Public|
|Law Enforcement||Coroners and Medical Examiners||Traffic Media||Trucking Industry|
|Fire and Rescue||Emergency Management Agencies||Transportation Agencies||Insurance Industry|
|Emergency Medical Services (EMS)||Environmental/Natural Resources/Departments of Public Health||Public Transportation Providers|
|Towing and Recovery||Motorist Organizations|
Three tractor-trailers have crashed releasing Thioglycol, a Class 6 HAZMAT material, and trapping one of the drivers inside the cab. While emergency responders worked to extricate the driver, a HAZMAT team contained the chemical. Behind the scenes, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) published 511 messages (voice and web site), and through its regional TMCs established detours, and posted information on message boards until the highway was open in both directions and returned to normal traffic patterns.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) played a primary role in communicating information to residents and tourists before, during, and after Hurricane Irene. NCDOT’s TMC provided real-time travel information on their 511 system, web site, changeable message signs, through Twitter, and on mobile devices. The TMC also managed traffic and monitored for incidents.
This section describes the expertise and resources on traffic flow that TMCs bring to an event planning team. While planned special events are not the focus of this guidebook, they are discussed here for two important reasons:
Depending on the type of event, the venue, or even the location, the event planning team could include the following:
The FHWA Freeway Management and Operations Handbook, Chapter 11, provides a detailed summary of TMC planning and management roles related to special events, which will vary depending on event characteristics. Some of the topics discussed include a detailed description of all phases of managing travel from preplanning to postevent, a framework for stakeholder coordination, and innovative techniques for enhancing efficiency. Another valuable source of information is the FHWA document National Special Security Events: Transportation Planning for Planned Special Events, FHWA-HOP-11-012, which provides a transportation guide to National Special Security Events (NSSEs).
Some of the planning and resources from the TMC, law enforcement, and emergency response can improve operational efficiency around planned special events.
For instance, when the Dallas Cowboys Stadium opened in 2009, there were 200 officers in the field supporting traffic and event management; today that number is closer to 90, which shows a significant resource and cost savings as a result of technology, operational strategies, and coordination with the TMC.
This section describes the essential information common to all emergencies identified during the planning process, including coordination with state and regional Fusion Centers.
In many regions, the DOT’s ITS is an important source of real-time information about the transportation system, which is often communicated by the TMC to law enforcement.
TMCs should explore avenues to enhance connectivity and interoperability between TMCs, EOCs, and Fusion Centers. The range of connectivity and data exchange between the TMC and EOC includes shared local area data and video networks; shared private area networks using Ethernet technology and video encoding; and commercial data access from publicly available providers such as the Internet and telephone service providers. In addition, the TMC should incorporate ITS into their emergency operations procedures to provide situational awareness to the EOC and Fusion Center including traffic volumes and queuing. ITS information may also help inform evacuation decisions and routing.
This section of the EOP describes the response communication protocols and coordination procedures for use during emergencies and disasters. The TMCs’ 24/7 operational profile and advanced incident detection and information gathering capabilities place them at the forefront of highway incident response. TMCs can only be effective in this role if there are appropriate communications and notification policies and procedures. The box shows a communications policy developed by Florida DOT for use in hurricanes and other emergencies.
If a common interagency communications center is not available, the plan must then cover how to achieve interagency communications, including notifications between TMCs, EOCs, Fusion Centers, and emergency response agencies. These protocols should apply for regional communications plans and communication between the TMC and other transportation agencies. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling of July 2011 on Public Safety Broadband, discussed further in the next section, has direct implications for TMC/EOC cooperation.
Source: Florida DOT Hurricane Response Action Plan, Version 2, June 2005.
State DOT, because of their interest in ITS technology, can work with and support public safety agency partners on advanced technology applications. The FCC’s allocation of frequency to public safety functions reinforces this cooperation. An integrated approach to a broader range of hazards requires cooperation among the emergency management community and public safety and transportation entities, more shared real-time information, rapid access across public data sources and data types, and access to special expertise on an on-call basis. TMCs should also establish a Communications Working Group and include stakeholders involved in communications and notification systems and procedures within and outside the TMC. The communications group would cooperate with the TMC on the development of plans and procedures and include individuals from the following:
Regular discussion and coordination with internal and external stakeholders can enhance communications and notification and identify problem areas such as radio interoperability. Typical telecommunications resources include the common mutual-aid frequencies/channels, alternative communications devices, wireless information networks, and an associated standardized communications terminology/protocol to enhance en-route and on-scene communications among responders from different agencies. Mobile unified communications vehicles can also enhance en-route/on-scene communications among different responders.
