Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
36 THE MEANING OF âAIRPORT CLOSEDâ AND âAIRPORT OPENâ Interviewees repeated used such phrases as âthe airport was closedâ or âthe airport reopened,â most often in the context of aircraft operations. While some smaller airports may actually close down entirely, larger airports may claim that they never âclose,â or only close particular areas, because they consider the airport to be far more than just a place where aircraft take off and land. Even when aircraft are no longer taxiing or in flight, other activitiesâconcessions, aircraft services, airport maintenance, vehicular traffic control, and airport administrationâwill continue to function, per- haps even at a greater than normal pace. This is why many larger airports object when the media, airlines, FAA, law enforcement, or others state that the airport is closed. Unscheduled airport closures are generally triggered by either safety or security related incidents. Air- port operators, the TSA, and the FAA function collaboratively and respectfully of each otherâs responsi- bilities and jurisdiction to respond, assess, and mitigate the associated risks. The airport certificate holder or operator is solely responsible for the partial or total closing and reopening of the airport. This said, the FAA has ultimate control and authority over the National Airspace System which when shut down, as on 9/11, will essentially halt all landings and takeoffs from U.S. airports. From a national airspace or FAA air traffic perspective, an airport runway or taxiway is closed only when a recognized representative of the certificate holder or airport operator issues a verbal order or a written NOTAM. The TSA has the authority to stop air travel or require that an area be rescreened for security pur- poses when it is deemed that a significant threat exists. The TSA may exercise this authority working in conjunction with the FAA and airports, as on 9/11; or in the case of a localized threat, through regulatory authority over the airport. FAA 14 CFR Part 139 prescribes the rules governing the certification and operation of air car- rier airports. Part 139 requires certificated commercial airports to develop an Airport Certification Manual describing how the airport will manage non-standard conditions including emergencies. The FAA has also issued hundreds of airport 150 series Advisory Circulars which further describe the standards for the safe operations of airports. These standards become regulatory through grant assurances, which apply to most airports including GA airports. FAA 49 CFR Part 1542 requires airports to develop an Airport Security Program (ASP) that defines standards for the secure operations of the airport; in the ASP, the airport operator commits to maintaining the prescribed security standards and to taking corrective action when necessary to ensure those standards. Aviation security (AVSEC) protocols, up to and including the closure of the airport to aircraft operations until such time as security can be restored to the prescribed standard, are defined and agreed to within the airportâs ASP. The TSA may trigger AVSEC procedures when it deems that a security threat warrants such action. It is then up to the airport operator and its response partners to put the measures in place or to take the necessary corrective action before air traffic can resume. Although the decision to open, close, or reopen an airport begins and ends with the airport opera- tor or certificate holder, they must take into account binding agreements and approvals that have been incorporated in the airportâs ASP and ACM. They also must ensure that agencies having an interest chapter three FINDINGS
37 or legal jurisdiction, such as FAA, TSA, CBP, FBI, and CDC, are respected, involved, and informed throughout the decision processes leading to recovery. A MAJOR CULTURE SHIFT HAS OCCURRED In the 37 interviews and particularly in the four case examples, the authors found that airports appear increasingly willing to share details, results, and lessons learned with their stakeholders, communi- ties, peer airports, the media, and the public. One possible explanation is that such transparency is aimed at increasing the preparedness and resiliency of individual airports and of the aviation indus- try as a whole. This cultural shift seem likely to be at least partially the result of the environment of information exchange and mutual respect created by ACRP publications and panels, the airport disaster operations groups (SEADOG and WESTDOG), the ARFF Working Group, and the AAAE Emergency Management Conferences. At the request of San Francisco International and Los Angeles International airports, ACI-NA facilitated peer airport visits and conferences after those airportsâ major incidents in 2013. An airport emergency management community has emerged over the past three years, which has brought closer ties among airports. The cultural change seems to be the fruit of this emerging community and of senior management that appreciates and supports it. EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND LESSONS LEARNED The interview data were qualitatively analyzed first by incident type and then by themes or broad categories. Based upon the results of this analysis, effective practices were grouped under the fol- lowing eight broad categories (Figure 19) that are germane to an all-hazard approach to recovery at an airport after an emergency or disaster: â¢ Advance planning and preparation â¢ Command and control â¢ Mutual aid â¢ Comprehensive crisis communications â¢ Operations and logistics â¢ Employee care â¢ Customer care â¢ Assessment, revision and validation of changes. FIGURE 19 Categories of effective practices.
