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Nature and Degree of Hazards/Threats 91 Table 5. (Continued). Hazard Transportation Transportation's Role in Response is Target Technological Hazards Airplane crash Generally not an issue Transport first responders in their vehicles and unless crash is into the equipment. infrastructure. Bridge collapse Destroyed Provide alternative routing and transport first infrastructure. responders in their vehicles and equipment. CBRNE Generally not an issue. Transport caregivers and relief supplies. Temporary inability to use sections of infrastructure possible. Dam or levee Infrastructure might be Transport first responders in their vehicles, failure damaged or destroyed. materials, and equipment. Electromagnetic Electronic controls/ Arrange human resources to operate critical pulse systems lost. intersections. HAZMAT release Generally not an issue. Establish policy and/or guidelines for handling non-HAZMAT spills and procedures for activating HAZMAT mitigation. Power failure Electronic controls/ Arrange human resources to operate critical systems lost. intersections. Radiological Generally not an issue. Transport first responders in their vehicles and release equipment. Temporary inability to use sections of infrastructure possible. May especially complicate evacuations. Train derailment Generally not an issue Transport first responders in their vehicles, unless crash blocks materials, and equipment. infrastructure. Urban Infrastructure might be Transport first responders in their vehicles, conflagration damaged. materials, and equipment. Human-Caused Hazards Civil disturbance Infrastructure might be Transport first responders in their vehicles and denied. equipment. School violence Generally not an issue, Transport first responders in their vehicles. unless on buses. Terrorist or Infrastructure might be Transport first responders in their vehicles and criminal act denied or destroyed. equipment. Sabotage Infrastructure might be Transport first responders in their vehicles and denied or destroyed. equipment. War related Infrastructure might be Transport first responders in their vehicles, denied or destroyed. materials, and equipment. information is the DHS's Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS) website (LLIS, 2009). Appendix K lists other resources. Example: Escalation of Incidents and Response One of the most challenging responsibilities of emergency responders is to anticipate the escalation of incidents in severity and scope. A good example is an incident in Florida in January 2008. Table 6 chronicles the sequence of significant events occurring in this incident.
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92 A Guide to Emergency Response Planning at State Transportation Agencies Table 6. Florida I-4 Reduced-visibility incident. Date Time Event (2008) Jan. 8 10:00 AM Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) began a controlled burn of 10 acres at the Osprey Preserve, just off I-4 near Polk City. As the morning progressed, the humidity began to fall and the fire became difficult to control. ~Noon FWC requested assistance from the Florida Division of Forestry and Polk County Fire Rescue. Afternoon The fire burned throughout the day, jumped several fire lines, and grew to approximately 500 acres. As the fire was escalating, Polk County's Emergency Management Division responded and set up its mobile command post (MCV-1) for the various agencies to use. The MCV-1 is outfitted with an array of radios and other communications equipment, a remote video camera and several televisions, and a large generator to keep the unit self-sufficient. All interior wall space is covered with material similar to a dry erase board, so every vertical surface in the unit is a place to write information. Evening MCV-1 was used throughout the day and night to coordinate various Night operations, including a tactical back burn. The fire never penetrated into the muck area at the Osprey fire. The surface fire did however continue to smolder throughout the night. Forestry notified the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) about concerns with the smoke later in the day and the Florida DOT placed Smoke/Fog warning signs with flashing lights on the Interstate. Jan. 9 4:56 AM First report of a vehicle crash on I-4, FHP arrived by 5:11 AM. 5:00 AM Polk Co. Fire Engine 22, ALS 20, and Battalion 4 were dispatched to the reported vehicle accident on I-4 near Exit 48. According to the lieutenant on Engine 22, they arrived in relatively clear conditions and began giving aid. Morning While responders were loading a patient, a heavy fog quickly rolled in. Responders began hearing the sound of vehicles crashing into one another. By this time, the fog/smoke was so thick that the lieutenant ordered a firefighter to walk ahead of the apparatus and the lieutenant walked just