TMCs should utilize the Communications Working Group to maximize the utility and interoperability of the many different communications services and systems that interface with the TMC and leverage those systems to expand the communications reach of the TMC. All of the systems can support emergency operations as long as there are plans and procedures such as standardized terminology and system protocols, and external stakeholders are able to tap into them. Examples of communications commonly used by TMCs include the following:
This section of the EOP addresses the general support requirements and the availability of services for all types of emergencies, including mutual-aid agreements; authorities for and policies on reassigning public employees and soliciting and managing volunteers; and general policies for maintaining financial records, reporting and tracking resource needs. Of particular importance are potential sources of funding for the TMC’s Emergency Preparedness and Security Program.
TMCs should utilize the Emergency Preparedness Working Group members to research and leverage transportation emergency preparedness and security funding. This funding comes from multiple sources, depending on the specifics of the project and the current funding environment. Primary sources include general state and Federal funds and specific grant funds. Transportation projects can sometimes take advantage of emergency preparedness or infrastructure security-oriented funding. The following are current grant programs to support emergency preparedness:
This section describes the planning process, participants, and how EOP revisions are coordinated during the preparedness phase. It also includes guidance on how to provide a regular cycle of testing, reviewing, and updating the EOP. Recommended processes for post-incident review and EOP adjustment are also included.
This section presents a planning process that is flexible and allows TMCs to adapt it to varying characteristics and situations. If time is a constraint, steps can be minimized or skipped in order to accelerate the process. Small TMCs can follow just the steps that are appropriate to their size, known risks, and available planning resources. At each step in the planning process, TMCs should consider the impact of the decisions made on training, exercises, equipment, and other requirements.
Experience and lessons learned have demonstrated that operational planning is best performed by a team. A team approach enables organizations to define the role they will play during an operation. The common threads found in successful operations are that participating organizations understand and accept their roles and that members of the planning team understand and accept the roles of other departments and agencies. A key goal of any TMC planning team is to build and expand relationships that help bring creativity and innovation to emergency planning. A TMC benefits from the active participation of all stakeholders. Tips for gathering the team together are listed below:
In most TMCs, the TMC manager is the senior official’s policy advisor for response and mitigation strategies, as well as overall preparedness. TMC managers are often responsible for coordinating and developing an EOP, filling the role of lead planner. This means that the TMC manager provides oversight to a TMC’s planning team.
Effective risk management requires a consistent comparison of the hazards a particular TMC faces. TMCs should collect information about threats and hazards and assign values to risk for the purposes of determining priorities, developing or comparing courses of action, and informing decision-making. The TMC could conduct an in-depth process – cataloging everything from specific asset vulnerabilities to emergency personnel staffing levels. Due to resource limitations, however, this level of analysis may not be possible or practical In such cases, TMCs should conduct a risk assessment of achievable and appropriate scale and scope.
Identify Threats and Hazards. As the first step, TMCs should gather information about the potential risks, resource base and geographic characteristics that could affect emergency operations. In addition, TMCs’ hazard mitigation plans are an excellent resource for this step, as they are required to identify, catalog, and analyze all natural hazards that have the ability to impact the TMC and its operations. TMCs should take additional steps to include human-caused and technological hazards. Planning teams should use state and local fusion centers to provide analytical products, such as risk and trend analyses, that are derived from the systematic collection and evaluation of threat information. Fusion centers also provide access to national-level intelligence and can serve as a mechanism to “deconflict” information.
Assess Risk. The risk assessment is the basis for EOP development and helps a planning team decide what hazards or threats merit special attention, what actions to plan for, and what resources are likely to be needed. In this step, planners inventory, evaluate, and provide loss estimates for assets deemed critical during the response and recovery phases of an incident. Planners can also obtain the Hazards U.S. Multi-Hazard (HAZUS-MH) model from FEMA. HAZUS-MH is a nationally applicable and standardized methodology that estimates potential losses from earthquakes, floods, and hurricane winds.