38 When used in this report, the term âeffectiveâ means that most or all of the airports reported that a practice had improved or would have improved recovery. Effective management practices compiled from the airports in the study are summarized in this chapter to provide guidelines airports can follow when planning, executing, training for, drilling for, and assessing the effectiveness of their recovery efforts. In each category, practices are presented in terms of which of the four incident types they fit: aircraft accidents, natural disasters, criminal acts, or systems failures. This grouping is different from the categories in a typical ICS structure and has been chosen to represent the main temporal or functional clusters of activities reported at an airport during recovery. Advance Planning and Preparation When it comes to recovery, all the airports share a number of practices that contribute to success and are committed to continually improving these practices. Advance planning and preparation involves stakeholders and encompasses planning, training, preparing facilities and equipment, ensuring the availability of critical supplies and services, and making financial and accounting arrangements. In addition, for incidents involving aircraft accidents, part of the planning process is preparing to work with and anticipating the requirements of NTSB and other investigators. Planning The most effective practice is to have a recovery plan accompanying each response plan. Response and recovery plans can be all-hazards or there can be separate plans for each hazard; both approaches were seen among the 37 airports. Where the recovery plan is inserted into airport plans is a matter of local choice and does not appear to affect the usefulness of the plan or the quality of its outcomes. Recovery plans were variously seen as: â¢ part of airport emergency plan (AEP), â¢ part of the airportâs continuity of business plan (COB or BCP), â¢ part of the continuity of operations plan (COP), â¢ a stand-alone all-hazards recovery document, â¢ a series of recovery plans for specific types of incidents, â¢ a series of response and recovery plans for specific types of incidents, or â¢ some combination thereof. The recovery plan works most effectively when linked by reference to the other documents, and complementarity helps avoid confusion and unnecessary delays. Recovery plans using an all-hazards approach appear to be more robust and satisfactory to air- ports than recovery plans based on a single incident type or subtype. In any case, the recovery plan works more effectively when based on facts along with realistic risk and hazard analyses. Geo-based risk analysis is helpful for planning safe storage of essential equipment for recovery. Plans would consider the effects of off-airport systems failures and the possibility of cascading systems failures. Involvement of all stakeholders in the development and review of a recovery plan improves the quality of the plan and its usability. This is the âWhole Community Approachâ to emergency man- agementâ (FEMA 2011b). Furthermore, it creates buy-in for the plan and builds relationships that make complex recovery actions more likely to succeed (see also Smith 2014). Leases and contracts can be implemented to require airlines, tenants, and concessionaires to have local recovery plans compatible with the airportâs plan, and to spell out obligations, roles, and responsibilities of these entities during recovery. If a recovery plan does not include procedures to ensure that members of ICS structure, including IC or UC members, or other key employees or mutual aid partners can access the areas where they
39 are needed, delays in establishing the on-scene command post or even activating the airport EOC can result. Training A unifying tenet at most of the airports was that effective training on NIMS and ICS is essential for airport employees, key airline employees, key tenants, and mutual aid partners. Periodic refresher training ensures preparedness. The airports reported that holding an annual briefing on recovery plan and procedures was beneficial for airport employees, airlines, tenants, concessionaires, and mutual aid partners. Effective recovery may require special planning for how to: â¢ get employees to work (dealing with gridlock, fuel shortages, mass transit disruptions, routes, vehicles, staging plan, etc.); â¢ accommodate citizens (non-passengers, non-employees at airport) who come to the airport for shelter and aid; â¢ control access to the airport during recovery; â¢ work with airport-to-airport mutual aid groups (i.e., SEADOG and WESTDOG); and â¢ work with NTSB or other investigators if a crash or criminal act is involved. NTSB training courses and workshops are particularly valuable for this eventuality. Training for rare occurrences tests the limits of the recovery plan and the skills of personnel. It also encourages creativity, which is important when an incident develops in an unexpected manner, systems fail, or equipment is not available or breaks down, and flexibility and innovative problem solving are needed. Initial and recurring training on web-based coordination systems used for emergencies and in airport EOCs is essential. Several airports reported issues and delays caused by trying to use unfamiliar systems. If such web-based systems go unused for months or years between emer- gencies, vital personnel, including mutual aid partners, may forget how to use them (IEM Inc. et al. 2013). Preparing Systems, Facilities, and Equipment Every airport found it important to have backup plans in place for all critical systems, procedures, equipment, and personnel. Backup approaches include procuring and maintaining equipment such as emergency generators, but also include developing alternate procedures and workarounds. Testing all systems critical for recoveryâcommunications, alternative communications, notifica- tion, and web-based coordination systemsâprevents delays or other problems with recovery. Arranging to Obtain Critical Supplies and Services A major element of success in recovery is to pre-arrange access to services, spare parts, airport NAVAIDs, and consumable resources. The FAA can help an airport identify sources of backup or replacement airport NAVAIDs systems and parts. It is prudent to negotiate contracts for special- ized services in advance (e.g., aviation law, public relations, debris removal and disposal, airfield lighting electricians, or electrical inspectors). It is also advisable that airports know where to obtain specialized services and equipment, for example, cranes and other equipment for recover- ing aircraft wreckage. A relationship with one of the airport-to-airport mutual aid programs such as SEADOG and WESTDOG can be leveraged not just to obtain assistance from experts at other airports but also to facilitate the loan of long lead-time repair parts (IEM Inc. et al. 2012).
