Traffic Incident Management
Various traffic incident management scenes - heavy traffic after accident, traffic planning, police car blocking road, overturned car on bridge, detour, rescue workers.
Office of Operations 21st Century Operations using 21st Century Technologies

Emergency Transportation Operations Preparedness

Good emergency management begins with effective preparedness efforts. Following operations, many responders frequently report that good preparedness either made responses more effective or could have improved response. Preparedness relates to the activities, programs, and systems developed prior to an incident, disaster or emergency, which are used to support and enhance prevention, response and recovery. Preparedness efforts depend upon the resources and risks of a jurisdiction or region. The materials on this page will aid jurisdictions and agencies in their preparedness efforts.

Before the Event

Transportation and other responders work together regularly in planning for emergencies and practice those plans in joint exercises. Transportation is prepared for its role and to deliver its capabilities, which are well understood by all.

During and following an Emergency

Transportation is there at the incident scene, in the Transportation Management Center, and at the Emergency Operations Center. They are prepared - trained and equipped, and able to communicate. They are participating as an equal with other responders.

The Vision in Detail


  • Transportation Agency Plans
    • The transportation agency has a plan, and follows it.
    • It addresses both response and recovery.
    • It is current and complete.
    • It includes the types of threats we are now likely to face, including biological, chemical, and radiological.
    • They have exercised using it.
    • It reflects the available resources; they know where to find these and how to use them. These resources include:
      • Personnel
      • Assets
      • Personal protective equipment
      • Supplies
    • It includes actions at every level in the Homeland Security Advisory System.
    • It includes pre-planned alternate routes around all major assets and choke points.
  • Regional Emergency Management Plans
    • Transportation is reflected appropriately in the regional emergency management plan.


  • ITS
    • Agencies have ITS well integrated into their response and recovery plans.
    • Agencies have measures in place to protect their intelligent infrastructure
    • Partner agencies understand transportation's ITS capabilities
    • ITS information is shared with emergency management partner agencies
    • Agency ITS is effectively integrated with other emergency management systems, such as plume and dispersal models.
  • Communications Interoperability
    • Agencies are able to communicate internally and with response/recovery partners through workarounds in the short term.
    • Agencies have a long term plan for more permanent interoperability.
  • Tools
    • The agency has tools to assist it in conducting evacuations and other response activities in real time, such as flow modeling and redistribution.
    • These tools are effectively integrated with the agency's traffic management systems and information.
  • Incident Command System (ICS)/Unified Command System (UCS)
    • Transportation agencies understand ICS and UCS, and know how to operate in this environment.
  • Support
    • The agency has modified its support contracts to specifically address how contractors will assist in dealing with response to and recovery from acts of terror.
    • The agency has addressed how to work effectively with those agencies upon whom it will call for mutual aid.
  • Communication
    • The agency knows how to share information with the public during and following emergencies, and what information to share.
    • The agency knows what information it needs to provide to emergency management agencies to include with the other information being provided to the public
  • Assessment - This section provides information on the assessment of planning and preparedness for incidents and disasters.
  • Definitions - Definitions of key terms in homeland security, such as "preparedness" and "responder" were assembled from core documents including Homeland Security Presidential Directives and major homeland security national strategic documents.
  • Guidelines
  • Homeland Security Advisory System Compilation (PDF 254KB) - At the request of AASHTO, FHWA compiled this list of actions taken by state DOTs in response to each of the levels of the Homeland Security Advisory System.
  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8) - HSPD-8 is the Presidential Directive covering preparedness. This section provides links to materials covering what HSPD-8 means and how it will be implemented.
  • Plans and Planning
  • Training and Exercises - Training and exercises are essential to assuring preparedness. This area of the web site provides information on needs and methods for these two critical areas.


  • ITE Preparedness Checklist - ITE prepared this checklist to assist state and local DOTs in improving their planning and preparedness for disasters.
  • Traffic Incident Management Self-Assessment - Many of the key aspects of dealing with large scale incidents are practiced every day in dealing with small ones. FHWA's traffic incident management program prepared this self-assessment to help agencies determine how to improve their capability to deal with incidents on highways. The web site also provides the national report on findings from the first year's assessment.



  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8)
  • National Incident Management System (NIMS)
  • National Response Framework (NRF)
  • Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA 2002)
  • Department of Homeland Security Strategic Plan (DHS Strategic Plan)
  • State Homeland Security Assessment and Strategy Program
  • HSPD-8 Implementation Concept Paper

All-Hazards Preparedness

  • HSPD-8: "Refers to preparedness for domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies."
  • NIMS: Hazard - "Something that is potentially dangerous or harmful, often the root cause of an unwanted outcome."

