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OCR for page 49
GUIDE FOR EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION OPERATIONS State DOTs offering regular TIM support within rush hours but not the same level of support during other hours, even though it is common for the most severe incidents to occur late at night or in the early morning. Coordination of field and DOT TMC/dispatch activities between DOTs and law enforcement (detection, response, investigation, motorist information, site man- agement, clearance, recovery). A revision to the MUTCD (Chapter 6.I) sets forth concepts for temporary traffic con- trol in an incident context. However, these conventions are not yet well integrated into practice. OPERATIONS--STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES Excerpts of the FHWA "Traffic Incident Management Self-Assessment National Report" indicate that the majority of regions surveyed are making progress in some of the oper- ations areas of TIM but that progress is uneven. Key strengths and weaknesses are dis- cussed below in Table 21, combining selected survey results with indications from inter- views used in this guide. Table 21. Example Operational Strengths and Weaknesses from the FHWA TIM Self-Assessment Percent with Stron g Efforts or Better" Strengths Have specific policies and procedures for hazardous materials response? 69 Have a pre-identified contact list for incident clearance and HAZMAT 66 resources/equipment? Use motorist assist service patrols? 70 Utilize the Incident Command System? 54 Have specific policies and procedures for fatal accident investigation? 51 Weaknesses Utilize traffic control procedures for the end of the incident traffic queue? 14 Have established criteria for what is a "major incident" incident levels or 17 codes? Utilize on-scene traffic control procedures for levels of incidents in compliance 29 with MUTCD? Have quick clearance policies? 36 Train all responders in traffic control procedures? 30 Operational Strengths Improvements in ETO--as evidenced in TIM practices--have been modest and tenta- tive, typically driven by middle-management champions in state DOTs and their public safety counterparts. There has been some focus on the part of various stakeholders on the need to improve processes--for example, a study released over ten years ago by American Trucking Associations and the formation of the NTIMC. Increased attention to TIM within FHWA has produced case studies, a self-assessment, updates to a TIM handbook, and National Highway Institute TIM training material. 49

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GUIDE FOR EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION OPERATIONS Within the public safety community, the Incident Management Model Procedures Guide for Highway Incidents, published by the National Fire Service Incident Management System Consortium and USDOT, focuses on a range of traffic incident command set- tings. The Towing and Recovery Association of America also has developed guidance material. The increased attention to disaster management--especially for hurricanes--and to post-9/11 security has also brought more formal attention to the potential role of high- way ETO. In a small number of regions there has been more formal protocol develop- ment, joint DOT/public safety training in ICS and incident management, and some focus on improved technology. In addition, workshops by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and FHWA have looked at state DOT roles regarding terrorist events. Homeland security exercises such as the Top Officials (TOPOFF) exer- cise series included a formal role for transportation agencies. Operational Weaknesses There is wide variation in the state of the practice in ETO. This variation is due more to a lack of focus and commitment than to local context differences. There is no formally recognized and documented best "state of the practice." As suggested by Table 21, some of the transportation-oriented operational issues have not yet been widely addressed. The efficiency of an all-hazard approach calls attention to the differing characteristics and dynamics of various incidents and emergencies. These include the varying time scales, pace of incident development, and incident persistence. Still, the special operational needs associated with the range of incidents and emergencies have not been approached on a coordinated basis. Highway-related emergency management procedures related to HAZMAT, WMD, and major disasters have not been well-integrated into the incident management process in most states. There may be differing priorities at the scene of an emergency. Incidents and emergen- cies are not perceived in state DOTs and public safety agencies in the same way regard- ing their traffic service implications. The use of ICS is appropriate for field tailoring to unique events with minimal external impacts. This flexibility sometimes diverts focus from substantial opportunities to carry out life safety, law enforcement, and property preservation activities while at the same time accommodating key transportation needs. From a transportation point of view, major improvements in safety and efficiency have been demonstrated through developing and integrating comprehensive approaches based on coordinated and prepared operational regimes, rapid provision of emergency response, and speedy recovery of service. However, highway-related protocols and procedures employed locally for ETO vary widely nationwide. For example, quick clearance policy is in force in only a handful of areas, MUTCD-compliant traffic control is not widely used, traffic control training for responders is modest, and proper staging and emergency lighting are not widely employed. A major concern is the lack of training to formalize an approach designed to reducing the number and severity of secondary crashes. Although there has been an increasing level of training in incident command (among most public safety agencies and some DOTs) and in TIM among DOTs, the field of ETO has not yet been professionalized as part of basic training curriculums and agency poli- cies. State DOTs are not yet consistently committed to incident management in terms of 50