40 Financial and Accounting Arrangements Airports that made preparations for recovery in their business procedures, finances, and accounting systems reported satisfactory outcomes. Such preparations typically included: â¢ Budgeting for contingencies to cover response and recovery in emergencies and minor disasters; â¢ Establishing adequate cost and expense record-keeping systems to support eventual reimburse- ment or insurance claims, ideally integrated into a web-based coordination system; â¢ Establishing a system for tracking personnel and equipment for possible reimbursement or insurance claims; â¢ Reserving sufficient cash to run the airport for four to six days (when a forecast allows) in case bank services are unavailable during response and recovery; â¢ Pre-authorizing overtime for recovery activities; and â¢ Pre-authorizing purchasing of supplies and services likely to be required for recovery (e.g., modular buildings). Command and Control Overwhelmingly, the airports surveyed indicated one of the top effective practices was the creation of a Unified Command (UC). A UC can be conducted both in the field and in the airport EOC. Gener- ally a UC consists of the ICS and NIMS responders, as well as representatives from stakeholders in airport-critical lines of business (maintenance, IT, parking, tenants, airlines, etc.), along with TSA, FBI, CBP, FAA, FBOs, utility companies, etc. Exercises ideally involve all groups that may be part of the UC during a critical situation where compliance with NIMS/ICS is required. A common theme in many airport interviews was that ICS, EOCs, and UC uphold the principles of standardization and collaboration to ensure effective com- munications among all responders and external agencies and help coordinate efforts of individual agencies (Stambaugh et al. 2014). The ICS is comprised of five major functional areas: command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance/administration. A sixth functional area, intelligence/investigations, may also be estab- lished if required (Deal et al. 2006). A number of airports identified planning section responsibilities as an area needing improvement and additional training. The planning section plays a critical role during the recovery phase. This sec- tion maintains information and intelligence on the current and forecast situation, as well as the status of resources assigned to the incident. It also prepares and documents the IAP and maps, gathers, and disseminates information and intelligence critical to the incident. It is important that the planning section of the ICS structure be familiar with the recovery plans in place and utilize them during the incident. Both response and recovery plans should be proactive, not just reactive. Ideally, the planning section would be planning for recovery from the beginning of the response phase, and planning would continue for later stages of recovery during each current stage. The EOC planning section must prepare for impacts to the airportâs various systems, knowing that those impacts will change as recovery progresses. The section must effectively manage human resources to provide adequate rest and shift rotations of available staff to ensure prompt and contin- ued recovery. Event management technology platforms can aid in the organization and communica- tion of recovery staffing schedules. Accurate real-time record-keeping and documentation such as report forms, checklists, and data collection are critical for seeking future possible reimbursement. Good record-keeping and documentation can prevent troubles when critical incidents occur. The worst time to discover that the out-of-date toothpaste in customer care kits has turned to powder is during distribution.
41 Airports also asserted the absolute importance of ongoing training for ICS, airport EOC and UC roles, responsibilities, and procedures. All airport department heads and key personnel and their backups would benefit from training in airport EOC functions. This became quite clear from the smaller airports interviewed, as they simply ran out of personnel; they indicated that some transient volunteers did not apply ICS as proficiently as locally trained members, creating minor barriers in the airport EOC. Airports also reported that training employees for dual roles, for example, training maintenance personnel for crowd management during repopulation after evacuation, was the highest and most effective use of available personnel. It is important that stakeholders be educated as to their roles within UC, clearly understand these processes, and know how and when to interact. Mutual Aid Several airports identified instances where recovery was expedited by mutual aid partners. Airports leverage a majority of their mutual aid from agencies in the surrounding areas; but interviewees frequently referred to the benefit of establishing an airport-to-airport mutual aid consortium. Several pointed to the value of belonging to SEADOG and WESTDOG, two widely known airport Disaster Operations Groups (DOGs). Along with the airport-to-airport mutual aid groups, it is also very important to establish mutual aid within an airportâs own system of airports, as well as with neighboring airports. For example, Colorado has a highly specialized airport-to-airport/airport-to-community mutual aid program, the Colorado Aviation Recovery Support Team (CARST), which provides mentoring, support, and guid- ance to assist in an airport or community recovery from an aviation incident (ACRP Report 73â IEM Inc. et al. 2012). Another identified effective practice was to establish a contractual relationship or mutual aid pact with necessary systems vendors and contractors needed immediately following an emergency. One airport in this study has an Airport Community Emergency Response Team (A-CERT) (Griffith et al. 2014). Another airport developed something analogous to an A-CERT immediately after the incident studied in this report, and numerous other airports reported that they are exploring A-CERTs. Local volunteer groups, such as the Citizen Corps, can provide NIMS-certified volunteers famil- iar with ICS environments who can provide substantial support during the recovery process. Using volunteers would require developing a plan for escorting un-badged helpers. The language of tenant contracts and agreements is a critical element of preparation for recovery efforts. Many airports formulate emergency support language into their agreements with airport- based contacts, agencies, and tenants. These agreements can include support for areas such as inci- dent reporting and cleanup criteria, and delineate required tenant participation in emergency training and exercises. Airports also stressed the importance of formal agreements for services such as aircraft recovery and removal contractors, debris removal contractors, and HAZMAT companies. If possible, contract- based assistance would be exercised before any actual incident. Agreements with companies or other entities such as the military or FBO groups that have appropriate and sufficient equipment to recover damaged aircraft would be established. Ideally, these agreements ensure that the airport will exercise the highest priority access to such specialized equipment and manpower. Airports are advised to prepare and familiarize partners with routes, escort procedures, credential- ing, and other access details and limitations. It is essential that the airport clearly designate staging and marshaling areas and ensure that their mutual aid partners are familiar with their locations and access procedures. One airport emphasized that to be effective, these agreements must extend beyond paper; in an emergency, they depend on well-developed relationships with local and regional partners. Both