Determine Operational Priorities. TMCs set operational priorities by using information from the risk profile. The planning team engages the senior official to establish how the hazard or threat would evolve survivors, and the community. Starting with a given intensity for the hazard or threat, the team imagines an incident’s development using the following sequence:
Planners may use the incidents that have the greatest impact on the TMC (worst-case), those that are most likely to occur, or an incident constructed from the impacts of a variety of risks. During this process of building an incident scenario, the planning team identifies the requirements that determine actions and resources. Planners identify requirements generated by the hazard or threat, the response, and by constraints/restraints.
Planners develop requirements based on the nature of the hazard or threat. Response requirements are developed based on actions taken in response to an agent-generated problem. These tend to be common to all operations.
A constraint is something that must be done (“must do”), while a restraint is something that prohibits action (“must not do”). These may be defined in law, regulation, or management directive; by physical characteristics (e.g., terrain and road networks that make east-west evacuations impossible); or by resource limitations.
Set Goals and Objectives. Planners should carefully craft goals and objectives to ensure they support the plan mission and operational priorities. They must also clearly indicate the desired result or end state. Goals and objectives facilitate unity of effort and consistency of purpose among the multiple groups and activities involved in plan execution.
Planners correctly identify an operational task when they can answer the following questions about it:
Develop and Analyze Courses of Action. This step is a process of generating, comparing, and selecting methods of achieving the goals and objectives identified in Step 3. When developing courses of action, planners depict how an operation unfolds by building a portrait of the incident’s actions, decision points, and participant activities. Planners identify tasks that occur immediately at incident initiation, tasks that are carried out through the duration of the incident, and tasks that affect long-term operations. Specific activities include:
Identify Resources. Once courses of action are selected, the planning team identifies resources needed to accomplish tasks without regard to resource availability. The object is to identify the resources needed to make the operation work. Once the planning team identifies all the requirements, they begin matching available resources to requirements. The resource base should also include a list of facilities vital to emergency operations, and the list should indicate how individual hazards might affect the facilities. Whenever possible, planners should match resources with other geographical/regional needs so that multiple demands for the same or similar resources can be identified and conflicts resolved. This step provides planners an opportunity to identify resource shortfalls and prepare pre-scripted resource requests, as appropriate. The EOP should account for unresolved resource shortfalls so they are not just “assumed away.” The capability estimate process, a planner’s assessment of a TMC’s ability to take a course of action, is critical to this effort. Planners should use capability estimates for both future and current operational planning.
Write the Plan. This step turns the results of course of action development into an EOP. The planning team develops a rough draft of the basic plan, functional annexes, hazard-specific annexes, or other parts of the plan as appropriate. The TMC and partners on the planning team record results from Step 4 and provide an outline for the rough draft. As the planning team works through successive drafts, the members add necessary tables, charts, and other graphics. The planning team prepares and circulates a final draft to obtain the comments of organizations that have responsibilities for implementing the plan. Following these simple rules for writing plans and procedures will help ensure that readers and users understand their content:
Review the Plan. Planners should check the written plan for its conformity to applicable regulatory requirements and the standards of Federal or state agencies, as appropriate, and for its usefulness in practice. Planners should consult the next level of government about its plan review cycle. Commonly used criteria help decision-makers determine the effectiveness and efficiency of plans. These measures include adequacy, feasibility, acceptability, completeness and compliance. Decision-makers directly involved in planning can employ these criteria, along with their understanding of plan requirements, to determine a plan’s effectiveness and efficiency and to assess risks and define costs.
When using these five criteria, planners should ask the following questions:
Did an action, a process, a decision, or the operational timing identified in the plan make the situation worse or better?
Approve and Disseminate the Plan. Once the plan has been validated, the planner should present the plan to the appropriate DOT officials and obtain official promulgation of the plan. The promulgation process should be based in a specific statute, law, or ordinance. A formal promulgation documentation process is implemented to obtain senior official’s approval and to gain the widest acceptance possible for the plan. The authority required for changes and modifications to the plan must be established. Once the senior official grants approval, the plan must be distributed and a record of the people and organizations that received a copy (or copies) of the plan must be maintained. “Sunshine” laws may require that a copy of the plan be posted on the TMC’s web site or be placed in some other public accessible location.
Training. After developing a plan, it must be disseminated and managers must train their personnel so they have the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the tasks identified in the plan. Personnel should also be trained on the organization-specific procedures necessary to support those plan tasks.
