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Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook (2013)

Chapter: Chapter 5 - Response

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Response." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22669.
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59 C h a p t e r 5 Paratransit preparedness plans are put into action during the response phase of reacting to emergencies. Actions are taken to provide life-sustaining support, prevent loss of life or fur- ther injuries, stabilize and control the situation, treat and transport the injured, address other basic humanitarian needs, and prevent further property or environmental damage. Paratransit serves a role in responding to smaller-scale emergencies primarily by focusing on meeting the needs of its own customer base. In a larger-scale emergency, paratransit can serve a supporting role in emergency response by working with emergency management within the ICS. Planning and training for the following response levels will help facilitate effective paratransit resource utilization: ▪▪ Level 4, Routine Response: An event requiring a single department utilizing on-duty resources. Direction and control is provided by the single resource with normal administrative over- sight. On-duty paratransit staff usually can handle this type of response without additional resources. ▪▪ Level 3, Limited Response: An emergency that requires multiple first-responder resources. EOC staff may be placed on standby if the situation worsens. Off-duty or on-call paratransit resources may be needed to support the response and sustain or restore normal operations. Paratransit management is notified and involved in administrative oversight. ▪▪ Level 2, Full Emergency: Many or all first-responder resources are deployed. Logistic and administrative support is provided by the EOC. Additional support from outside mutual aid agencies may be required. This type of event forces the alteration or suspension of regular paratransit service. Paratransit senior management and additional support staff are mobilized. ▪▪ Level 1, Disaster Response: A disaster of regional or national significance. Direction and control is consolidated into a single ICS organization. All resources are focused on disaster response and recovery. All first-responder resources are fully deployed. Outside assistance and augmentation of emergency units by non-emergency personnel may be required. The EOC directs the use of response resources to the best advantage. On-site assistance from state and federal agencies is expected. Most or all of regular paratransit service is cancelled. Paratransit management may send an agency representative to the EOC to work within the transportation emergency support function and respond to mission requests. 5.A Communication 5.A.1 Interoperability In the field of emergency management, the term interoperability is typically used to describe radio communication systems that enable responders to communicate with each other. Ideally, all agencies responding to an emergency would use an interoperable radio system to share information Response

60 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook and service requests. Thus, paratransit would have its own designated channel for internal commu- nications with the ability to switch to other channels to communicate with the Incident Command Post (ICP), the EOC, or responders from other agencies to support effective response and to ensure the safety of paratransit drivers, paratransit passengers, and other responding agencies. In the absence of interoperability, paratransit agencies must relay information from the ICP or EOC to paratransit dispatch and then to or from the paratransit driver. This type of communica- tion relay introduces opportunities for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. If communica- tion systems fail, paratransit drivers are left to make critical decisions on their own with limited guidance or overall situational awareness. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radio “narrowbanding” mandate affects operators of radios that use channels in the following ranges: ▪▪ VHF (150–174 MHz) ▪▪ UHF (421–512 MHz) These new FCC rules affect all licenses held under Part 90 Business, Educational, Industrial, Public Safety, and State and Local Government VHF (150–174 MHz) and UHF (421–512 MHz) private land mobile radio (PLMR). The FCC now requires that all existing Part 90 radio systems operating in the VHF (150–174 MHz) and UHF (421–512 MHz) bands must convert those sys- tems either to a maximum bandwidth of 12.5 kHz or to a technology that provides at least one voice path per 12.5 kHz of bandwidth or equivalent efficiency. This includes (but is not limited to) radio users in the following groups: ▪▪ State and local public safety systems ▪▪ Transit operators ▪▪ Paratransit operators ▪▪ School buses ▪▪ Taxicabs and limousines Affected equipment includes all conventional and trunked VHF and UHF two-way handheld portable radios, vehicle-mounted radios, dispatcher stations, wireless data, telemetry, or SCADA links (called subscriber radios), and any associated conventional base or trunked repeaters or relay stations (called infrastructure radios). This ensures more efficient use of the radio spec- trum, creating additional channel capacity to support a greater number of users. The advent of narrowbanding has resulted in many transit and paratransit agencies upgrading to radio systems that are interoperable with emergency management and first responders. Considerations ▪▪ A lack of interoperability between paratransit, transit, school bus transportation, emergency management, and first responders creates operational challenges for emergency response in both urban/suburban and rural/tribal settings. ▪▪ Breakdowns in communication due to interoperability hamper response efforts for both advance-notice events and no-notice emergencies. ▪▪ In urban areas where emergency response systems are more complex and deployed resources must communicate and coordinate in real time, interoperability is more common. Frequently, however, transit and paratransit agencies do not have interoperable capabilities. Furthermore, in cases where transit or paratransit are indeed part of the interoperable communications system, contracted paratransit operations may not be. ▪▪ Some rural/tribal paratransit systems use cell phones as the primary means of communica- tion between drivers and dispatch. The Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), a White House-directed emergency phone service provided by the National Com- munications System (NCS), is also available to support federal, state, local, and tribal govern-

response 61 ment, industry, and non-governmental organization personnel. GETS provides emergency access and priority processing in the local and long-distance segments of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). It is intended to be used in an emergency or crisis situation when the PSTN is congested and the probability of completing a call over normal or other alterna- tive telecommunication means has significantly decreased. Additional information on GETS is available at http://gets.ncs.gov/program_info.html. Effective Practices ▪▪ Some paratransit systems use two-way radios as the primary mode of communication, with either company or personal cell phones as backup. This creates redundancy in the commu- nication system. ▪▪ Communication with deployed paratransit assets can be enhanced when a paratransit super- visor with a handheld radio is on the ground at the staging area for face-to-face communica- tion with paratransit drivers. ▪▪ Text messaging through cell phones has often proven to be an effective communication method between paratransit management and deployed paratransit drivers during emergency response activities. ▪▪ Interoperability issues are sometimes mitigated by providing interoperable handheld radios to key transportation personnel working in the EOC or ICP. This provision can circumvent the need to relay all information through paratransit dispatch, improving response times and situational awareness. ▪▪ Some paratransit agencies have worked with local emergency management and communica- tions departments to identify and resolve interoperability challenges and, in some cases, have successfully funded paratransit radio system upgrades using DHS grant resources. Strategy ▪▪ If your agency does not have an interoperable radio system enabling direct communication with other transportation providers and incident managers during emergency response, plans for alternative communication methods need to be made with emergency management. Pro- actively address this issue to ensure effective use of transportation resources and enhance the safety of your drivers, passengers, and other personnel in the emergency response zone. Tool: Interoperability ❑ Ensure that paratransit radio systems are compliant with the FCC narrowband- ing requirements. ❑ Identify the communication systems that will be needed to support each para- transit essential function. Give consideration to the various links that need to be established such as communications with internal departments, field per- sonnel, outside agencies, law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medi- cal response, and emergency management. ❑ Determine whether the existing paratransit radio system can operate on a common channel with IC and first responders. ❑ If paratransit does not have radio interoperability, initiate discussions with emergency management on effective alternatives for timely communication between IC and deployed transportation resources. ❑ Explore alternative strategies to radio interoperability, for example: – Plan for a paratransit representative to be assigned to the EOC or the ICP with a handheld radio that allows for direct communication between the agency representative and deployed paratransit resources.