42 formal meetings and informal gatherings build trust, enhance communication, and foster commitment to common goals (Smith 2014). Comprehensive Crisis Communications The majority of airports surveyed indicated they have a communications plan as part of their AEP. However, they report that the plans often lack depth and clarity, especially concerning emerg- ing technologies such as social media, websites, cell phone failures, control of PA systems, and internal and external mass communications during an emergency. Several airports have added additional public relations staff to attend to the complex environment of modern communica- tions. A number of airports encountered issues with their emergency communication capabilities during incidents, and are currently developing and revising crisis communications plans separate from their AEP. A stand-alone communications plan can be updated rapidly in a changing media and communication environment. The ACRP Report 65: IROPS Guidebook (Mead and Hunt and Risk Solutions International 2012) provides checklists to help create communication plans for irregular operations at the airport. Airports also emphasized that it is necessary to act in concert with other responding agencies and âspeak with one voiceâ when making statements concerning emergencies. Difficulties with messaging and media relations frequently arise in AARs. Consistent and accurate communication of facts before, during, and after an event facilitates effective recovery. The role of the airportâs PIO during disasters must be clearly understood. Lack of message discipline can quickly complicate recovery efforts, confuse and frustrate stakeholders, and result in the loss of public confidence. A few airports indicated they now have contractual agreements with public relations firms to assist in time of crisis, as they do not have adequately trained staff and/or they are required to reserve airport staff for in-house matters during a crisis. As events unfold, it is important that airports ensure that their PIO is working through the multi-agency Joint Informa- tion Center (JIC); involved agencies should avoid making statements outside of the JIC. Several airports recommended the PIO courses provided by NTSB as particularly useful. Communication issues were a constant topic of concern throughout the interviews, and airports are very aware of the benefits of a CCCP for both internal and external communications. Technologies that develop and disseminate a COP of an event can help maintain consistency of critical information and greatly enhance communication and information sharing between EOCs, UC teams, field command posts and other critical stakeholders. COP technologies require user training and periodic refresher courses for all levels of airport staff, airlines, tenants, and mutual aid partners. Many COP technologies provide functionalities such as real-time information sharing, event management and documentation, resource tracking, and asset management. Data collection and documentation from COP technologies can support AARs as well as post-event training. ACRP Report 94 provides more information on web-based emergency management systems (IEM et al. 2013). A Wireless Emergency Alert system quickly reaches all cellular phones within a predefined area with critical life safety information. Other systems to explore include social media, websites, reverse 911 message systems, etc., can all be adapted to improve ADA compliance. Airports realize the necessity for effective and immediate communication with the public within their facilities during natural disasters. Timely and effective public notification can be a challenge for airports when PA systems are compromised or are zoned in a manner that fails to reach certain areas. To avoid negative consequences during an incident, technology-based announcement and warning systems require regular maintenance and testing. Social media can be a valuable and effective communication and assessment tool before, during, and after a natural disaster or emergency, if Internet access is intact. To prevent the spread of mis- information, most airports assign an individual to monitor social media for public comments about an event. Technology systems are available that provide mass filtering and search capabilities to
43 gather and survey public comments and communications regarding a disaster; this information helps airports better understand public needs and perspectives. While some airports report real success in their ability to utilize social media during an incident or event, others report a need to incorporate or improve procedures and policies regarding social media in their CCCP. Many of the small GA, reliever, and non-hub primary airports strongly advo- cated outsourcing media relations, public relations, and social media management to a public rela- tions firm, an aviation law firm, or both. If an airport does not have a trained PIO on staff or an aviation-savvy PIO available from a sponsor or sister agency, an outside agency can help prevent misstatements and misunderstandings that might result in long-term damage to an airportâs reputation and economics. Overwhelmingly, airports continue to struggle with the ability to maintain interoperable radio communications. All of the airports stressed the absolute necessity of interoperable radio systems within and among the airport, the city or county EOC, and mutual aid partners in every phase of an emergency event. Several also noted that airlinesâ station managers, major airport tenants, and con- tractors would benefit from being included in the interoperable communications system. In general, airports understand that they cannot assume they can solely rely on cell phones, land- lines, or the Internet during an emergency or disaster, as these