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GUIDE FOR EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION OPERATIONS IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES The improvement strategies are based on those set forth in (1) the limited guidance material focusing on TIM developed by the transportation and public safety communi- ties; (2) the accepted literature on emergency management and emergency operations plans developed and circulated by federal, state, and local emergency management agen- cies; (3) the discussion in the professional literature regarding the impact of earthquakes, hurricanes, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; (4) FHWA surveys of incident management practice; and (5) project interviews in selected states. This literature is reported in NCHRP Web Document 73, in the annotated bibliography. Improving the performance of ETO presents a significant opportunity to improve mobil- ity and traffic safety. Incidents that can be ameliorated through effective management (crashes, breakdowns, weather, crime, planned events) may be responsible for up to half of all delay from congestion. Other emergencies, such as natural disasters or security events, place special importance on effective management as part of the emergency response role. The life safety and property benefits from improved ETO are also signif- icant, whether measured in lives or reduced risks. Therefore, a systematic approach to improved ETO can have considerable value. Toward that end, the state of the practice in operations, technology, and institutions has been reviewed to identify key vectors of improvement that can achieve the objectives of state DOTs while being consistent with the perspectives and approaches of DOTs' partners in law enforcement, fire and rescue, towing and recovery, and other contributing agencies. BASIC IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES The basic challenges faced in improving ETO have been consolidated into five key areas ("realities") that characterize the current state of play. In response to each, strategies have been defined. Each strategy is selected to provide part of a framework to improve the performance of state DOTs and their public safety partners in accomplishing their shared goals, with a special emphasis on minimizing traffic disruption. The strategies are used as the basis for structuring the detailed elements contained within the guides. Ultimately, expanded ETO is not only possible, but is an emerging requirement and responsibility of state DOTs to ensure public safety, mobility, and continuity of govern- ment. There probably is not a more cost-effective approach to meeting customer objec- tives for improving mobility and safety. Furthermore, the heightened consciousness of risks and media exposure have increased public and political expectations for high- quality emergency response. In the material that follows, the principal challenges pre- sented by the current state of play are described together with the suggested strategic response. Reality 1. Need to Accommodate the Full Range of Incidents, Emergencies, and Hazards Many emergencies, whether generated through traffic, disaster, or criminal activity, have certain general traffic-related needs in common. Major, less frequent, or unique emergencies have other additional characteristics that must also be accommodated. 17
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GUIDE FOR EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION OPERATIONS These include special hazards, regional scale, public panic, security issues, and diver- sion or evacuation strategies. Strategy--Develop an Approach to ETO on an Integrated, Comprehensive, All-Emergency/Hazard/Discipline Basis Proactive anticipation of common and unique hazards and development of hazard-specific protocols and technology are key to improving safety of those involved in and responding to incidents. Useful features are incorporated from preparation and response requirements to the complete range of special events and emergencies. As indicated in Figure 4, the responder agencies have distinct but complementary objectives that lend themselves to simultaneous achievement. Reality 2. Absence of Widely Accepted Best Practice Approaches There are some emerging "best practices" for ETO. They are found in a few regions around the country where strong leadership has recognized the need for improvement. However, they are not widely publicized, acknowledged, or accepted. The Best Prac- tices section of the resources guide indicates some sources. Guidance and training exist, but are still substantially internal to each sector. The NIMS emphasizes the need for stan- dardization via the development of a coordinated "system" by state and regional agen- cies to create common procedures, terminology, qualification, equipment, and commu- nications. This is consistent with the need for a consolidated ETO approach. Strategy--Develop a Structured ETO Process with Joint Protocols and Procedures with Full Regard to the Range of Objectives while Minimizing Traffic Disruptions There appears to be significant efficiency and other benefits to combining the best practices from TIM and the range of ETO into a single comprehensive framework that can be organized, managed, and improved. The state DOTs and public safety agencies have different but overlapping objectives that must be accommodated. In general, the transportation community agrees that quick clearance for all incidents is a best practice to maintain the integrity of the trans- portation system. However, movement in this direction must be based on the negotiated development of protocols and procedures among DOTs, public safety agencies, and the towing and recovery community to establish effective com- mand, coordination, and response for effective management. Reaching agree- ments will require overcoming long-term institutional conventions that optimize individual agency objectives without regard to systems disruption. Reality 3. Effective Technology Not Integrated The potentials of new technology are not widely understood nor widely deployed. There are technology-based system needs in common among all involved agencies (such as interoperable communications) and technologies that can substantially enhance the per- formance of each player. The potential range of technology applications covers com- munications, personal protection, incident prediction processes, investigations, warning and detection technology, and automated response protocols. When these systems are installed and used to improve the management of emergencies, they must be maintained at a high performance level. 18
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GUIDE FOR EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION OPERATIONS Strategy--Examine Technology Opportunities and Cost-Effectiveness to Introduce New Technology to The geographic scale of disruption and high pub- Improve Efficiency, lic visibility of responsiveness for ice and snow Effectiveness, and removal has led most states to an organized, Safety proactive, technology-supported approach includ- Technology priorities and ing pre-event mobilization and computer dispatch- standard approaches must ing. NCHRP Report 526: Snow and Ice Control: be identified and examined Guidelines for Materials and Methods provides for their cost effectiveness. a model regarding procedural specifications. For state DOTs, many of Situation-specific strategy guidelines have been the technologies that sup- prepared, operational procedures are pre-specified port improved ETO are and trained to, resources are allocated, and perfor- part of traffic operations- mance is tracked and reported. The outcomes are oriented ITS systems in highly visible to the public. various stages of cost- constrained deployment. In some cases, the effectiveness of technology depends significantly on the related analytics and utilization rather than on simple deployment. The dual use potential of ITS technology can be incorporated in the resource allocation process. Opportunities also exist for cost sharing among agencies. Reality 4. Absence of Performance Accountability The notion of ETO as a program to be managed toward increased efficiency and reduced traffic disruption on a continuous performance improvement basis is not typically part of the DOT or public safety culture. However, the public is increasingly holding respon- ders accountable for the disruptive nature of many highway-related emergencies--this beyond administrative and political accountability to actual legal exposure. Legal lia- bility on the part of state DOTs for secondary crash victims or other problems related to long closures that are not adequately managed are an emerging consideration for trans- portation and public safety agencies. Without performance measurement, improvement is unlikely. FHWA has sponsored a study of various types of performances measures used to evaluate the progress of TIM programs in several locations around the country. The study included performance data collected by both transportation and public safety agencies and examined how the data was classified, used and stored (http://ops.fhwa.dot. gov/Travel/IncidentMgmt/docs/impmrptf/section1.htm). 19