62 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook Resource for Urban/Suburban Areas ▪▪ Developing Multi-Agency Interoperability Communications Systems http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=3898 This Office for Domestic Preparedness handbook was developed to address interoperability and intended to enhance communications among the numerous agencies who would respond to large-scale incidents or emergencies. Resources for Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Beyond Radio: Redefining Interoperability to Enhance Public Safety http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4177 This white paper from CISCO Systems, Inc. examines the challenges of communications interoperability for day-to-day operations as well as emergency response and explains how sending radio communications over an IP network addresses the challenges. ▪▪ Local Radio Interoperability Solved with High-Tech Trailers http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4178 This March 2011 article from the emergencymgmt.com website describes the trailer designed to unify the different radio bands used by emergency management and emergency responder agencies. The trailer, called Communications-on-Wheels (COW), patches together radio systems of different frequencies. ▪▪ Joint Council on Transit Wireless Communications http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4342 The Joint Council on Transit Wireless Communications was established in 2009 in response to the results of TCRP Project C-18, “Strategic Plan for Meeting Transit Industry Wireless Communications Needs.” Under the project, a strategic plan for transit industry wireless communications was developed through a collaborative effort with APTA, CTAA, and other industry representatives. One of the transit industry goals identified in the resulting strategic plan is the creation of a joint council to implement the strategic plan. The Joint Council, which was initially funded through TCRP and NCHRP, works to capture all aspects of the passenger transportation industry. Because the wireless communications needs of the more traditional “transit” industry substantially overlap with the needs of other passenger transportation ser- vice providers, the Joint Council provides a place to address these shared interests and to engage crucial partner organizations including FTA, DHS, FCC, TRB, and TCRP. To meet the wireless communications goals of the transit industry, it will be important to maintain an ongoing exchange with these partner organizations. – Ask emergency management to provide handheld radios for drivers of para- transit vehicles deployed in disaster response. This allows for direct commu- nication between paratransit resources, the EOC, and first responders. – Establish or become part of a transportation DOC in order to facilitate emer- gency response activities using the optimal transportation resource. – Identify other alternative strategies that enhance effective and timely com- munication between emergency management, first responders, paratransit dispatch, and deployed paratransit resources. ❑ Formalize a plan for communication between paratransit and all key stake- holders during an emergency community response, whether that plan is based on interoperability or an established alternative communication methodology. ❑ Train all paratransit managers, supervisors, dispatchers, drivers, and other appropriate staff on the communication plan.

response 63 ▪▪ Government Emergency Telecommunications System (GETS) http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4154 The DHS NCS website explains the GETS for priority voice and data transmission lines. 5.A.2 Emergency Communications When an emergency occurs, paratransit managers must evaluate the situation and determine if service can continue as scheduled or if service must be adjusted, suspended, or shut down altogether. Providing timely and accurate advisories about service continuity, disruptions, or cancellations is crucial. When suspending or altering service, paratransit must notify customers as well as caregivers, medical providers, and resident facilities so arrangements can be made for continuity of care. This information may be conveyed via telephone, texts, email, agency web- sites, and through traditional and social media outlets as dictated by local agency preferences and protocols. To ensure consistency and accuracy of information, this responsibility often falls to a single paratransit point of contact and this person formally or informally serves as the paratran- sit Public Information Officer (PIO). Considerations ▪▪ In rural/tribal areas, broadcast radio serves as an accessible, timely, and trusted source of information. ▪▪ In urban/suburban areas, media tends to be more fragmented, making communications deliv- ered through the media more complicated. ▪▪ Use of social media and email tends to be more prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas. ▪▪ With advance notice, paratransit providers are able to stop taking reservations, cancel non- essential rides, and scale back or suspend service before disaster strikes. This also makes service continuity notification concerns less challenging. ▪▪ No-notice emergencies require pre-planning and creative responses on the part of paratransit providers, social service agencies, care providers, and emergency management in order to transport and care for passengers with access and functional needs. ▪▪ Protocols for documenting passenger pickup and dropoff locations will help with future scheduling and assist in determining passenger location. Procedures for locating missing per- sons, such as contacting the Red Cross, should also be considered. ▪▪ Given the limits on available transportation resources during emergencies, requesting that customers volunteer to cancel their non-life-sustaining appointments will help reduce the use of transit assets without violating ADA requirements. Effective Practices ▪▪ Some paratransit agencies have invested in mass notification systems that can call selected cus- tomers with pre-recorded messages about service and service continuity. However, it is more common for agencies to notify customers by making individual telephone calls. Paratransit providers may notify medical providers, resident care centers, and other partner agencies in a similar manner. ▪▪ Paratransit agencies often rely on local radio and television stations to announce service advi- sories. Public meetings held at accessible locations can also support dissemination of infor- mation. These announcements can be filmed on-site and broadcast on local public access channels in a similar fashion to the broadcast of city council meetings. These announcements should also be captioned. ▪▪ Print media are additional communication resources, though print media may be less timely than social and broadcast media. A majority of news outlets now also post to websites. ▪▪ Social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, are emerging as effective communication tools. It should be noted, however, that people with access and functional needs use Internet-based media at disproportionately low levels.

64 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook Strategy ▪▪ Work out methods in advance for communicating timely and accurate information to para- transit customers and partner agencies about service disruptions, shutdowns, and subsequent service startup and include these methods in your EOP. Partner agencies may include primary caregivers, medical providers, and resident care centers. When formulating your communi- cation strategies, take into account the needs of people with sight and hearing impairment, cognitive disabilities, and limited English proficiency. ▪▪ Identify a single point of contact responsible for communicating service continuity informa- tion; based on your agency’s size and organizational structure, this may be the PIO or other appropriate staff member. The information to convey may include details regarding service sus- pension and resumption plans; the alternative transportation services available; and, in commu- nity emergencies, details about evacuation orders, shelter facilities, and reentry considerations. Tool: Emergency Communications Strategies for communicating service continuity information with customers and key stakeholders during emergencies include: ❑ Phone calls to customers scheduled for a ride within the anticipated service suspension period. ❑ Phone calls to service providers to discuss dropoff locations for paratransit cus- tomers currently at their facility or en route to their facility. ❑ Automated alert notification systems that send phone calls, texts, emails, or other electronic messages. ❑ For customers calling in, pre-recorded service alert messages, as well as infor- mation updates available as a keypad menu option or given while waiting to speak to a customer service agent. ❑ Updates and service alerts posted on the agency website. ❑ Posts to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media networks. ❑ News releases, scheduled briefings, or other notifications to TV, radio, and print media. ❑ Service alerts, news releases, and related communications should be available in large print for people with visual impairments and in essential secondary languages for people with limited English proficiency. ❑ When hosting news briefings, consider having a sign language interpreter next to the speaker and work with cameramen to include the signer in the frame. ❑ Work with television stations to have the news anchor’s voice information provided on news crawls and other information displayed on the screen. Resource for Urban/Suburban and Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Providing a Mobile Solution for Emergency Public Information http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4179 This December 2011 article from the emergencymgmt.com website discusses Houston’s Office of Emergency Management website that is optimized for mobile devices such as smart- phones and tablets to get timely emergency information to residents wherever they may be. Resources for Urban/Suburban Areas ▪▪ Emergency Service Plan for Winter Weather and Other Emergency Conditions http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4214 This emergency service plan includes procedures for winter weather operations, traffic jams caused by accidents, hazardous materials spills, and miscellaneous events.