systems easily fail during extreme events. Many airports stress the importance of establishing independent back-up communications systems. A common theme throughout the interviews was that systems often fail during emergencies. Sys- tem failures can be idiosyncratic, or, as many airports report, they are often a byproduct of a larger incident, most often a weather event or natural disaster. While many weather threats are forecast in advance, severity and damage is an unknown until the event has subsided. Good forecasting gives an airport a window of opportunity to ready the facility; however, system failures outside the airports, such as banking, can seriously hamper recovery if airports do not have a predetermined amount of cash in reserve. Aircraft accidents and criminal acts are much less predictable, making the planning and training phase more essential as the event plays out in real time. Many airports reported they were continu- ally amazed by the number of functions at an airport that are controlled electronically, from doors to escalators to ticketing; losing power and/or connectivity means these systems are useless, and some- times even present a hazard. It is a sound practice to inventory all electrical systems at the airport and determine backup systems or plans in the event of system failure. Employees tend to use only systems that are familiar. Airport employees who rarely use emer- gency systems are not comfortable with them and as a result may not use them during the height of an emergency. Airports with emergency management-specific systems found that their employees were either unable or reluctant to utilize them; this universal observation calls for evaluating sys- tems for user-friendliness as well as regular use and enhanced training to improve proficiency in an emergency. As previously indicated, some airports have technology systems specifically designed to drive EOC functions and/or share a COP during events or emergencies. Many airports stressed the impor- tance and value of these systems for overall record-keeping, asset and resource management, and of sharing a COP with involved stakeholders. Operations and Logistics Response and recovery almost always require cooperation. Airports realize that operations through- out all phases of an emergency or natural disaster involve a variety of responding agencies and businesses, often among several jurisdictions. It is important that all participants be well versed in the guiding principles of NIMS, ICS, and UC, and possibly the National Response Framework. All
44 operation groups responding to an airport event must understand and practice the principles of ICS throughout the response and recovery phases. Nearly all of the airports surveyed hold ongoing ICS and NIMS training for their personnel. Even smaller airports (non-Part 139) found ways through their jurisdictions to receive training in NIMS and ICS, leading to stronger cohesion among all responding groups and greater flexibility when managing the event or incident. NIMS and ICS training standardizes approaches to organization and communication; this facili- tates effective communication among all responders and external agencies and helps coordinate efforts of diverse individual agencies (Stambaugh et al. 2014). NIMS and ICS designate a single centralized IC or UC to manage all responding operational groups. A typical response begins with an IC but shifts to a UC if the response becomes complex. However, many airports report that they initiate the UC command structure from the start, as recov- ery operations at airports are typically complex immediately. In cases where a UC was in place at the beginning of recovery, command often shifted to an IC, usually an airport department head, as the situation became more manageable. Several of the incidents reviewed involved a phased approach to recovery wherein normal opera- tions were restored to individual portions of the airport sequentially over time. These types of responses can quickly complicate the planning and communication efforts involved. Several airports reported practicing a âwarm startâ for their recovery efforts, planning the details of recovery from the very beginning of the response phase, as described in the LAX case example. In these cases, despite the prolonged investigation phase, the warm start enabled the airport to develop and activate a detailed, focused, and highly organized recovery, saving time and money. Multiple airports urged their peers to pre-plan recovery strategies, and when disaster strikes to start planning the specifics of recovery as early in the response phase as possible. As related to recovery, many airports indicated a need for specialized response and inspection teams for evaluating and addressing structural and environmental compliance issues. They advocate activating internal go teams to inspect the airportâs infrastructure and assess damage, capacity, and environmental issues following an incident. Airports could benefit from developing incident type- specific inspection plans, assignments, and priorities for inspections. Some airports within the FAA Southern Region report that their Regional Office of Certification Inspectors has a checklist they utilize to assess hurricane damage. Inspection teams should be established before events when staffing allows, and made familiar with Building Inspection Code Enforcement (BICE). Electrical inspectors qualified to inspect airfield systems (e.g., lighting) can be pre-contracted to guarantee rapid response when needed. Air- ports may want to include engineers as an integral part of the inspection teams as well; this practice will assist return to normal operations as well as uncover long-term issues that will of necessity be identified and addressed following recovery. All critical areas would have pre-designated inspection teams to rapidly assess safety, functionality, and repair requirements. The teams, their use, and their procedures would to be drilled with the airport. Effective practices call for communication and planning with the airportâs certification inspector. To achieve a phased recovery, airports often are required to obtain waivers for operation from the FAA; it is best that communication with the airportâs certification inspector regarding these and other procedures take place well ahead of a forecast weather event. Employee Care Respected, supported, and properly trained employees ensure an effective recovery. At all times, but especially during a recovery, it is important that airports manage human resources effectively to ensure an uninterrupted, continuous effort. It is prudent to anticipate shortages or procurement issues and be prepared to provide basic employee requirement such as shelter, food, rest, comfort, and supervision.
