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14 A Guide to Traffic Control of Rural Roads in an Agricultural Emergency 3.3 Communications Many existing LEOPs contain communications plans for emergency response. In planning a response to an agricultural emergency, it is important to consider communications at and between traffic control points. While law enforcement officials will most likely be equipped to communicate with each other, others involved in setting up traffic control and working at traffic checkpoints will need to be able to communicate with the each other, as well as with the emer- gency operations center. For example, the Traffic Monitoring Group might need to notify the Traffic Control Device Group that because of a long traffic queue forming at a checkpoint, the warning or detour signs should be moved further upstream. When planning for communication capabilities, the chain of command should also be con- sidered. Each responder should be able to communicate with his or her immediate supervisor. In a unified command, responders from different agencies in parallel positions should be able to communicate with each other. For example, the public information officer (PIO) from the state Department of Agriculture should be able to communicate with the PIO from the county as well as the PIOs at USDA, FEMA, and SEMA. Arrangements for open communication may include maintaining up-to-date, published phone lists that are available to all responders, equipping all response vehicles with cell phones and two-way radios, or simply establishing regular meetings with group members and the group leader when other means of communication are unavailable. Communication with the public is an essential part of both safe and efficient traffic control as well as effective and successful emergency response. The PIO must work with the Operations Sec- tion chief and the branch managers to keep the public informed of road closures, traffic check- points, and movement restrictions for livestock. Providing accurate and timely information can increase voluntary compliance and reduce confusion due to unexpected changes in traffic control. Helping drivers plan their trips in advance by providing reliable and up-to-date information can reduce delay and help contain the animal or plant disease. 3.4 Emergency Management Assistance Compacts Because rural counties may have limited staffing and resources, emergency management assis- tance compacts with the private sector and with surrounding jurisdictions are often critical. Planning efforts with neighboring counties is also critical, since quarantine areas may cross county boundaries. It is important to establish compacts between agencies in the planning stages so that when an emergency occurs, means of sharing resources are already in place. It may be helpful for counties to form compacts with counties that do not share a border because a foreign animal disease may spread to neighboring counties, which would eliminate their ability to spare resources. Formal emergency management assistance compacts are typically developed jointly and signed by all community partners; such agreements describe the specific aid that will be pro- vided or shared between jurisdictions and how the agencies that provide aid will be compen- sated. Many communities have existing compacts between law enforcement agencies, since mutual-aid is an important part of NIMS. These agreements can be kept as annexes to the LEOP so that they are easily accessible in an emergency. Beyond the traditional agreements between law enforcement agencies, agreements between public works and highway departments can also be helpful for emergencies that require extensive traffic control. Private owners of resources, such as contractors, utility companies, and others who may be able to provide vehicles, manpower, barricades, and signs can also be involved in aid agreements. Making arrangements for the use of these resources and establishing a structure for reimbursement before an emergency occurs may mean that more resources are available at the earliest critical stages of the response.