response 65 ▪▪ Communication Systems Supporting Essential Functions Worksheet http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4151 Complete one of these worksheets from TCRP Report 86/NCHRP Report 525, Volume 8: Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning Guidelines for Transportation Agencies for each essential function. This worksheet is for listing the current vendor of each communication system and its contact information, the services the vendor is currently providing the agency, any special emergency contact information, and any special emergency services the vendor has to offer. ▪▪ Government Emergency Telecommunications System (GETS) http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4154 The DHS NCS website explains the GETS for priority voice and data transmission lines. Resources for Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Computer Security Breach/System Failure Emergency Procedures http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4096 This is an emergency checklist for dealing with a computer system failure or security breach. ▪▪ Handling the Media During a Crisis http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=3853 This January 2008 Kansas Trans Reporter newsletter article provides tips on how to interact with the media in a transit emergency. 5.B Coordination 5.B.1 Emergency Operations Center An EOC is the physical location where representatives from responding agencies come together during an emergency to coordinate response and recovery actions and resources. EOCs may alternatively be called command centers, situation rooms, war rooms, crisis management centers, or other similar terms. The EOC is not an ICP where tactical decisions are made and resources deployed to support the incident objectives; rather, the EOC is where the incident objectives are established and strategic decisions are made about resource allocation. A local, county, or regional EOC oversees, supports, and provides resources to all the ICPs and the responders working under their respective commands during emergency operations. The EOC can optimize communication and coordination by effective information management and presentation. Paratransit providers with an established role at the EOC provide emergency managers and staff with perspective on the needs of paratransit customers, coordinate paratransit resources to support emergency transportation requests, and disseminate information to paratransit cus- tomers. Unfortunately, many paratransit agencies do not have a formal role at the EOC and therefore have limited ability to provide input to emergency management on the transportation needs of their customers. Considerations ▪▪ Transportation and emergency management should work together to establish a transporta- tion strategy that meets emergency response needs and transportation operational require- ments. Often, fixed-route transit assets and school buses are utilized to evacuate people from affected high-density areas, while paratransit assets may be assigned to narrow streets or more isolated neighborhoods not suited for larger buses or to meet the emergency transportation needs of its own customers. ▪▪ In urban/suburban areas, larger transit systems often have a seat in the EOC, presumably rep- resenting paratransit. In rural/tribal areas, it is uncommon for paratransit to have a formally

66 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook assigned role at the EOC. Problems can arise when there is insufficient communication and coordination between transit, paratransit, and emergency management. ▪▪ In rural/tribal areas, school buses are often the primary resource for evacuating people. Para- transit vehicles are likely to be used to evacuate paratransit customers and/or people with access and functional needs. Lack of coordination can lead to duplication of efforts or gaps in response. ▪▪ In an advance-notice disaster, paratransit can help emergency management by identifying individuals most likely to need evacuation assistance. Emergency paratransit services are often limited to life-sustaining trips for their own customers. Paratransit resources can be mobilized to support emergency response missions that focus on those with access and functional needs. ▪▪ In no-notice emergencies when the EOC is activated, emergency management may not con- sider the need for paratransit input if prior planning has not occurred. Effective Practices ▪▪ One effective practice to facilitate coordination is for paratransit to send an agency representa- tive to the EOC during emergencies to interact directly with other transportation representa- tives as dictated by local plans and policies. ▪▪ Another common practice is for paratransit to join other transportation providers working together under unified command to address emergency transportation needs in a transpor- tation-specific operations center located away from the EOC but operating in close coordina- tion with the EOC. ▪▪ In some locales, emergency managers establish an advisor within the EOC to assist with issues related to people with access and functional needs. This role is sometimes tasked to the para- transit representative due to his or her experience working with customers with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. Strategy ▪▪ As a paratransit provider, you may or may not have an established role in the EOC. If emer- gency management has designated a role for your agency, a representative from your agency would typically work with other transportation agencies and law enforcement within the EOC. The paratransit representative must be properly trained and have the authority to effec- tively carry out his or her responsibilities within the NIMS and IC structure. Tool: Emergency Operations Center ❑ Initiate discussions with emergency management regarding the role it expects your agency to perform within the disaster response structure and whether you are to provide a representative to sit in the EOC. ❑ If a representative from your agency is assigned to the EOC, determine pre- cisely what that person’s responsibilities will be. ❑ Your representative to the EOC should be NIMS certified, extremely knowl- edgeable about paratransit operations, capable of thinking outside the box, and aware of the communication protocols used for dispatching paratransit resources. ❑ If your agency is not asked to provide a representative, discuss with emer- gency management alternative strategies for mission tasking of paratransit resources needed for community emergency response.

response 67 Resources for Urban/Suburban and Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Emergency Operations Center Guide http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4173 This document from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management describes in detail the purpose and function of an EOC. ▪▪ NCHRP Report 525: Surface Transportation Security, Volume 10: A Guide to Transpor- tation’s Role in Public Health Disasters and Tracking Emergency Response Effects on Transportation (TERET) http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4343 http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/157390.aspx This report examines development of transportation response options to an extreme event involving chemical, biological, or radiological agents. The report also includes a spreadsheet tool, called “TERET,” that is designed to assist transportation managers with recognition of mass-care transportation needs and identification and mitigation of potential transportation- related criticalities in essential services during extreme events. ▪▪ NCHRP Report 525: Surface Transportation Security, Volume 16: A Guide to Emergency Response Planning at State Transportation Agencies http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4344 http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/164691.aspx This report is designed to help executive management and emergency response planners at state transportation agencies as they and their local and regional counterparts assess their respective emergency response plans and identify areas needing improvement. 5.B.2 Departmental Emergency Operations Center While not every emergency is significant enough to activate a local EOC, any number of sce- narios may require interagency coordination of transportation resources. For this reason, some communities establish a DOC to coordinate some combination of public transit, human service transportation, student transportation, and paratransit services. In practical terms, the agency with the most robust facility is the best host for a DOC. Each participating transportation agency sends a representative and support staff to the DOC, as may be required, and according to a predetermined plan. Paratransit will co-locate with other trans- portation providers to fulfill transportation requests under the agreed-upon command structure. By co-locating and establishing common transportation objectives and strategies, a DOC helps improve communication, coordination, and cooperation among the transportation pro- viders in a given locality. Activating the DOC normally occurs once the EOC has been activated. Once activated, the DOC is able to coordinate with the local or county EOC by assigning a rep- resentative to the EOC. Considerations ▪▪ Larger transit authorities in urban/suburban settings have a dispatch or operations control center to serve fixed-route operations. The paratransit call and dispatch center typically oper- ates independently from the fixed-route transit dispatch or operations control center. ▪▪ In rural/tribal settings, it is more common for fixed-route transit and paratransit operations to be co-located and for the paratransit ride scheduling and dispatching functions to be per- formed by the same people. Often, small transit systems only operate paratransit services in the form of general public demand response. ▪▪ Advance-notice events may provide the impetus to activate a transportation DOC to better manage transportation issues. However, to meet the emergency transportation needs of its own customers, paratransit may provide emergency transportation services outside of the DOC.