45 Emergencies and accidents generally bring trauma, suffering, and loss. Most airports surveyed identified a stress debriefing as a critical piece of airport recovery, as unprocessed trauma can lead to problems down the road. Individual and small group counseling is often made available during the recovery process and is especially warranted at airports that experience an aircraft accident or crimi- nal act. Previous research favors the use of a facilitator with aviation incident experience (Kenville et al. 2009). Several issues emerged regarding planning, training and assessing employee care prior to an emergency. A plan would be in place to rotate employees for each operational period, as people require rest even when commitment and adrenaline levels are high. Event management technology platforms can simplify and expedite organization and communication of recovery staffing schedules. Most of the airports reported conducting critical incident stress debriefings for employees, tenants, and stakeholders during their final phases of recovery. Separate from the AAR meeting, these stress debriefings make mental health trauma specialists available to employees to help them process the event in their own ways. Most found it beneficial to employ someone outside the organi- zation with aviation experience. They emphasized the benefits of addressing sensitive issues in small peer groups rather than a single large meeting. A number of interviews pointed to the importance for providing training for both emergency and non-emergency personnel to determine and improve their competence in certain areas. Other airports noted in their AARs that employee depth of knowledge and expertise, and scheduled rotation of personnel working on recovery events required proactive management. A repeated theme was the need for further cross-training of personnel to qualify them to serve in multiple backup and relief roles. Training critical airport personnel on NTSB site documentation can facilitate efficient runway re-openings. In the case of natural disasters, personnel may want respite care to attend to their own homes and family members. Several airports reported assisting staff with cleaning debris and storing belong- ings; this type of respite ensures they can return to their roles rested and without distraction. Recovery efforts can be bolstered by training employees for dual roles; for example, maintenance personnel can be trained to assist in crowd management during repopulation after an evacuation. Customer Care The safety, care, and comfort of customers was an overriding theme in all 37 interviews. Most air- ports pride themselves on providing high quality customer service; in a crisis, however, customer service is put to the ultimate test. Many airports assume that in the event of a disaster, airlines will meet the needs of the family and friends of victims, as required by the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996. However, some interviewees indicated that this was not always the case in actual crises. Airports cannot assume that the airlines will be able to meet the immediate require- ments of family and friends of customers at their airport, and many larger commercial airports have experienced situations that necessitated the activation of an airport response plan for family assistance functions following an air disaster. Many airports are now considering developing their own specific family assistance plans. The need for family support is most acute when very few airline employees are on site or when airline customer services at the airport are outsourced to third parties. Three airports that experienced general aviation accidents said they were poorly prepared to deal with the family assistance portion of the recovery process. Often the local FBO is not con- nected with the aircraft in question, and therefore has no responsibility to assist the airport. Air- ports would be wise to develop plans for assisting the family and friends of the victims throughout the recovery phase. Interviewees also recommended that airports be prepared to manage and care for the public within their facilities when events occur. Many airports reported having a âStranded Passenger Planâ to
46 guide the process of providing service to travelers in need. Several airports noted that their IROPS plans provided a good basis for this. Assessment, Revision, and Validation All 37 airports perform aggressive after-action reviews following every incident, including recovery. In the AARs, the airports review actions, outcomes, and consequences to see what worked and what needs improvement, and incorporates the results into revised AEPs, recovery plans, etc. The result- ing plans and changed procedures are then typically tested using tabletop exercises (TTX), drills, and full-scale exercises; and eventually the revised plans and procedures become the basis of updated training requirements and lesson plans. Several airports achieved considerable success using an outside facilitator to help develop AARs; others are considering using an outside contractor to facilitate exercises and plan review processes. Airports found that a critical outside post-event review of their actions led to more substantive lessons learned that then were built back into their AEPs, response plans, and recovery plans. Most of the interviewees advocated taking an all-hazards approach when developing emergency plans, especially when building plans for their facilities. ACRP Report 112 (Griffith et al. 2014) pro- vides a guidebook and templates for the development of comprehensive Terminal Incident Response Plans (TIRPs) that cover events such as evacuation, shelter-in-place procedures, and repopulation for a variety of incidents that disrupt normal operations in airport passenger terminals: snowstorms, hur- ricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, structural fires, electrical outages, bomb threats, security breaches, and active shooter incidents. The approach in ACRP Report 112 can be used for recovery planning for the entire airport, not just terminals. A comprehensive TIRP plan addresses the following areas: â¢ Care of stranded passengers during recovery, as airlines may be overwhelmed; â¢ Specific recovery plans for terminals, both airside and landside, including people movers and utility services; â¢ Repopulation as a specific recovery activity that is typically very different from evacuation or sheltering-in-place; and â¢ Information technologies systems restart issues and procedures. It is generally recognized that effective emergency plans must be tested, tried out, and revised regularly. Past emergency event scenarios can provide effective training and exercise topics. Most airports surveyed hold regularly scheduled TTXs, and many do extra TTXs to test changed plans, procedures, or new mutual aid relationships. Plan continuity between agencies and businesses expedites efficient and effective recovery. Airports identified a need to test plans for consistency with other agencies having overlapping jurisdictions. Each federal agency has its own plans which could be shared, revised, and blended to ensure consistency during each of the four phases of ICS. To maintain preparedness, airports are advised to anticipate the demands and expectations of outside groups and individuals such as the FAA, the TSA, the airportâs Certification Inspector and Federal Security Director, as well as Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies. Airline and tenant recovery plans must also match the airportâs plan. Annual disaster briefings provide a venue for airlines and tenants to evaluate and share plans for consistency with the airportâs recovery plan. Regular trainings with stakeholder groups and other agencies also provide a venue to coordinate and collaborate on specific plans. Airports realize the importance of multi-dimensional plans that help them anticipate the unavail- ability of one or more identified support providers; effective plans are built in overlapping layers. Such multi-dimensional recovery plans are linked to the airportsâ core capabilities and mobilization of resources.