Exercise the Plan. The planning team must conduct training events, exercises, and real-world incidents to determine whether the goals, objectives, decisions, actions, and timing outlined in the plan leads to a successful response. In this way, homeland security and other emergency preparedness exercise programs become an integral part of the planning process. Similarly, planners need to be aware of lessons and practices from other communities. A remedial action process will help a planning team identify, illuminate, and correct problems with the TMC’s EOP. This process captures information from exercises, post-disaster critiques, self-assessments, audits, administrative reviews, or lessons-learned processes that may indicate that deficiencies exist. Members of the planning team should reconvene to discuss the problem and to consider and assign responsibility for generating remedies across all mission areas. Remedial actions may involve revising planning assumptions and operational concepts, changing organizational tasks, or modifying organizational implementing instructions (i.e., the SOPs/SOGs). Remedial actions may also involve providing refresher training for an organization’s personnel.
Review, Revise, and Maintain the Plan. This step closes the loop in the planning process as it focuses on adding the information gained by exercising the plan to the research collected in Step 2 and starting the planning cycle over again. Planning teams should establish a process for reviewing and revising the plan on a regular basis. Some TMCs have found it useful to review and revise portions of their EOPs every month. Many accomplish their reviews on an annual basis. In no case should any part of the plan go for more than two years without being reviewed and revised. Teams should also review and update the plan after the following events:
This section provides the legal basis for emergency operations and activities. The authorities and references should include the following:
The emergency operations activities of the TMC generally fall within the legislative mandate that established the agency and defined its responsibilities. Recent legislative initiatives related to emergency operations and roadway safety include Quick Clearance laws, and Move Over Slow Down laws for emergency vehicles. Implementation of NIMS has helped define the roles of transportation and emergency response agencies during emergencies.
Memoranda of Understanding or Agreements (MOU/A) or Emergency Management Assistance Compacts (EMAC) are two methods to ensure formal procedures are in place for mutual assistance and support. These agreements form the basis of training and planning activities, and are generally most effective when covering specific topics. NIMS and the NRF provide a basis for these agreements, and the duties in the State EOP. While implementation of agreements may occur at a higher level in the transportation agency, the TMC should have a seat at the table in both the development and the execution of MOU/As and EMACs. TMC personnel can provide inventories of equipment, current operating procedures, and provide recommendations on items to include in the plan. The text box provides language for an agreement. Successful implementation of an agreement requires research upfront by all parties during the preparation phase and most importantly, efforts to build relationships between agency personnel.
An example of a noteworthy practice is the consolidation of transportation and emergency response functions into Houston’s TranStar Transportation Center through an interlocal agreement that focuses heavily on funding, project development, and operating responsibilities. Four entities, including the Texas DOT, Houston Metro (transit operator), Harris County, and the City of Houston agreed to participate in the development and operation of the Center. TranStar operates freeway and traffic signal management and emergency management activities for both Harris County and the City of Houston. The operating agreement of the Center determines the procedures affecting transportation and emergency response personnel.
Agreement language should include the following information:
Source: NCHRP Report 525 Volume 16, A Guide to Emergency Response Planning at State Transportation Agencies, pp. 48-49.
An example of a broader agreement is the Joint Operations Policy Statement between the Washington State DOT, State Patrol, and Association of Fire Chiefs for Disaster Response. This goes beyond an incident management agreement to address working relationships for disaster response, work zone safety, winter operations, smart highways, commercial vehicle operations, facilities management (rest areas), wireless communications, system security, and ferry operations. For each area, the policy statement includes a brief background statement, a simply stated objective, and policy guidance (which may reference other documents) along with roles and responsibilities, ongoing actions, measures of performance, and a timeline for implementation.
Background: The Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) establishes the policy under which all state agencies will respond to emergencies and disasters.
Objective: Improve coordination of joint Washington State Police (WSP), Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) emergency operations.
Policy: The WSP and WSDOT agree to enhance existing procedures to provide additional protection measures for the traveling public and the transportation system.
Roles and Responsibilities:
WSDOT Responsibilities: Headquarters (HQ) Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be equipped for WSP Data communication capabilities. WSDOT Lead: Emergency Operations and Safety Program Manager.
WSP Responsibilities: Staff the WSDOT’s HQ and Regional EOCs as appropriate during emergencies. WSP Lead: Incident Management Team Coordinator.