68 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook ▪▪ In no-notice events, the magnitude of the emergency will dictate whether there is a need to activate a DOC. Paratransit providers may operate through the DOC, or on their own, to meet the emergency transportation needs of their customers. ▪▪ Due to various constraints, such as EOC location, member size, and member capacity, a large transit agency in the region may be selected as the transportation representative at the EOC. This agency can then communicate from the EOC to other transportation entities that are located at the DOC, including paratransit agencies. Effective Practices ▪▪ In communities that activate a DOC, school buses are typically used to transport ambula- tory evacuees; fixed-route transit vehicles are used for both ambulatory and non-ambulatory evacuees. Paratransit vehicles are used in areas where it is difficult to send a full-sized transit coach or based on the specific needs of individuals being evacuated. ▪▪ Comprehensive DOC plans include contingencies for relocating vehicles, drivers, and other transportation assets from partner agencies, in whole or in part, to the DOC facility. ▪▪ Often, paratransit provides emergency transportation for its customers, acting as its own DOC, and may or may not coordinate directly with the local or county EOC. ▪▪ Paratransit agencies that have a formal plan to staff a transportation DOC and formal thresh- olds to activate it are generally able to mobilize transportation resources more quickly and to coordinate more effectively with partner agencies. Strategy ▪▪ The best strategy for managing transportation resources during an emergency response may be through a DOC. To maximize limited resources, a transportation DOC will often coordi- nate the emergency response activities of paratransit, public transit, school district transporta- tion, and other transportation resources. Depending upon the nature of the emergency, your paratransit agency may be the sole participant, the lead participant, or a supporting player as part of a group of transportation providers working out of a single coordination and dispatch facility. Your agency should initiate discussions with emergency management and other trans- portation providers in the region as to when a DOC might be established, how a DOC would function in coordination with the EOC, and the role your paratransit agency would play. Tool: Departmental Emergency Operations Center ❑ Hold meetings with other area transportation providers and emergency man- agement to discuss the use of a transportation DOC to coordinate emergency response activities. ❑ If a DOC is to be established, ascertain which community transportation pro- viders are to be included. Participating agencies could include paratransit providers, public transit, school transportation, human services transportation, and private transportation providers. ❑ Identify a host facility for a transportation DOC. This facility should be at low risk for disaster impacts and have the ability to house a command and control communication system, dispatch system, and agency representatives from all participating transportation providers. ❑ Identify the thresholds that will cause activation of the DOC and develop plans for relocating vehicles, drivers, and other essential transportation assets from paratransit and partner agencies to the DOC facility and/or staging areas. ❑ Develop clear roles and responsibilities for DOC-based resources.

response 69 Resource for Urban/Suburban and Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Information Sharing Guidebook for Transportation Management Centers, Emergency Operations Centers, and Fusion Centers http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4174 This site provides an overview of the mission and functions of transportation management centers, EOCs, and fusion centers. It focuses on the types of information these centers produce and manage and how the sharing of such information among the centers can be beneficial to both the day-to-day and emergency operations of all the centers. Challenges exist regarding the ability to share information, and the guidebook addresses these challenges and options for handling them. 5.B.3 Staging and Pre-positioning Staging transportation resources close enough to the potential disaster impact zone for rapid response while keeping those vehicles out of harm’s way can be a challenge. Paratransit manage- ment, working on its own or with emergency/incident management, needs to identify staging locations that complement transportation resource needs and emergency response objectives. Additionally, paratransit management may want to consider identifying safe locations for para- transit vehicles to congregate and await further instructions if the vehicles cannot get back to base. These locations can also be a temporary safe haven for paratransit vehicles with passengers onboard until shelter locations for passenger dropoff have been further determined. Coordina- tion, cooperation, and negotiation may be needed to gain access to safe, secure, and strategically located staging locations. In addition, paratransit vehicles should be fueled and prepared for effective mobilization in an emergency. Routinely preparing transit vehicles at the end of each service day can enhance paratransit emergency response capabilities if an emergency occurs during non- service hours. Considerations ▪▪ Paratransit providers, in both urban/suburban and rural/tribal areas, often have not worked— either on their own or with emergency management—to identify locations where paratransit resources can be staged or pre-positioned prior to emergency deployment. ▪▪ Many urban/suburban paratransit providers have procedures to fuel and prepare vehicles at the end of each service day or overnight. ▪▪ Rural/tribal paratransit agencies’ procedures for fueling and preparing vehicles vary. Most fuel and prepare vehicles at the end of the service day; others fuel and prepare at the beginning of the day. ▪▪ Unlike no-notice emergencies, advance-notice emergencies provide the opportunity to stage and pre-position paratransit resources. Effective Practices ▪▪ Many paratransit systems fuel and prepare vehicles on pull-in at the end of the day. This procedure maximizes the number of vehicles ready for service at any time, thereby reducing vulnerability to a variety of emergency scenarios. ▪▪ Some paratransit systems have contingency plans to park vehicles in lower-risk locations when disaster risks are elevated. ▪▪ Pre-identifying staging locations based on known hazards and threats can expedite paratransit emergency response capabilities. ▪▪ Some jurisdictions found it helpful to stage all transportation resources out of the most robust transit facility in an area and to use that facility for the transportation DOC.

70 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook Strategy ▪▪ Fleet readiness, including pre-fueling vehicles, can greatly enhance timely response to emer- gencies. When planning for reacting to local emergencies, your agency may determine on its own whether there is a need to stage or pre-position equipment. In the case of community emergency response, emergency management will provide information and direction on staging locations. Tool: Staging and Pre-positioning ❑ Develop and enforce a policy for fueling and preparing paratransit vehicles at the end of each service day to ensure the maximum number of vehicles are ready to be put into service at any time, whether in normal or emergency operations. ❑ Assess the vulnerability of existing transit facilities and vehicle storage areas to likely safety hazards and security threats. ❑ Validate your vulnerability assessment with emergency management to ensure that your resources are out of harm’s way. ❑ Identify alternative facilities for storing paratransit vehicles during high-risk periods. ❑ Work with emergency management to develop strategies for pre-positioning paratransit vehicles for timely disaster response mobilization. ❑ Secure permission to stage paratransit vehicles at preferred staging locations. ❑ Train essential paratransit staff on preparing, staging, and pre-positioning procedures. Resource for Urban/Suburban Areas ▪▪ Emergency Support Function 1—Transportation Annex http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4184 This EOP Annex directs the organization, mobilization, and coordination of transportation services and resources during and following an emergency or disaster in the King County, Washington, region. 5.C Operations 5.C.1 Service Continuity Depending upon the size/scope of an emergency, paratransit may need to suspend normal service while identifying strategies to meet the essential life-supporting transportation needs of its customers. Furthermore, paratransit may be requested to provide transportation resources to emergency management in response to a community-wide emergency. Factors guiding service suspension and restoration include wind speed, weather and road conditions, magnitude of events, local emergency proclamations, guidance from emergency management or first respond- ers, and whether fixed-route transit or school bus transportation is cancelled. Upon service sus- pension, a plan should also be developed regarding when to transition back to normal service. When regular paratransit services are suspended, paratransit must communicate with cus- tomers and partner agencies that are depending on scheduled transportation services while clearly defining its mission and role with emergency management. If paratransit holds back a significant portion of its vehicles and drivers in an attempt to serve the essential transportation