47 EVALUATING AND MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF RECOVERY PLANS AND ACTIONS Assessment metrics are defined as a set of prescribed measurements used to determine successful perfor- mance and/or establish benchmarks with relation to other airports. Reliable data are essential to effective metrics, but in the often chaotic context of emergency response and recovery, it can be challenging to obtain them, much less compare them over time or to another organization. ACRP Report 19A (Hazel et al. 2011) describes 23 functional areas (e.g., ARFF and risk management) that can be assessed using airport performance indicators. Five performance indicators are used to track staffing levels, costs, and response times. In the ARFF area, quantitative indicators are based on financial issues, and do not nec- essarily assess the airportâs performance in responding to the incident. The ACRP report identifies two safety/risk management metrics, but they pertain to employee accidents and runway incursions, both unlikely to be major factors in recovery operations. An emerging tool that has the potential to facilitate the evaluation of recovery efforts as well as response is software that collates and displays a COP. Such a system can give at-a-glance aware- ness to ICs and UCs as well as to senior policy groups, multi-agency coordination centers, and JICs. Systems that generate and store COPs are invaluable tools for AARs, and many of the interviewed airports urged their expanded use. The lack of performance metrics and assessment methods appears to result from the difficulty in determining, rating, and ranking an airportâs performance with respect to a large-scale emergency response and recovery. Airports in this study develop strong after-action reports, but those reports are largely qualitative and narrative in nature and are primarily used to develop lessons learned in the field for incorporation into updated plans and future training exercises. While identifying lessons learned is an important aspect of continuous improvement, they can very easily be idiosyncratic and particular to the airport, and may not be applicable to all airports. Surveyed airports suggested that the main metric for the effectiveness of a recovery was duration; that is, a speedy recovery is a successful recovery. This oversimplifies and even undermines a more balanced assessment of âsuccess.â None of the airports reported using metrics for preparedness. Each incident is affected by unique factors (e.g., Newark Libertyâs challenges with pumps and utility companies), and many factors that influence recovery phase are outside airport control, such as social media activity. Further study is needed to determine exactly how to quantify and report on airport recovery efforts using generally accepted performance measures. EXISTING ISSUES Architecture of Unified Command at Airports Each airport interviewed indicated that it would benefit from a UC and an EOC. There is a related awareness that post-emergency response and recovery would be facilitated by the involvement of airport administration, operation, maintenance, and other specialized personnel, as well as key mutual aid partners and utility companies, in the airport EOC and ICS structure. Consequently, airports would be prudent to consider inviting a wide range of players to participate in planning, training, drilling, and exercising for the execution of the EOC. Until FAA Advisory Circular 150/5200-31C required AEPs to incorporate all elements of NIMS and ICS, including the training and mutual aid aspects, most airports paid relatively little attention to the mechanics of NIMS and ICS implementation. At many of the airports surveyed, understand- ing and applying the concept of the UCâthat is, command and control through a committeeâ continues to be a work in progress. Airports where police, ARFF, and airport operations staff work closely together on a regular or day-to-day basis appear to have a much better understanding of NIMS and ICS. However, a UC is not a typical command structure for police and fire response on the streets, and therefore tends not to be applied in the early response phases at airports, where the IC roles are
48 generally organized around police or ARFF. These types of airports typically conduct emergency response using the same narrow ICS structure with little or no support other than that provided from the core first responder agencies of police, fire, and airport operations. Consequently, UCs are very rarely employed for response and recovery and are used at only a few of the airports surveyed. Since the final extended deadline for approval of NIMS-compliant AEPs in 2012, most of the 37 airports have been grappling with how to implement UCs. In the interviews, a majority of the airports indicated a lingering uncertainty about how to leverage the greatest effectiveness from applying the UC concept in an ICS and NIMS environment, especially during recovery. Even fewer airports understood how, under NIMS guidelines, the UC is expected to change size and composition to reflect fluctuating needs during evolution of the incident from response to recovery. Extent of Commitment to NIMS and ICS in Recovery The interviews revealed widespread general awareness of the importance of NIMS and ICS training; however, many airports still appear to lack a solid working knowledge of NIMS and ICS principles as they pertain to regulatory compliance and actual application in emergencies. All 37 airports appear fully committed to NIMS and ICS in the planning process for the response phase. Application of NIMS and ICS during planning for recovery is, however, far more uneven. Extent of Commitment to EOC in Recovery Many of the airports in the study do not have their own EOCs. This is true not only of most GA and reliever airports but also of many small and even medium-size Part 139 airports, which rely on their local law enforcement agencies. The airports without EOCs may use ICS without an EOC, or use their cityâs or countyâs EOC, or implement IC without any EOC. Airports with their own EOCs appear to have a much better understanding of the concept of UC. This may be true because the basic concept of an EOC is to provide support to the IC and the ICP as well as to manage overall impacts. This