in front of the truck and slowly moved toward what they thought was the scene of the other incident. The crews reported later that the visibility was so poor they could not even see their feet. (Other FHP and the Fire Department eyewitnesses said they could not see flames only feet away, but could feel the heat.) Unknown to the fire and EMS responders, a Polk Sheriff's deputy had been dispatched to a separate vehicle accident and was on scene when he witnessed a multi-vehicle accident. The lieutenant on Engine 22 reported multiple vehicles with patients trapped and several vehicles on fire. He then began requesting additional units and gave the responding battalion chief additional updates. The 3-person crew simultaneously pulled a line for fire control and began rapid extrication of trapped patients. During this time, additional crashes were taking place and the on-scene units repeatedly asked that the Interstate be shut down. Within minutes, additional units were dispatched and off-duty senior management personnel were notified. Polk County Sheriffs Office sent its MCV as well, and while it was recognized that this was the preferred Command Post (PC), it was time- consuming for Incident Command (IC) to relocate because of reduced visibility. Meanwhile, the Polk Co. EOC was coordinating interagency notifications and assistance calls. 10:30 AM The area was now clear of fog/smoke and all but one trapped patient had been treated and transported from the scene. The Interstate was closed to traffic in both directions. Multiple units from a number of agencies were working the scene. Command shifted from Fire Rescue to law enforcement. 11:46 AM The last patient was removed and transported. (continued on next page)
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Nature and Degree of Hazards/Threats 93 Table 6. (Continued). Date Time Event (2008) Afternoon Recovery work continued. Removal of the burned truck revealed pavement damage, which delayed reopening the highway. Jan. 9 Night FDOT crews worked around the clock to repair the damaged surface and 10 I-4 was reopened and normal operations quickly resumed. Summary Stats Four separate vehicle crash scenes, two with major fires. 70 vehicles, including about 20 tractor-trailers and tankers, involved in crashes. 4 fatalities and 38 injured (5 seriously). Lesson Learned Joint exercises paid off, but more are needed, especially with law enforcement and FDOT. 100% interagency communication is needed (about 95% of responders were on a common link). EOC needed to be the central CP. Strengthen Unified Command. Thermal imaging cameras proved very useful. Visibility impaired triage, better methods are needed. All responders need personal protective equipment (PPE); not all were so equipped. Full notification, including cessation of tolls on alternative routes, was needed. Primary Cause Zero-visibility fog: It is uncertain whether the smoke from the controlled burning, which got out of control, was a contributing factor, but the fog was sufficient in itself. Source: adapted from Linkins, 2008, news reports, and eyewitness accounts. This incident demonstrates that traffic incidents can and do rise to the level of major inci- dent. Despite intense planning and preparation, sometimes conditions are so unpredictable that no amount of preparation can prevent tragedy. As noted, the fog was so heavy that morn- ing that responders literally could not see their hands and feet (see Figure 10). The fog forced firefighters to walk vehicles off the interstate, guided more by feel than vision. The applica- tion of Unified Command worked well, but the visibility hindered the relocation of the Inci- dent Command Post, and ultimately responders realized that they needed a centralized CP at the EOC. While this might be an unusual example, it illustrates that what started out as a routine incident-- in this case, a controlled burn and an apparently unrelated crash--can rapidly escalate into a major incident. The specific matter of incident escalation is the subject of a separate white paper included as Appendix L (Wallace et al., 2009). For purposes of this 2010 Guide, the summary table illustrat- ing escalating roles (repeated here as Table 7) is included for ease of reference. Readers should refer to the white paper for more details. Note that a catastrophic incidents category was added to the incident types in the white paper table.
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94 A Guide to Emergency Response Planning at State Transportation Agencies a) Vehicle fires burning through the fog b) A burning vehicle in the heavy fog c) A firefighter's helmet in the fog d) One of the crash scenes after fires extinguished Photo credits: (a) TBO.com, News Channel 8, image by Peter Masa; (b-c) Polk County, Florida, Fire Rescue; and (d) Florida Highway Patrol. Figure 10. Florida I-4 reduced-visibility crash scenes.