response 71 needs of its customers, community-wide emergency response capabilities can be affected. This type of decision needs to be discussed with emergency management before an emergency occurs. Another service continuity issue involves paratransit customers displaced by events. They may be on a vehicle when an emergency occurs and unable to continue to planned destinations or they may have been dropped off “in system” and are waiting for paratransit to pick them up. Ideally, customers would be returned to their homes or other points of origin. However, since this may not always be possible, these passengers become a temporary ward of the paratransit provider. Paratransit pro- viders may need to coordinate with their partner agencies for assistance in providing temporary emergency shelter for paratransit customers. Further, paratransit may need to rely on emergency management and other organizations such as the American Red Cross to set up and staff reception centers, shelters, and other care facilities for displaced paratransit customers. Considerations ▪▪ Paratransit service in urban/suburban and rural/tribal settings is improved when formal thresholds for service suspension and restoration have been established. ▪▪ Many paratransit agencies in urban/suburban and rural/tribal settings are making service continuity decisions on a case-by-case basis rather than planning beforehand. ▪▪ Paratransit providers in urban/suburban environments may follow the criteria of large transit, fixed-route providers for service reduction and restoration and thus reduce or restore service in sequence with fixed-route service. ▪▪ Transportation providers in rural/tribal areas often personally know their customers and their travel patterns and therefore may have a better understanding of the impact of service conti- nuity decisions. ▪▪ Many paratransit providers have not adequately addressed the issue of caring for paratransit customers who are “in system” at the time of a no-notice emergency. ▪▪ When a paratransit agency also runs vanpools and worker service routes, it is important that the agency document passenger manifests with passenger cell phone numbers and work phone numbers so these passengers can be contacted in an emergency to alert them to changes in service. ▪▪ Paratransit agencies in urban/suburban or rural/tribal settings that have a coordinated plan to support paratransit emergencies and community evacuations—while still meeting the non-emergency medical transportation needs of regular customers—are significantly more resilient. Effective Practices ▪▪ Setting clear guidelines regarding continuity of service helps paratransit managers support the response to paratransit emergencies as well as to community emergencies. ▪▪ Agreements between paratransit and emergency management that primarily focus paratransit emergency operations on meeting the needs of existing customers enable paratransit to carry out its primary mission while allowing emergency management to concentrate on the emer- gency needs of the general public. ▪▪ By clearly communicating service continuity plans with emergency management, paratransit may be able to retain resources to support the medical transportation needs of regular customers without negatively impacting broader community emergency response and recovery operations. Strategy ▪▪ Decide upon realistic and practical thresholds for suspending service, and develop strategies for reconstitution or startup of service. An important service suspension consideration is ensuring you can continue to meet the needs of your regular customers while providing sup- port for a community emergency response, if requested.

72 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook Tool: Service Continuity ❑ Establish thresholds for the temporary suspension of paratransit services due to emergency conditions. Share this protocol with partner agencies, emergency management, and other key stakeholders. ❑ Assess your database of regular paratransit customers to identify those who may require life-sustaining transportation, such as trips to dialysis centers, and develop plans to determine how these needs can continue to be met by your agency, or other entities, during emergencies. ❑ Initiate discussions with emergency management on the number and type of paratransit resources you are able to provide in support of a disaster response, considering the critical transportation needs of regular paratransit customers. ❑ Consider strategies for meeting the needs of regular paratransit customers who are in system when an emergency occurs. This may require designating emergency dropoff locations and developing MAAs with social service agencies or other transportation entities. ❑ Develop a plan for service startup after suspension. Consider a tiered startup strategy that allows your agency to gradually return operations to full service. ❑ Ensure that all paratransit staff are trained on protocols for service suspension and reconstitution. Resources for Urban/Suburban and Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Emergency Drop Points Form http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=3755 This excerpt from the HSP template in Appendix F of TCRP Report 86: Public Transit Secu- rity, Volume 10 provides instructions and a form for developing pre-designated safe locations to drop off transit passengers in the event of an emergency. ▪▪ Sample Emergency Protocol for Transit System Shutdown http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=3588 This resource outlines actions to be taken by transit system personnel when, based on pre- established thresholds and triggers, a system shutdown becomes necessary. ▪▪ Requirements for Alternate Work Sites Worksheet http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4149 A worksheet from TCRP Report 86/NCHRP Report 525, Volume 8: Continuity of Opera- tions (COOP) Planning Guidelines for Transportation Agencies for recording the requirements for alternate work sites by essential function. Requirements include personnel, special needs, power, communication, and space. ▪▪ Alternate Work Site Options Worksheet http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4148 A worksheet from TCRP Report 86/NCHRP Report 525, Volume 8: Continuity of Opera- tions (COOP) Planning Guidelines for Transportation Agencies for recording information on alternate work sites that may also be used to track MOUs, leases, occupancy and cooperative agreements, and contracts with other entities for facility use. ▪▪ Alternative Facility Identification/Certification Form http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4145 A resource from Caltrans Transit Emergency Planning Guidance Technical Appendices used to record the address and point of contact information for alternative facilities a transit agency has contracted to use in the event of an emergency.

response 73 ▪▪ Emergency Service Contingency Policy http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4183 This example excerpted from “Guidance for Paratransit Emergency Planning” provides guidance on closing normal paratransit operating services in the event of a regional, city-wide, or federal disaster that affects service conditions. 5.C.2 Emergency Dispatching Many paratransit providers rely on computer-based scheduling and dispatch systems for day- to-day operations. Some of these systems depend on Internet access and all rely on electricity, making them vulnerable to disaster. Since these systems provide command and control for vehi- cle deployment, dispatching becomes problematic when these systems are inoperative. Having a backup generator to run computers, communication equipment, and emergency lights increases confidence that a dispatch center will always be available in case of an emergency. In the event the building itself is damaged, paratransit providers need a dispatch system that can be moved along with staff to an alternate dispatching facility. Maintaining hard copies of customer contact lists, driver manifests, and other essential records supports operational continuity when technology fails. Considerations ▪▪ Urban/suburban paratransit agencies frequently have multiple facilities located throughout their service areas and can shift dispatching responsibilities between facilities, if needed. ▪▪ Paratransit agencies in urban/suburban areas often have backup dispatching systems and gen- erators to provide backup power. Most rural/tribal paratransit providers do not have backup generators. ▪▪ Some urban/suburban paratransit systems have mobile dispatch units that can operate remotely. ▪▪ Computer-based scheduling systems are widely used by paratransit agencies in urban/ suburban and rural/tribal areas. Many rural/tribal systems have not addressed the issue of emergency dispatch capabilities. ▪▪ In emergency events where advance notice is possible, paratransit providers may have an opportunity to activate contingency or backup systems, or to relocate the dispatch function out of the potential impact area. ▪▪ In no-notice emergencies, if an agency does not have a backup dispatch system, paratransit drivers may have to make service decisions on their own without a clear picture of the overall situation. ▪▪ In the event that paratransit vehicles cannot respond to an emergency due to lack of an operat- ing dispatch function, emergency response vehicles, such as ambulances, may be required to transport paratransit customers. Using emergency response vehicles for paratransit transpor- tation expends valuable resources potentially needed for life-supporting services. Effective Practices ▪▪ Testing the ability to run a computer-based dispatch system remotely from a computer net- work, or re-booting a “crashed” system from an off-site backup, prepares paratransit to dis- patch remotely from an alternative facility or a mobile command center. ▪▪ Printing driver manifests and maintaining hard copies of contact lists and other essential records enables paratransit to revert to manual dispatching at any time. ▪▪ During a disaster, both incoming and outgoing communication with customers is likely to significantly increase. Paratransit providers should take measures to prepare their dispatchers to efficiently address the surge.

