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GUIDE FOR EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION OPERATIONS THE CHALLENGES The highway network is vulnerable to disruption from a variety of events--traffic inci- dents, weather, construction, natural disaster, and security-related incidents. This vul- nerability is increasing with increased traffic, urban development in vulnerable areas, and the threat of terrorism. Closures are more frequent and long back-ups often accom- pany even modest incidents. Those that occur on the upper-level systems--typically under state DOT jurisdiction--tend to be more serious and disruptive. Indeed, more than half of highway delay results from nonrecurring causes of this type. Furthermore, such incidents are the major contributor to the lack of predictability and reliability of high- way transportation service. These events also involve significant impact to life safety, property damage, and responder safety. It is apparent that effective management of highway system operations is critical for transportation agencies to improve public safety and mobility when any type of incident or emergency occurs. Handling the wide range of incidents that happen to occur on high- ways in the traditional generic "all incidents are really alike" manner is no longer appro- priate on highly traveled roadways where "business as usual" can cause tremendous dis- ruption on top of the incident or emergency itself.1 Resolving highway incidents and delays in the shortest possible time is important to both public safety and mobility. It contributes to more timely victim treatment, reduced acci- dent exposure, and a minimum of public inconvenience. There is not likely to be a more cost-effective approach meeting customer objectives and advancing public credibility. Therefore, traffic incident management (TIM) has increasingly focused on the subject of more organized planning on the part of both state DOTs and public safety communities. At the same time, there is heightened public focus on the critical function transportation plays in disaster response, including terrorist events, because transportation roadway networks, whether or not directly affected by an emergency, are always the means by which response and recovery are facilitated. In this context, the Department of Home- land Security's (DHS) National Incident Management System (NIMS) calls for more rigorous emergency management protocols with its principles of incident command, joint planning and standardization, and performance-based improvement. The overlap between TIM and the transportation aspects of disaster response, emergency management, and security-related operations is obvious and compelling. This guide pro- vides strategies for the development of a comprehensive, coordinated, performance- oriented approach among the transportation, public safety, and emergency management communities in responding to traffic incidents, natural disasters, and other types of emergencies. For purposes of this guide, this integrated approach is called emergency transportation operations (ETO). 1 Throughout this guide, reference will be made to state DOT current practice. While not specifically dis- cussed, the same issues and approaches are applicable to local government operations. 2