National Academies Press: OpenBook

A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response (2014)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - Decision Making and Partnerships

« Previous: Chapter 2 - How Prepared Is an Organization for a Pandemic?
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Decision Making and Partnerships." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22414.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Decision Making and Partnerships." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22414.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Decision Making and Partnerships." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22414.
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Page 20
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Decision Making and Partnerships." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22414.
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Page 21

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18 C H A P T E R 3 The oft repeated phrase, “It’s all about relationships” is never truer than during emergencies. Knowing the other organizations and their capabilities, resources, competencies, and limitations is key to working together effectively in a pandemic. Situational awareness and analysis are among the most difficult compo- nents to maximize in emergency management. Good decisions, appropriate actions, and accessing needed resources are tied to a firm understanding of what has occurred, what may happen, and what is being done to make the circumstances better (or worse). Information is not just collecting data; it is analyzing the data and concurrently sharing relevant organizational impacts, needs, and projections. Information sharing takes many forms, including formal and informal means of communication. Decision Making Along the continuum of any emergency, decisions must be made at many levels. As part of emergency planning, prior clarity regarding responsibility and authority to make decisions and commit resources will improve organizational effectiveness. In general, delegation of authority to the lowest appropriate level is preferred. In small urban and rural transportation systems, the persons charged with managing emer- gencies may be “wearing several other hats.” Further, decisions made within the organization may have far-reaching effects. Communication and coordination with local emergency management, public health, and other transportation organizations is imperative. Good decisions are made based on good information (situational awareness and analysis) and the development and implementation of objectives, strategies, and tactics that support organization and community goals. Using tested emergency management techniques and systems will aid leaders in decision making. Emergency management has evolved significantly in recent times, with much more consistency in organizational structure, nomenclature, communication, and coordination. Even with these advancements, response to an emergency is often less than ideal, especially when the hazard is as infrequent and inherently ill-defined as a disease outbreak. At the national level, the NIMS provides a comprehensive, nationwide approach to inci- dent management. This system includes components for preparedness, communications and information, resource management, command, and maintenance. Field responders, emergency managers, and medical response personnel typically use organizational structures and processes Decision Making and Partnerships This chapter discusses the importance of decision making and coordinating with like and allied organizations prior to, and during, an emergency. Exhibits in this Chapter 13 Decision Making and Partnership Planning Tool 14 Additional Resources for Developing Partnerships

Decision Making and Partnerships 19 based on the ICS, the field version of NIMS. For example, hospitals use the Hospital ICS. (See details from the California Emergency Medical Services Authority at: http://emsa.technicate. com/disaster_medical_services_division_hospital_incident_command_system_hics). Disrupting the normal routine—even when policy is in place—requires a great deal of planning to ensure people know what to do, understand what is going on, and have the tools required for the job. The NIMS/ICS are used for response and as helpful tools for organizing how preparedness, inter-agency coordination, and decision making will take place. A decision-making planning tool (see Exhibit 13) has been included in Chapter 7 to help organize planning challenges using the ICS. This tool helps identify what needs to be addressed in plans, procedures, inventory, and infrastructure to implement the policy when the time comes. This matrix uses the five functions of incident command as a foundation for brainstorming and is not all-inclusive. Working with Partners No organization functions in a vacuum. Each entity is interdependent and even more so during an emergency. The time to establish relationships with allied organizations is well before an event occurs. Transportation organizations are part of an overall community and will likely play a key role in pandemic response. To be an effective partner, a transportation agency should: • Communicate the transportation organization’s capabilities and resources to local emergency management and public health agencies; • Convey the transportation organization’s needs to response agencies; and • Understand how inter-agency communication will work in a pandemic to ensure effective information exchange, coordination, and decision making. Partners in a pandemic response can include: • Other transportation and transit organizations (e.g., regional and state transportation agen- cies and authorities; similar and complementary services; and transportation providers in contiguous areas); Exhibit 13. Decision making and partnership planning tool. This tool is included on page 44 of Chapter 7. Purpose: Assist transportation organizations in breaking down decision making and inter-agency partner issues. Directions: Use this planning tool to determine how specific planning issues translate to a response using the ICS.