74 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook ▪▪ Establishing a dedicated mobile command vehicle capable of dispatching and operating under almost any condition is another strategy that enables paratransit to carry out its emergency response missions. Smaller paratransit operators sometimes utilize a radio-equipped para- transit vehicle or administrative vehicle for emergency dispatching purposes. Strategy ▪▪ Consider establishing backup dispatching capabilities in case your primary dispatching sys- tem becomes inoperable. The lack of an alternative dispatch methodology will affect your agency’s ability to provide regular service and significantly diminish your agency’s effective- ness to respond in an emergency. Tool: Emergency Dispatching ❑ Explore avenues to obtain a backup generator to run computers, communica- tion equipment, and emergency lights during a power outage. ❑ Develop a plan for manual dispatching. This may include maintaining hard copies of customer contact lists, driver manifests, and other essential dispatch materials that will support operational continuity when your normal dispatch function is inoperable. ❑ Identify alternative facilities or mobile command centers from which the dis- patching function could be performed under emergency conditions. ❑ Consider strategies for running your dispatch operation manually utilizing a handheld radio or operating from a radio-equipped vehicle. ❑ Consider use of satellite phone technology or some other small, portable com- munication platform. Resource for Urban/Suburban Areas ▪▪ Communication Technologies http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4175 This excerpt from the “Guidebook on Technologies for Disaster Preparedness and Miti- gation,” written by Dr. Satyabrata Sahu under a consultancy assignment given by the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology, deals with a broad range of communication technologies that could have wide-ranging potential applications at various stages of disaster management. Resources for Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Advanced Mobile Communications for Emergency Management and Crisis Response http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4176 This paper, written by Michael Bowman, PhD, Murray State University, discusses a robust yet affordable mobile communications system, which Murray State University and its research partners prototyped, demonstrated, and operated, that is particularly well suited for field operation in rural environments and small communities. Work progressed beyond demonstrations to deployments with first responders for actual emergencies and initial sales of the systems. ▪▪ Joint Council on Transit Wireless Communications http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4342 The Joint Council on Transit Wireless Communications was established in 2009 in response to the results of TCRP Project C-18, “Strategic Plan for Meeting Transit Industry Wireless Com- munications Needs.” Under the project, a strategic plan for transit industry wireless commu-

response 75 nications was developed through a collaborative effort with APTA, CTAA, and other industry representatives. One of the transit industry goals identified in the resulting strategic plan is the creation of a joint council to implement the strategic plan. The Joint Council, which was initially funded through TCRP and NCHRP, works to capture all aspects of the passenger transportation industry. Because the wireless communications needs of the more traditional “transit” industry substantially overlap with the needs of other passenger transportation ser- vice providers, the Joint Council provides a place to address these shared interests and to engage crucial partner organizations including FTA, DHS, FCC, TRB, and TCRP. To meet the wireless communications goals of the transit industry, it will be important to maintain an ongoing exchange with these partner organizations. 5.C.3 Individuals Needing Evacuation Assistance 5.C.3.a Identifying and Locating Individuals Knowing who may need evacuation assistance and where they are located at the time of an emergency is a universal challenge. Some communities have voluntary registries. However, research indicates that people with access and functional needs often do not self-identify or only subscribe to such registries as an added assurance when in fact they have other means of transportation and are unlikely to use the service. Other problems with registries include keeping the database up-to-date and the fact that many who need assistance may not be home when an emergency occurs. Additionally, use of a registry may imply an unrealistic promise of rescue. Because of these issues, many emergency managers are finding ways to leverage existing databases rather than establishing a special registry. Because Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) considerations may prevent sharing of databases with emergency management, interagency agreements with paratransit, in-home health services, adult protective services, senior nutrition programs, and disability service providers may provide a vehicle by which to share information and coordinate response activities during emergencies. Considerations ▪▪ Identifying individuals who require evacuation assistance is challenging in both urban/ suburban and rural/tribal environments. Emergency management is often aware of the loca- tion of resident care centers but unaware of people living in private residences throughout the community who may need assistance. Paratransit customer databases can help bridge that gap before, during, and after disasters. ▪▪ Due to the size and scope of operations, it is likely that paratransit agencies in rural/tribal environments know the personal situations and travel patterns of individuals who may be in need of evacuation assistance. ▪▪ In advance-notice emergencies, it is sometimes possible for emergency management to solicit requests for pickup from individuals requiring evacuation assistance. ▪▪ No-notice emergency response is often hampered by loss of communication systems that enable individuals to request evacuation assistance. Effective Practices ▪▪ Some paratransit providers have mass notification systems that use customer database infor- mation to send messages by text, phone, or email to warn customers of imminent risks and to provide guidance on how to access evacuation assistance. ▪▪ Coordination between emergency management and resident care centers to encourage shel- tering in place when possible may relieve stress on the residents, the facility, and paratransit providers. However, sheltering in place will require significant preparation.

76 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook 5.C.3.b Level of Need It is difficult for emergency management to know the specific needs of individuals requiring evacuation assistance, whether residing alone or within resident care centers. Failure to fully assess the medical and psychological conditions of evacuees may result in paratransit being dispatched to transport individuals requiring a higher level of care than paratransit drivers are trained or qualified to deliver. Alternatively, ambulances may be dispatched to transport indi- viduals who could readily be transported by paratransit, thereby unnecessarily burdening emer- gency medical services resources. Considerations ▪▪ Paratransit agencies are usually well aware of the access and functional needs of their own customer base. This is especially true in rural/tribal settings. ▪▪ Emergency situations in urban/suburban and rural/tribal settings can affect paratransit cus- tomers in ways that necessitate a higher level of transportation care. Such customers include people with cognitive disabilities who become anxious or agitated by emergency incidents as well as passengers with medical conditions that are worsened by disaster impacts. ▪▪ Advance-notice events may allow more time to gather intelligence about evacuees and plan for the most appropriate mode of transport. ▪▪ No-notice emergencies are more likely to create situations where paratransit is asked to trans- port individuals who are not regular customers, as well as people whose care needs may exceed the normal care levels expected of paratransit drivers. Effective Practices ▪▪ Successful emergency response protocols include coordination with public health officials and/or on-scene responders to determine the best mode of transportation based on physi- cal, psychological, or medical needs of evacuees. Alternatives typically include ambulances or non-emergency medical transport, or having a medical professional accompany the passenger on a paratransit vehicle. ▪▪ Use of Non-Emergency Stretcher Transport (NEST) can reduce the emergency demand for paratransit vehicles and ambulances. ▪▪ When evacuating individuals from resident care centers, it is important that medical records accompany the evacuees. Staff supporting evacuations at reception centers or shelters will need these records to properly care for evacuees. An effective practice is to have personal care attendants accompany evacuees and transport their medical records and adaptive equipment. ▪▪ Paratransit providers should provide clear communication to customers on emergency trans- portation capabilities and limitations. Transporting special equipment, such as motorized wheelchairs/scooters, excess oxygen tanks, etc., can place significant demand on paratransit resources and the customer must be made aware of the implications of that demand. Also, customers must be made aware of any limitations on emergency transportation for family members, caregivers, and pets. ▪▪ Paratransit providers should consider the possibility of recruiting and training volunteers to serve as on-vehicle aides. These aides can be extremely helpful in assisting the driver, particu- larly when individuals being evacuated have a higher level of physical or psychological needs than the driver is trained to handle. These aides can be potentially recruited out of the ranks of healthcare professionals and human service agencies. ▪▪ Paratransit providers should coordinate with resident care centers to develop evacuation pro- tocols, including appropriate facility emergency pickup points. ▪▪ When evacuating large numbers of people to various locations, marking paratransit vehicles with color-coded signs and providing evacuees with corresponding color indicators such as wristbands or cards will help ensure that people will board the correct vehicle and arrive at the appropriate destination.