Washington Fire Chiefs (WFC): Work collaboratively with WSP and WSDOT partners to identify joint interests and best practices for disaster response. WFC Lead: Deputy Chief, Bellevue Fire Department.
Action: To increase effectiveness, WSDOT’s HQ EOC Team will meet at least annually to discuss opportunities for improvement in disaster response. The Team will also work to establish cooperative partnerships with other emergency response agencies. Each WSP District Commander (DC) and WSDOT Region Administrator (RA) will work to exchange knowledge of all applicable WSP and WSDOT disaster response plans. WFC will continue to promote training and coordination to support disaster response preparedness and response.
Measures of Performance/Reporting: Disaster response drills should be conducted on an annual basis and should include WSP, WSDOT, and all local stakeholders. At each annual JOPS meeting, each DC/RA will report on new or revised plans for their area.
Time Line: This policy will be in place when JOPS receives final approval by both agencies.
Source: JOPS, A Joint Operations Policy Statement, prepared and agreed by the Washington Department of Transportation, the Washington State Patrol, and the Washington Fire Chiefs, 2010, p. 15.
Interagency agreements for incident clearance may address duties and responsibilities of response agencies, jurisdictional authority, and resource sharing among agencies. MOUs or cooperative agreements between emergency operations agencies and transportation agencies can focus exclusively or primarily on the handling of incidents, which is an effective way to reduce tension around the tradeoffs between public safety and mobility. Incident commanders at the scene have safety as a first priority and are generally cautious in allowing traffic to move through or around an incident. Transportation agencies meanwhile are concerned about traffic impacts and both parties are concerned about the potential for secondary crashes when there are stops in the traffic flow. A sample memorandum between the Tennessee DOT and the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) defines the responsibilities and policies for each agency, and those which are joint activities. Two of the paragraphs in the text box illustrate how such an agreement can define specific responsibilities during and after an incident through ongoing working relationships.
TDOT, DOS, local responders, and other agencies as needed, will conduct an after-action review within 10 working days, unless unusual circumstances require more than 10 days, following any incident that requires complete closure of an Interstate highway (in one or both directions of travel) for more than two hours and following any incident that requires closure of one or more lanes for more than five hours.
The purpose of the meeting will not be to find fault or to assign blame but to identify opportunities for improvements in agency procedures, training, or allocation of resources. The after-action review will not substitute for critical incident stress debriefings (CISD) and will not address issues that are more appropriate for CISD.
A one-page report will be prepared jointly by the representatives of DOS and TDOT and forwarded through the chain-of-command to the Commissioners of DOS and TDOT within one month of the date of the incident, unless unusual circumstances require more than one month. Regardless of the duration, extent, or location of closure, either agency may request an after-action meeting following any highway incident, and that meeting will be held and a report prepared as described above.
DOS and TDOT will meet periodically to discuss experiences with incident management and to work toward improvements. In addition to the after-action reviews described above, periodic working sessions will be held in each of TDOT Region Offices with DOS, TDOT, and other state and local agencies to discuss overall incident management and related issues.
Interagency agreements can be important in defining the parameters of TMC participation in nontransportation events. This issue comes up frequently in relation to the role of law enforcement during homeland security activities. Law enforcement/security agencies, for example, may request CCTV access to track suspects. TMCs are hard-pressed to turn down these requests even though it may contradict TMC policies or agreements and most TMCs do not record CCTV feeds except for incidents. As TMCs work with law enforcement on incident management, event management, or evacuations; relationships can develop along with guidelines for this activity. While there will be limitations in what law enforcement agencies can divulge about their activities, the discussions should be adequate to develop broad guidelines and policies. To develop such guidelines, TMCs should implement the following steps:
In preparing to develop these guidelines there are several key documents TMC personnel should review to gain a better understanding of security concerns that may trigger use of TMC resources by law enforcement or homeland security agencies. Full documentation of the DHS is available in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) and the National Preparedness Guidelines (Figure 3.2). The NIPP integrates existing and future critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) protection efforts and strategies into a single national program. The NIPP framework provides recommendations on how to mitigate risk by lessening vulnerabilities, deterring threats, and minimizing the consequences of terrorist attacks and other manmade and natural disasters.