20 A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response • Local public service agencies; • Emergency management; • Public health; • Suppliers and vendors; and • End users (e.g., clients, rider advisory groups, and labor organizations). Being an active participant in community pandemic planning will enhance the transportation organization’s ability to function and support community response efforts. Transportation organizations can be active in pandemic planning by: • Becoming familiar with forums, such as the LEPC and emergency councils, regional transportation associations, and public health emergency committees to better under- stand how pandemic response will be managed and how to effectively work with partnering entities. • Participating in or initiating community exercises of all types, including internal training, drills, and exercises. • Forming agreements in advance of a pandemic, such as mutual aid agreements, memoranda of understanding/agreement, and service contracts, to facilitate efficient use of personnel and equipment. • Establishing personal relationships with key players across the decision-making and response spectrum. Exhibit 14 describes additional resources for information on developing partnerships. Emergency Operations Center State and local emergency management organizations are usually organized around an emergency operations center (EOC). It is important for transportation organizations to under- stand the EOC structure and be prepared to communicate with emergency managers within the EOC framework. A public transit agency may want to establish a department operations center (DOC), which is often a subunit of a jurisdiction’s EOC. Smaller organizations might adapt their dispatch centers into a smaller-scale version of a DOC to coordinate with emergency management, public health, and other response agencies. Communication with Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit TCRP Report 150: Communication with Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit provides a complete process for developing partnerships with other agencies and organizations for the purposes of emergency planning and response. Access the document online at: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/tcrp/tcrp_rpt_150.pdf Exhibit 14. Additional resources for developing partnerships.

Decision Making and Partnerships 21 Information Exchange Communication refers to: • The physical ability to convey and exchange information (e.g., voice, data, electronic com- munications) within an organization and to entities outside of the organization; and • The actual exchange of information. Transportation organizations that are part of a local emergency management system should review their communications capabilities and equipment (telephone, e-mail, satellite phone, dynamic message signs) as part of the pandemic planning process. This information should be shared with other response agencies, such as emergency management and public health. Exchanging comprehensive, timely, and relevant information has benefits for the organization and the overall emergency management system. Transportation organizations should: • Develop strategies to receive emergency management and public health information such as situation reports and health alerts. • Be prepared to share emergency management and public health information, as appropriate. Such information would be shared with staff for planning and response purposes. Information would be shared with customers to further explain steps the transportation agency may plan to take in response to the pandemic. • Be prepared to communicate information to emergency management and public health agencies. Such information may include: levels of ridership, absenteeism, readiness, personnel and needs for equipment and supplies for response operations, and anticipated changes in service. Role of Policy Makers The capabilities, capacities, and robustness of an organization’s emergency management program is determined, in large part, by executive support. A real demonstrable, long-term, substantive commitment of executive support helps to establish emergency management within and outside of the organization. Making provisions and resources available for planning, training, and exercising leads to competencies within the organization. The decision makers must be competent themselves. This includes participating in training and exercising; and understanding where, when, and how decisions are made in solving problems and modifying policies during an emergency. Organization members look to their leaders for decisions, support, and morale, especially during times of crisis. Organizations with full executive support are invariably better prepared for emergencies than those where emergency management has diminished standing and resources. For example, contrast the anticipated outcomes from (1) a seasoned, trained, and exercised leader who maintains good situational awareness and (a) knows when and how to activate the emergency plan, (b) knows how to open the DOC at an appropriate moment, and (c) knows when to escalate the level of response along the event timeline with (2) an organization where the leadership is untrained and has not addressed the necessary components of an effective emergency management structure.

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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 769: A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response is designed to assist transportation organizations as they prepare for pandemics and other infectious diseases such as seasonal flu.

Addressing decision-making challenges in pandemic response in the transportation context is a multi-dimensional task, involving not only transportation/transit organizations, but health organizations, emergency management agencies, and communications outlets as well.

The guide is designed to outline broad guidance on dealing with pandemic preparedness planning, not detailed procedures. It provides information, tools, tips, and guidance on where to find up-to-date recommendations from federal agencies and other resources, prior to and during a pandemic.

In addition to the guide, a methodology report and a PowerPoint presentation describing the entire project are available online.

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