First Responder

  • HSPD-8: "Refers to those individuals who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment, including emergency response providers as defined in section 2 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002…as well as emergency management, public health, clinical care, public works, and other skilled support personnel (such as equipment operators) that provide immediate support services during prevention, response, and recovery operations."
  • NIMS: Emergency Response Provider - "Includes Federal, State, local, and tribal emergency public safety, law enforcement, emergency response, emergency medical (including hospital emergency facilities), and related personnel, agencies, and authorities. See Section 2 (6), Homeland Security Act of 2002"
  • NRF: "First Responder. Local police, fire, and emergency medical personnel who first arrive on the scene of an incident and take action to save lives, protect property, and meet basic human needs. First responders may include Federal, State, local, or Tribal responders."


  • HSPD-8: "Refers to the existence of plans, procedures, policies, training, and equipment necessary at the Federal, State, and local levels to maximize the ability to prevent, respond to, and recover from major events. The term "readiness" is used interchangeably with preparedness."
  • NIMS: "The range of deliberate, critical tasks and activities necessary to build, sustain and improve the operational capability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents. Preparedness is a continuous process. Preparedness involves efforts at all levels of government and between government and private sector and non-governmental organizations to identify threats, determine vulnerabilities, and identify required resources. Within the NIMS, preparedness is operationally focused on establishing guidelines, protocols, and standards for planning, training and exercises, personnel qualification and certification, equipment certification, and publication management."


  • HSPD-8: None
  • NIMS: Recovery. The development, coordination, and execution of service and site restoration plans; the reconstitution of government operations and services; individual, private sector, nongovernmental, and public-assistance programs to provide housing and promote restoration; long-term care and treatment of affected persons; additional measures for social, political, environmental, and economic restoration; evaluation of the incident to identify lessons learned; post incident reporting; and development of initiatives to mitigate effects of future incidents.
  • NRF: Recovery. Recovery involves actions and the implementation of programs needed to help individuals, communities, and the environment directly impacted by the incident return to normal where feasible. Recovery actions assist victims and their families, restore institutions to regain economic stability and confidence, rebuild or replace destroyed property, and reconstitute government operations and services. Recovery actions often extend long after the incident itself. Recovery programs include hazard mitigation components designed to avoid damage from future incidents.


  • HSPD-8: None
  • NIMS: See NRF
  • NRF: Response. Activities that address the short-term, direct effects of an incident. Response includes immediate actions to save lives, protect property, and meet basic human needs. Response also includes the execution of emergency operations plans and of mitigation activities designed to limit the loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and other unfavorable outcomes. As indicated by the situation, response activities include applying intelligence and other information to lessen the effects or consequences of an incident; increased security operations; continuing investigations into the nature and source of the threat; ongoing public health and agricultural surveillance and testing processes; immunizations, isolation, or quarantine; and specific law enforcement operations aimed at preempting, interdicting, or disrupting illegal activity, and apprehending actual perpetrators and bringing them to justice.


  • Citizen Preparedness - This web site provides information that can be used by any citizen in preparing for disasters.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8)

HSPD-8 is the Presidential Directive covering preparedness. The Department of Homeland Security has developed a web site with many materials covering what HSPD-8 means and how it will be implemented. Contents include a Universal Task List for preparedness, Critical activities that the tasks constitute, and other helpful materials.

Plans and Planning

Training and Exercises

  • AASHTO Assessment of State DOT Homeland Security Training Needs (PDF 53KB) - Immediately after the 9/11/2001 attacks, AASHTO prepared this assessment of core training needs of State DOT employees.
  • Good Practices in Transportation Evacuation Preparedness and Response: Results of the FHWA Workshop Series (HTML, PDF 779KB) - This document provides an overview of the good practices identified during a series of multi-state workshops on Transportation Evacuation Preparedness and Response in four regions across the United States. The Best Practices are organized into the three phases used in the tabletop exercise section of the workshops. These phases were Preparation and Activation; Response; and Re-entry and Return to Readiness. The tabletop exercise section of the workshop included a scenario requiring an evacuation. The scenario changed and progressed through the three phases just as many emergency situations do when they occur. Workshop participants discussed the scenario at each phase and discussed what their concerns were at that point in time and how they would respond in such a situation. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-040)
  • System Security Awareness for Transportation Employees Training - AASHTO, through the National Transit Institute, has developed training material to provide highway workers with basic familiarization with homeland security issues and situations.
  • TOPOFF 3: Exercising National Preparedness - Top Officials 3 (TOPOFF 3) is the most comprehensive terrorism exercise ever conducted in the United States. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness (SLGCP), TOPOFF 3 is the third exercise in the TOPOFF Exercise Series, a Congressionally mandated exercise program. The exercise is designed to strengthen the nation's capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). TOPOFF 3 is made up of a two-year cycle of seminars, planning events, and exercises culminating in a Full-Scale Exercise that simulates a coordinated terrorist attack involving biological and chemical weapons. The Full-Scale Exercise will take place April 4-8, 2005.

Incident Command System Training

  • FEMA Independent Study Incident Command System Courses (FEMA 100)

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