DOT transport equipment in emergencies, and support activities such as utility restoration, which may be reimbursable from emergency funding sources. MOUs or interagency agreements can be helpful in defining these responsibilities and in setting up payment systems. TMCs can also have an important role in documenting conditions that enable states to collect emergency repair funds after infrastructure losses. Full documentation of guidelines for collecting these funds is included in the document Recovering from Disasters: The National Transportation Recovery Strategy. One of the suggestions in the strategy, for instance, recommends communities bring together individuals responsible for overseeing the recovery of various infrastructure networks to plan for the overall process.
This section details additional planning and coordination functions that may be included in the EOP, including the planning and development of preplanned detours, and emergency evacuation plans.
Some states identify preplanned detour routes for their entire Interstate Highway System, a process in which DOT staff often coordinates with evacuation planning. This makes it easier to implement the detours in the event of an incident or other emergency. Several state and local DOT also have standard detour routes for use during construction or incident-related rerouting. Utilizing their familiarity with local road and highway evacuation/detour routes, the TMC should develop preplanned detours for the major arterials in their area so they can support emergency response by providing information on routes.
Regions which have developed emergency evacuation plans for their central business districts, provide information on specific roles for each agency, including which police or DOT unit is responsible for securing each highway access point. Interagency collaboration is important to developing the plans, which also include involvement from transit agencies and MPOs.
Utilizing their own familiarity with existing emergency evacuation planning, the TMC should develop emergency evacuation routes for the major arterials in their area. TMCs have often played a central role in the development of emergency evacuation plans and procedures for urban areas. TMCs should also be involved in these efforts since the plans often delegate responsibility for specific traffic control points to varying agencies based on geographic jurisdiction (or other factors). TMCs can thus serve as a resource during implementation.
Some noteworthy developments in transportation planning have improved the link between planning and operations in disaster response. The increase in the programming and funding of ITS technologies with disaster response as location criteria, the leveraging of transit/multimodal resources during a disaster, and the movement from “table-top” exercises to field exercises have helped. Full documentation is available in the Peer Exchange Series on State and Metropolitan Transportation Planning Issues.
An important activity for transportation agencies is identification of improvements to alleviate the impact of future disasters. Both New Orleans and the Houston-Galveston area demonstrated best practices by refining their evacuation plans and routes and assessing what physical and operational infrastructure is required to improve safety and mobility in future emergencies. Figure 3.3, which shows evacuation zones developed by the Houston-Galveston Area Council using their transportation model, can serve as a guide to the TMC and other emergency agencies in the future.
The TMC can use the following checklist to evaluate their progress and completion status in the development of the EOP. The TMC should incorporate the following elements into the EOP (check all that apply and are included):
❑ Includes purpose and scope.
❑ Includes situation overview and planning assumptions, i.e., geographic areas likely to be affected, vulnerable critical facilities, population distribution, and location of individuals with access functional needs, etc.
❑ Includes a concept of operations, including whether the TMC and EOC will colocate or whether the TMC will use a virtual EOC concept, the organization and assignment of responsibilities, and the framework for all direction, command and control, and coordination activities.
❑ Documents interagency coordination procedures among enforcement, emergency management agencies, transit, tow truck operators, and venue operators for Planned Special Events.
❑ Documents information collection and dissemination procedures, including the use of ITS and traveler information, and exchange of data between the TMC and EOC.
❑ Documents communication protocols and coordination procedures.
❑ Identifies the communications stakeholders who will be involved and the membership and responsibilities of a Communications Working Group. Includes information on administration, finance, and logistics, including the identification of potential funding sources, how the plan will be developed and maintained, and the legal basis for emergency operations and activities.
❑ Documents incident clearance agreements addressing the duties and responsibilities of response agencies, jurisdictional authority, and resource sharing.
❑ Documents how the TMC will recover costs through participation in cost-recovery agreements.
❑ Includes information on additional planning and coordination activities, including the planning and development of preplanned detours, and emergency evacuation plans.
❑ Includes a capabilities survey.
❑ Identifies of essential functions, including the following (check all that apply):
❑ Areas of responsibility.
❑ Organizational functions.
❑ Criteria for selecting essential functions.
❑ Essential functions and supporting processes and systems.
❑ Key management, technical, and supporting personnel.
❑ The development, review, and approval of the plan.
❑ Documents the development of supporting procedures.
❑ Documents personnel training plan and the process for testing/update of the plan.
❑ Documents the implementation of drills and exercises, including the description of the following activities (check all that apply):
❑ Tabletop Exercise (TTX).