concept is the same within a multi-agency coordination center environment, where all agencies and experts involved support the IC in the development of a comprehensive IAP. For most of the incidents studied, the IC was a field command post. In a few cases where the event was either forecast or more airport-wide, the EOC served as the ICP. In even fewer cases, the IC function initiated in a field command post and was later transferred to the EOC during the recovery phase. This appeared to be the most effective strategy for recovery because these EOCs functioned as UC by including multiple agencies and area experts. Airports also found that having access to a back-up EOC is very important. The back-up can be a second site on-airport, an off-site facility belonging to a partner agency, or a mobile command post. Over half the airports reported having mobile command posts or access to ones. Training and practice using the back-up EOCs is essential. Integration of Mutual Aid and Other Partners in Airport EOC, NIMS, and ICS During Recovery Since airport recovery is typically a complex array of actions requiring expert coordination, it appears to be most effective to establish the UC in the airport EOC and organize the EOC following ICS structure. In cases where such UC/EOC structures were used, airports reported that involving critical lines of airport business into the recovery management process yielded positive outcomes, as it allowed their specific requirements and issues to be addressed and incorporated into the overall recovery plan or IAP. DFW calls this UC/EOC structure a âhybridâ EOC. In such cases, involvement of partners still falls within accepted NIMS principles. The area of ambiguity or interest to explore here is how smaller airports can most effectively establish EOCs or avail themselves of the advan- tages of having an EOC without having one at the airport.
49 Status of Comprehensive Crisis Communications Planning and Implementation While all certified airports meet the FAR Part 139 requirement, nearly all airports interviewed indi- cated that, in reviewing what went wrong and what went right during response and recovery, they found communications planning and implementation called for improvement. Many airports are in the process of developing CCCPs, and inquired if any were available. Several airports indicated they prefer their communications plans to stand apart from their AEP for the flexibility to incorporate the frequent rate of changes in theory, technology, social media, personnel, etc. Many airports also indicated they added public information/communications specialists to their staff to help develop and implement crisis communications plans as well as handle the avalanche of requests for information that follow emergencies. A few airports indicated they contracted services or called on their governance body for permanent assistance. The demand to increase communications capability during and after disasters was a major lesson learned in nearly every after-action review in this study. Metrics and Other Methods for Evaluating Recovery Plans and Procedures Assessment metrics determine whether recovery plans and procedures are effective in real-world practice, being used either to determine benchmarks internally or to facilitate external comparisons. They provide a feedback loop that drives continuous improvement. Most airports surveyed rely on AARs, typically written narratives generated collaboratively by the parties involved, possibly with consultants. A COP system that logs data can be used to develop metrics for recovery. None of the airports indicated that it used any sort of metric routinely, as in a conventional quanti- tative assessment. If indeed airports determine that they want and are required to quantitatively mea- sure the level of success of response and recovery, then a universally acceptable metric will have to be developed. As stakeholders discuss areas for improvement during an after-action report, it is easy to say that response and recovery efforts were sufficient or insufficient; however, currently no hard data exists that describes, defines, and measures optimal situations. Moreover, there is no generally accepted definition of âsuccess of recovery.â Performance measurement may include such processes as how long each group or department takes for recovery of their responsibilities. When all such measurements are assembled for each system that needs to be reactivated, this is the metric for overall recovery of the airport. Resource allocation and measure of success are different for different parts of the operation of an airport. Pend- ing the development of recovery metrics (see âSuggestions for Further Researchâ in chapter four), the development and sharing of clear and true information, including COPs, and pinpointing what is needed for the process may be sufficient for planning. INTRODUCTION TO THE LIST OF AIRPORT EMERGENCY POST-EVENT RECOVERY PRACTICES Findings from the airport interviews and case examples were described, analyzed, evaluated, and filtered for effectiveness, desirability, or both; then organized into eight categories. The primary test of effectiveness is efficacy, that is, âthis worked well;â and the primary test for desirability is the existence of current plans for improving preparedness as revealed in practice. Data collected were amassed from some of the most current airport emergencies ranging in scope from small and easily addressed to very large, all-encompassing, exhaustive events. Regardless of the magnitude of the incident or the size of the airport, every interviewee had useful points to share with the airport community. The list (Appendix A) is intended to provide a user-friendly âgrab-and-goâ type of document. It is not a rigid guide; rather, it provides a starting point that an airport can use to develop new recovery plans and procedures, evaluate existing plans and procedures, or guide a gap analysis of the airportâs preparedness in terms of its ability to recover well. For example, listed practices include large items such as relationship- building, being proactive rather than reactive, and always having a recovery plan to accompany each response plan; and detailed items such as providing psychological support for employees after an incident.