response 77 Strategy ▪▪ Paratransit providers can assist emergency management in identifying and locating people with access and functional needs that may require evacuation assistance. While emergency management may know the locations of resident care centers, it may have limited knowledge about the travel patterns and personal residences of people living independently in the com- munity who may need evacuation assistance. The paratransit customer database and the pro- vider’s understanding of customer needs can be extremely helpful to emergency management. Tool: Individuals Needing Evacuation Assistance ❑ Consider developing an alert notification system capable of contacting para- transit customers by text, telephone, and email to warn them of hazards or threats and provide direction on how to obtain evacuation assistance. ❑ Have systems, such as text, telephone, or email, for regular paratransit cus- tomers to contact your paratransit agency to request evacuation assistance for advance-notice emergencies. ❑ Strategize on ways to identify and meet customer evacuation needs after a no-notice emergency. ❑ Participate in meetings with emergency management and other agencies to discuss methodologies for identifying and locating people with access and functional needs that have a high probability of requiring evacuation assistance. ❑ Collaborate with emergency management and emergency medical services personnel to ensure appropriate transportation resources are dispatched to meet the medical needs of evacuees. One option is to have personal care attendants ride with evacuees aboard paratransit vehicles and transport passenger medical records. Resources for Urban/Suburban and Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Health Information Privacy: Disclosures for Emergency Preparedness—A Decision Tool http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4141 This link is to a US Department of Health & Human Services website decision tool to help in determining how the HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to disclosure. This tool focuses on the source of the information being disclosed, to whom the information is being disclosed, and the purpose of the information being disclosed. ▪▪ Planning Evacuation for Vulnerable Populations http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=3856 This article from the October 2007 Kansas Trans Reporter newsletter addresses locating and transporting vulnerable populations during a community emergency. ▪▪ TCRP Report 150: Communication with Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4087 http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/166060.aspx This report describes how to create a communication process to reach vulnerable popula- tions regarding their transportation options in emergencies. The toolkit provides a guiding framework and tools for constructing a scalable, adaptable communication process built on a network of agencies from public, private, and non-profit sectors. Together, these partners will form interconnected communication channels with the ability to carry out the function of emergency communication not necessarily possible by working alone.

78 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook ▪▪ NCHRP Project 20-59(32), “A Transportation Guide for All-Hazards Emergency Evacuation” http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=2607 This project provides an all-hazards emergency evacuation guide for transportation and emergency management agencies that identifies, reviews, and integrates a range of resources necessary for state transportation agencies to plan, train, exercise, and execute all-hazards emergency evacuations. The primary audiences are those at the state and local level who are responsible for planning (and execution or support) of an evacuation within a state, includ- ing but not limited to transportation, public safety, and emergency management. The guide will be of interest to other entities involved in support of evacuations, including transit, para- transit, advisors on access and functional needs, fire and rescue, law enforcement, public works, and health and human services, as appropriate, to be able to mobilize evacuation resources and make well-considered tactical decisions. The guide is designed to be applicable on a state, multi-state, or cross-jurisdictional border basis. ▪▪ Define, Locate, and Reach Special, Vulnerable, and At-Risk Populations in an Emergency http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4142 This workbook from the US Department of Health & Human Services describes a process that will help planners to define, locate, and reach at-risk populations in an emergency. ▪▪ Planning and Preparedness—Overview http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4163 Chapter 3 of the FHWA “Evacuating Populations with Special Needs” discusses the chal- lenges for emergency evacuation planning and preparedness such as identifying special needs populations, planning “with” versus planning “for” people with special needs, training, medi- cal needs, shelters, and the role of transportation agencies. ▪▪ Assisting Special Needs Populations During Disaster Response http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4161 Excerpts from FTA’s “Disaster Response and Recovery Resource for Transit Agencies,” pub- lished in 2006, provide information on how transit agencies can assist special needs popula- tions during disaster response. ▪▪ Disaster Preparedness in Federal Legislation, Regulations, Policy http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4162 Chapter 2 of FHWA’s “Evacuating Populations with Special Needs” provides a list of existing laws, as of 2009, related to special needs populations. Of special note is (1) the Stafford Act that established the Presidential disaster declaration system, which triggers federal financial and resource assistance to eligible states and local authorities through FEMA, and (2) the Pet Evacuation Transportation Standards Act that requires all cities and states to have a pet plan in place to receive FEMA funding. ▪▪ Transportation and Emergency Preparedness Checklist http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=3346 This checklist from the National Consortium on Human Services Transportation is to assist in the emergency planning process and to ensure safe and appropriate transportation for transportation-dependent populations, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, and individuals without access to personal transportation in an emergency situation. ▪▪ Sensitivity to Passengers’ Special Needs Is Especially Important During an Emergency http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=3865 This article from the April 2008 Kansas Trans Reporter newsletter describes easy-to-use procedures for assisting persons with disabilities during emergencies as well as in routine encounters. ▪▪ Communication Needs http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4164 Chapter 4 of FHWA’s “Evacuating Populations with Special Needs” provides information for transportation personnel on how to better communicate with people who have lim-

response 79 ited English proficiency, who speak other languages, and who have a disability that affects communications. 5.C.4 Mobilization Before responding to critical incidents or emergency service requests, your paratransit agency may have to call in additional staff while on-duty drivers complete existing service requirements. Emergency plans should account for the time needed to drop off existing pas- sengers and/or bring in off-duty drivers. It is helpful to have a strategy that assists in estimating how long it will take to mobilize paratransit services in the event of an emergency and what paratransit resources are available at various times of the day and night. Depending on the time of day, paratransit providers can usually mobilize relatively quickly. This excludes the delivery of “in-system” passengers who cannot be returned home or to their points of origin. Up-to-date call-down lists for mobilizing staff are an essential component to any emergency response plan. These lists should be available in the offices, cars, and homes of paratransit man- agers and supervisors. Understanding who will be available to respond and what their roles and responsibilities will be establishes a solid framework for paratransit emergency mobilization, whether in regards to meeting the needs of customers or participating in a community-wide emergency response. Considerations ▪▪ In urban/suburban and rural/tribal paratransit operations, it is a challenge to estimate how many employees will report for duty during a community emergency. Paratransit providers large and small may experience a lower percentage of staff reporting to work than the plan- ning process anticipates. ▪▪ In urban/suburban and rural/tribal paratransit operations where reporting for duty during an emergency is a required condition of employment, the reporting percentage is historically higher. ▪▪ In jurisdictions where paratransit service is contracted, there are sometimes greater resources to support emergency response since paratransit contractor companies may be able to tap into resources from their other paratransit operations across the region. ▪▪ Advance-notice emergencies provide opportunities to consider service continuity issues and to put staff on standby to support incident response. No-notice emergencies are particularly challenging since they may affect a paratransit provider’s ability to communicate with off-duty staff to request they report for work. ▪▪ Limitations on paratransit drivers can possibly be addressed by creating MAAs with exter- nal pools of drivers, such as the National Guard or public works employees. These backup drivers will have to be trained on the operation of paratransit vehicles and can be par- ticularly effective as relief drivers to allow regular paratransit drivers to get rest during emergencies. Effective Practices ▪▪ Paratransit providers with formal plans for mobilizing their resources during an emergency response, as well as strategies to accurately anticipate which staff will be able to report to work, have a much stronger track record of success in emergency response. ▪▪ Keeping a roster of employee personal cell phone numbers and emails can assist paratransit agencies in contacting employees with requests to report to work during an emergency, as well as provide redundant communication with employees when they have been mobilized during an emergency.

80 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook Strategy ▪▪ Have a plan for quickly mobilizing paratransit resources in an emergency and include a course of action for a staffing surge. An important part of this plan is to be able to accurately assess the number of staff that will report to work during an emergency and the length of time it will take to mobilize staff. Tool: Mobilization To effectively mobilize staff: ❑ Identify key personnel expected to report to work for an emergency response. ❑ Ask essential personnel to sign a volunteer list to serve during emergencies or explain why they are unable to do so. ❑ Develop and maintain a call-down list to mobilize staff in an emergency. Call- down lists should be available in the offices, cars, and homes of paratransit managers, supervisors, or other responsible staff. ❑ Consider establishing a message line where all employees can call for assign- ments during emergency events or identifying a community radio station that staff can tune in to for information or instructions regarding emergency response assignments. ❑ Issue standing orders regarding where to report during an emergency if tele- phone and radio systems are inoperable. ❑ Estimate the amount of time it will take to mobilize staff and vehicles and plan accordingly. If your agency is assisting in community emergency response, provide emergency management with this information as well. ❑ Have vehicles prepped and ready to pull out. ❑ Have plans to shelter essential staff and family members at transit facilities, if necessary. ❑ Have agreements with neighboring transit properties, the National Guard, first responders, or other resources to augment paratransit staff in times of need. Mobilization guidelines for community emergency response: ❑ When emergency management/incident management requests paratransit resources, it should provide the following information: – Mission task number – Staging area location – On-scene contact – Recommended route, road closures, and road condition information – If available, the number of persons requiring transportation assistance – Destination location – Special needs or requirements ❑ Paratransit dispatch should notify appropriate paratransit staff in a manner consistent with the agency’s incident notification policy, and provide emergency management with an estimated time of arrival that is as soon as is practical. ❑ Paratransit needs to ensure that the vehicles it dispatches are insured, fueled, in good working condition, and appropriate for the requested mission. ❑ Paratransit should track all time and costs associated with deployment of vehi- cles, operators, and other support personnel. ❑ Paratransit dispatch needs to maintain communication with IC regarding para- transit resource mobilization activities.

response 81 Resources for Urban/Suburban Areas ▪▪ Template Call-Down List and Instructions http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4155 This resource is adapted from a form located on the Salt Lake City Community College Risk Management website. ▪▪ Sample Emergency Call-Down List and Procedure http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4156 A call-down list from the San Luis Obispo County, California, website. ▪▪ Sample Worksheet for Trip Times http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4169 Annex 4 of FHWA’s “Evacuating Populations with Special Needs” is a worksheet to record such information as driver’s name, passenger count, date of trip, departure time, shelter loca- tion or receiving facility, passenger’s name, staging area location, service animal or pet, and beginning and ending mileage. ▪▪ Transportation Needs During Activation and Operations http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4165 Chapter 5 of FHWA’s “Evacuating Populations with Special Needs” discusses mobilizing vehicles and vehicle operators, dispatch and tracking, and evacuation and reentry. Resource for Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Sample Emergency Bus Mobilization Plan http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4120 This sample plan from the CTANW website is for coordinating the mobilization of bus resources in support of emergency activities. This plan is usually a part of the ESF-1 Transpor- tation function within a county comprehensive emergency management plan. 5.C.5 Pets In regular operations, all paratransit operators allow service animals onboard as required by the ADA, but most paratransit providers do not allow pets on board. Those agencies that do allow pets have policies that require dogs to be leashed and muzzled and other pets to be in a carrier before being brought onboard. Many paratransit EOPs do not address transporting pets under emergency conditions. His- tory clearly demonstrates that some people will not evacuate if they cannot take their pets with them, thus putting themselves at risk. Paratransit agencies can be very helpful when accommo- dating or transporting household pets, therefore motivating people to evacuate. Yet transporting pets without an appropriate cage or carrier, or without a leash and muzzle, could present a haz- ard to other passengers. There may also be health issues in terms of sanitation, animal diseases, or allergies. During emergency operations, paratransit often waives policies prohibiting pets on vehicles. Some try to impose rules regarding carriers or crates, but in practice, these policies are often waived too, as many people do not own carriers for their pets. The issue of transporting pets during evacuation and subsequent reentry requires communication and coordination between paratransit providers, emergency management, humane societies, and other animal welfare agen- cies. Pre-planning is necessary to address the collection, transfer, housing, and care of animals. Considerations ▪▪ The issue of pet transportation in emergency situations is gaining attention in both urban/ suburban and rural/tribal settings.

82 paratransit emergency preparedness and Operations handbook ▪▪ Issues surrounding pet evacuation typically require extensive pre-planning to address safety and security concerns, and therefore, advance-notice emergencies tend to be less challenging where pet transportation is concerned. Effective Practices ▪▪ The success of community-wide evacuation activities has been significantly enhanced when emergency management and paratransit providers have jointly agreed to policies that address the emergency transportation needs of individuals accompanied by pets, while also protecting the safety of other passengers. ▪▪ Some paratransit providers designate certain vehicles to be used solely for the emergency transport of individuals with pets. Often these same providers have worked with emergency management or other key stakeholders to identify pet-friendly shelters and/or kennel facilities. ▪▪ Coordinating with animal care facilities to understand their care policies and capacity can be important, and this information should be communicated to customers and can help expedite customer evacuation transportation. ▪▪ Increasingly, emergency management agencies are co-locating shelters with kennel/animal facilities staffed by volunteers and veterinarians to help overcome this planning concern. Strategy ▪▪ To be fully prepared to evacuate people during an emergency response, have a policy that addresses the transport of pets that are not service animals. This policy should consider pas- senger safety, operational safety, and the capabilities of reception centers or shelters for pet care. Tool: Pets ❑ Participate in meetings with emergency management, humane societies, and other animal welfare agencies to discuss plans for evacuating people that own pets. Consideration should be given to: – The type of pets that will be allowed onboard paratransit vehicles. – Whether pets must be muzzled, leashed, or caged while on paratransit vehicles. – Whether certain paratransit vehicles will be assigned solely for the emer- gency transport of individuals with pets because of allergic and asthmatic reactions or other passenger health concerns. ❑ Collaborate with emergency management, humane societies, or veterinarians to identify pet-friendly shelters and/or kennel facilities. ❑ Develop a method to communicate paratransit pet transport and sheltering policies to potential evacuees. The information should include requirements for proof of vaccination; licenses, ID, and rabies tags on collars; leashes, muz- zles, and crates or cages; and medicine/prescription needs. ❑ Plan for the possibility of transporting pets during reentry activities. ❑ Train paratransit drivers on the agency’s emergency pet transport protocols and procedures. Procedures should include methods for protecting passengers as well as drivers. Resource for Urban/Suburban and Rural/Tribal Areas ▪▪ Animal Needs http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4167 Chapter 7 of the FHWA “Evacuating Populations with Special Needs” discusses the wide variety of needs in handling, transporting, and sheltering animals during an evacuation.

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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 160: Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook includes guidance, strategies, tools, and resources to help paratransit service providers plan and prepare for, respond to, and recover from a range of emergencies. The guidance has applicability to urban, suburban, rural, and tribal paratransit operating environments.

The project that developed TCRP Report 160 also a PowerPoint presentation describing the entire project.

An HTML version of the report is also available.

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