❑ Operations-Based Exercises (drill, functional exercise, full-scale exercises).
Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning is a way transportation agencies define required activities when an emergency results in no access to essential operating and maintenance facilities, vehicle fleets, systems, and senior management and technical personnel. Under certain disruptive conditions, the transportation agency cannot perform its normal business activities. COOP planning should involve all-hazards, including natural, human-caused, and technological incidents. It is a multistep process, which must be periodically tested and maintained.
While many TMCs have plans, policies, procedures, checklists, and job aids to direct immediate response to various emergencies, there is often a need for dedicated continuity and recovery planning. Without a management framework that clearly identifies essential functions and establishes operational procedures to sustain them when there is a disruption of normal operations, TMCs remain vulnerable to service interruptions and loss of public confidence.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) joined other state departments, volunteer agencies, and the Minnesota National Guard to start operation of the State Emergency Operations Center in St. Paul within hours of the I-35 bridge collapsing over the Mississippi River. The TMC disseminated messages via 511, message boards, twitter, and the web site to the traveling public. The TMC also coordinated with other agencies, including across state lines, to broadcast alternate route and incident information.
A good guide for developing COOP is the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) TCRP86/NCHRP 525 Report on Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning Guidelines for Transportation Agencies. Information in the plan includes a description of COOP, its purpose, and guidelines for use.
Typically, the COOP development process follows seven steps, including:
The TMC Emergency Preparedness Working Group should serve as the coordination and starting point for the COOP process because it will be easier to secure important buy-in and support from top management and ensure the organization is fully committed to the COOP process. From the Working Group, designate a COOP planning leader to lead the planning team with sufficient personnel and resources to accomplish the effort. Coordination with external agencies, training, and exercise participation may also be necessary. There should be regular dedicated meetings to keep the effort on track and subcommittees for specific COOP planning areas.
It is important to assess and understand current capabilities, including current vulnerabilities and incident response practices. A Capabilities Survey may include analyzing capabilities, inventorying resources, examining personnel assignments, determining vulnerabilities, reviewing internal plans and policies, and evaluating lines of coordination.
As a first step, it is essential to establish the existing and anticipated threats to the TMC to construct the foundation of the COOP Plan. This is possible by determining the types of events that are likely to require activation of a COOP Plan, shown in Figure 3.4.
Next, the TMC should identify and prioritize the essential functions to maintain during emergencies. A common approach uses the following steps:
The TMC should undertake the development, review, and approval of the COOP Plan utilizing the following process:
The TMC’s COOP Plan should include and describe the following elements:
Supporting procedures will ensure effective implementation of the COOP Plan. Just as an EOP or EMP serves as the foundation for emergency response procedures, the COOP Plan should be the foundation for continuity of operations and recovery procedures. COOP procedures should focus on the following areas:
Effective implementation also depends on training personnel on its use, which requires the development of a regular and documented training program so new and existing employees receive consistent and recurring COOP training.
Regular testing of the COOP Plan is required periodically through drills and exercises that examine its functionality and implementation. COOP Plan updates, coordinated by the Emergency Preparedness Working Group, should address any deficiencies.
Training ensures personnel are familiar with and understand plans, policies, and procedures. It allows the effective transmission of the elements of an emergency preparedness program into and throughout the TMC organization. Training also ensures TMC personnel understand and effectively execute plan policies and the SOPs.
For a TMC, which utilizes complex systems and interacts extensively with external agencies, training that includes participation from an array of stakeholders is particularly important. The TMC can initiate the training or a partner agency can initiate it externally. Training in joint environments will ensure consistency and strengthen interagency relationships, both of which are crucial when an incident occurs and a response is required.
The TMC Emergency Preparedness Working Group should oversee the development of a training plan that addresses curriculum and audience to serve as a foundation for all TMC training activities.
The training plan should also identify specific training opportunities. The following is a partial list of recommended training topics. Individual TMCs may have particular needs based on their specific structure, assets, or external partners. Four categories of training available are described below:
The National Highway Institute (NHI) offers training, both on-line and in classroom, that covers the topics below.
TMCs should develop this training for their own use since it is not readily available. Specific topics covered in the program should include the following:
This EOP Training can be conducted jointly with external responding agencies by utilizing the Capabilities Gap Analysis format, which delineates response capabilities and responsibilities between the TMC and external responding agencies. Additional information is available in the EOP section.
