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Guidelines for Transportation Emergency Training Exercises Recognize that they are part of the regional emergency response effort, and Correct gaps and vulnerabilities in the system. Exercises help the transportation agency to fulfill these responsibilities. In the transportation environ- ment, exercises provide an effective way to implement and fine-tune an agency's emergency plan, pro- vide training, and improve system safety and security. Transportation agencies that integrate exercise and evaluation programs into their preparedness activities can more efficiently and effectively execute their emergency response plans during an actual event. FEDERAL EXERCISE REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES With the exception of rules promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA),1 which regulates Amtrak and commuter railroads; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),2 which governs haz- ardous materials suppliers and shippers; and the Department of Energy (DOE),3 which oversees the shipment of radioactive materials, there are no specific regulatory requirements mandating transporta- tion exercise programs for state DOTs, transportation management centers, and public transportation agencies. Even without direct regulation or requirement, transportation agencies have an interest in obtaining sup- port from federal funding sources, guidance from the lessons learned through the exercise programs already established, and continued means of coordinating with other providers of emergency services that are most closely linked to existing funding sources and exercise requirements (i.e., with emergency management, emergency medical, fire, and law enforcement agencies). Both the FTA and the FHWA have issued recommendations and provided funding to support the conduct of emergency exercises. In 2002, using supplemental funds from the Department of Defense (DOD), FTA invited the largest 100 transit systems to submit applications for grants up to $50,000 per transit agency to conduct single or multiple emergency exercises. The amount awarded depended on the number and complexity of the exercises. Eighty-two of the largest 100 agencies applied for and were awarded grants. As a condition of these grants, transit agencies submitted after action reports (AARs) and evaluations and, in some instances, complete exercise packages to the FTA. Through the spring of 2004, the FTA assessed the materials received from transit agencies. Two reports have been issued so far: Development of Guidelines for Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Transit Emergency Opera- tions Exercises: Compendium of Drill Practice, FTA, Office of Safety and Security, Washington, D.C., March 2004. Briefing Paper of Learning Objectives and Measures of Effectiveness, FTA, Washington, D.C., March 2004. 1 49 CFR--Passenger Train Emergency Preparedness Part 239. According to Part 239, "each railroad oper- ating passenger train service shall conduct full-scale emergency simulations, in order to determine its capability to execute the emergency preparedness plan under the variety of scenarios that could rea- sonably be expected to occur on its operation, and ensure coordination with all emergency responders who voluntarily agree to participate in the emergency simulations." The frequency of emergency simu- lations under 49 CFR 239 varies, but for most affected agencies, it requires at least one simulation per year to include participation with local emergency responders, a critique, and a debrief. 2 The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, and corresponding reg- ulations issued by the states for local emergency planning committees (LEPCs), fire departments, and state emergency response commissions (SERCs). 3 The Transportation Emergency Preparedness Program (TEPP) is a departmentwide program that inte- grates transportation emergency preparedness activities under a single program to address the emer- gency response concerns of state, tribal, and local officials affected by the DOE's requirements for ship- ment of radioactive materials. 5
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Guidelines for Transportation Emergency Training Exercises These reports can be downloaded from http://trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=6007. Additional reports are pending. To provide guidance to support the development of emergency planning and exercise programs, in January 2003, the FTA released its "Top 20 Security Program Action Items for Transit Agencies," available at http://transit-safety.volpe.dot.gov/security/SecurityInitiatives/Top20/default.asp. This website provides resources and templates to help transit agencies implement 20 distinct action items prioritized by the FTA as critical to improving both security and emergency preparedness. The devel- opment of a transportation exercise program is highly recommended and addressed in two of the Top 20 Security Action Items. Other items, such as emergency response planning and training, also sup- port exercise programs. In 2002 and 2003, the FHWA conducted 21 workshops around the United States on transportation operations preparedness and response. The overall objectives of the workshops were to Increase participant awareness of (1) the critical processes, issues, and activities that may arise during and following an emergency and (2) the possible approaches for addressing them; Enhance working relationships among personnel from multiple organizations responsible for emergency preparedness and response in each of the 10 regions; For transportation emergency response planning and readiness in each of the 10 regions, iden- tify both (1) areas for improvement and (2) next steps to address these areas; and Provide input to transportation emergency preparedness guidance materials being prepared at the national level. These workshops also provided a model for conducting emergency exercises that could be used by state DOTs and transportation management centers around the nation. Also, the FHWA has estab- lished a website with information to support the development and evaluation of emergency exercises. This website is located at http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/OpsSecurity/. In cooperative programs with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Offi- cials (AASHTO), with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), with the FTA, and with the Ameri- can Public Transportation Association (APTA), the FHWA has sponsored training workshops on emergency planning and threat and vulnerability assessment. Both of these critical elements must be in place to support an effective exercise program. Additional information on these programs is available at http://www.trb.org/securitypubs. As will be discussed in the next section of this report, FEMA and the G&T have helped each other develop guidelines for conducting and evaluating emergency exercises. FEMA's program of guide- lines addresses exercises conducted for natural disasters and technological accidents; the G&T's program of guidelines focuses on terrorism-related events. Although following the guidelines in these programs is not mandatory, transportation agencies and their partners in municipal, county, and state governments can obtain grant funding by doing so. FEMA and G&T guideline programs, both revamped in the last few years, offer the most consistent guidance yet on exercise planning, perfor- mance, and evaluation. 6