TMCs should develop this type of training for their own use since it is not readily available. Specific topics covered in the training should include the following:
SOP Training can also be conducted jointly with external responding agencies by utilizing the Capabilities Gap Analysis format, which delineates response capabilities and responsibilities between the TMC and external responding agencies. Additional information is available in the EOP section (3.6).
TMCs can learn from successful implementation of these training programs in transportation and TMC settings. While ICS-100 and ICS-200 are basic, easy to complete on-line courses, ICS-300 and ICS-402 represent more investments in training. ICS-300 is a classroom course spanning several days, and the ICS-402 requires time and commitment from senior executives. An advanced TMC training program should include basic courses along with more advanced offerings.
TMCs should take advantage of the applicability of ICS and NIMS to virtually any field, setting, or industry. This added benefit allows organizations and personnel from different fields who adopt ICS to understand and work within another emergency management framework. Different agency personnel, both trained separately in ICS, will immediately enhance their ability to effectively interact and cooperate during an incident. Joint training attended simultaneously by both TMC and public safety personnel offers additional value. Modification of these settings, scenarios, and examples can provide enhanced interagency cooperation and understanding.
A formal and well-developed drill/exercise program validates the concepts and policies embedded in the EOP and SOPs. The drills/exercises test the organization’s capability to execute their actions in an effective and integrated manner. A leading standard for exercise design, development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning is FEMA’s Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP). HSEEP is a capabilities and performance-based exercise program that provides standardized guidance and terminology. A key objective of HSEEP is to promote consistency among exercises across the nation to enhance national preparedness. A key component of HSEEP is fostering self-sustaining exercise programs by providing jurisdictions with consistent doctrine and resources for program management. A Visual illustration of the HSEEP process is provided in Figure 3.5.
Drills and exercises allow TMCs to evaluate and identify improvement for established policies, plans, procedures, and training. Exercises are a particularly valuable method of involving and interacting with external public safety and support agencies. The scope of a TMC’s operations can provide a variety of potential scenarios. Reasons to develop and conduct TMC-specific drills and exercises include the following:
The TMC Emergency Preparedness Working Group should form an Exercise Planning Team that will be responsible for planning, designing, developing, and conducting multistakeholder exercises. This team should conduct regular planning meetings to ensure coordination and progress from external agencies, including law enforcement, emergency management, fire, and EMS. Once formed, the Exercise Planning Team should develop a schedule outlining drill and exercise activities to conduct over a set timeframe, usually three to five years. This aids coordination with outside agencies and reduces potential for overlap with other exercises or activities that may draw on the same personnel or resources.
TMCs should adopt the FHWA and HSEEP guidelines for exercises, which support discussion and operations-based exercises of various types and sizes. The following types are predefined and available for consideration by the Exercise Planning Team:
The TMC Exercise Planning Team should utilize the standardized approach in HSEEP as planning guidance for developing discussion and performance-based exercises. The following are key activities identified within the HSEEP guidance for the design, development, and evaluation of exercises:
The AAR/IP has two components: An AAR captures observations and recommendations based on the exercise objectives and an IP identifies specific corrective actions, assigns them to responsible parties, and establishes targets for their completion. The lead evaluator and the exercise planning team draft the AAR and submit it to conference participants prior to an After-Action Conference. Conference participants receive the AAR for review no more than 30 days after the completion of the exercise.
TMCs should consider adapting previously utilized exercise formats and designs to their own needs. Exercises can be designed for transportation and accommodate a variety of participating agencies and jurisdictions. A selection of examples previously employed in transportation settings follows:
Exercise documentation should include the following:
The TMC can use the following checklist to evaluate their current status in support of a Continuity of Operations Plan. The TMC has developed a COOP Plan that includes the following (check all that apply):
❑ Documents leadership succession and assignment of authority.
❑ Assigns essential functions to specific teams.
❑ Documents identification and preparation of alternate facilities.
❑ Documents procedures for protection of vital records, databases, and communication systems.
❑ Documents procedures for maintenance of the plan.
❑ Identifies conditions necessitating the activation of the plan.
❑ Documents TMC hours of operation.
❑ Identifies of alternate work sites.
❑ Documents COOP teams.
❑ Delegates emergency authorities and orders of succession.
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United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration