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Page 10
Suggested Citation:"Section 1: Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25557.
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Page 10
Page 11
Suggested Citation:"Section 1: Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25557.
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Page 11
Page 12
Suggested Citation:"Section 1: Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25557.
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Page 12

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10  Section 1: Introduction  Emergency  management  involves  preparing  for,  responding  to,  and  recovering  from  a  disaster  or  emergency. It is a continuous process of managing threats and hazards to avoid or reduce the impact of  incidents and events.   Transportation plays a critical and unique role in emergency management.  Transportation’s unique role  stems from the broad range of capabilities and responsibilities a transportation agency has:    large and  distributed workforces, easy access  to heavy equipment, and a  robust communications  infrastructure.   State  transportation  agencies  have  important  resources  that  can  be made  available  in  the  event  of  emergencies, such as transportation management centers, situation awareness, and field staff.   As  the  National  Response  Framework  (NRF)  states,  “The  ability  to  sustain  transportation  services,  mitigate  adverse  economic  impacts, meet  societal  needs,  and move  emergency  relief  personnel  and  commodities will hinge on effective transportation decisions at all levels.”  To be ready for the agency’s  role, a comprehensive emergency management program must be in place within the agency.    Overall DOT efforts have improved emergency response planning and training since the publication of the   2010 Guide. When an emergency occurs, routine day‐to‐day operations give way to a focused, practiced,  and resilient crisis management approach that requires professional skills throughout the breadth and  depth of  the organization. Traffic  Incident Management  (TIM) provides processes and procedures  for  responders  (firefighters,  emergency medical  services  (EMS),  law  enforcement,  towing  and  recovery,  safety patrols, transportation and maintenance crews, and 9‐1‐1 professionals) to work together as a team  to clear incidents safely and quickly. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) integrates best  practices  into a comprehensive  framework  for use by emergency management personnel at  the  local,  state,  and  federal  levels.  The  Incident  Command  System  (ICS)  provides  the  integration  of  facilities,  equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications for emergencies.  As a part of their emergency management function, state DOTs are responsible for creating all‐hazards  plans and ensuring  that employees have  the ability  to  implement  them. These all‐hazards plans must  conform with and complement the planning activities of the rest of the state’s operations and agencies  as well as those of regional authorities. DOTs may coordinate planning efforts with other state agencies,  including  the  state's  Emergency  Management  Agency;  county  highway  departments;  with  various  agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation; and with DOTs from other states to ensure activities  can be easily integrated when necessary. DOTs also need to plan to receive and use resources provided  by other states and the federal government during operations.  In conducting these activities, DOTs should  consider applicable standards and best practices for incorporating risk and resilience into functions and  systems.  Challenges Facing State Transportation Agencies  Planning  for emergency management  relates  to  the  following  important challenges  for  transportation  agencies:   Today there are higher expectations for system performance and reliability and lower tolerance for delays. Small events pose threats of great consequences since the impact of any incident is magnified when a transportation network is operating at or past its capacity – as is the case in portions of many states as travel demand on their transportation networks grows.

11   Hazards and threats to the system continue to evolve. Transportation agencies are at increasingly greater risk from system‐disrupting events due to natural causes, accidents,  unintentional human intervention, or intentional interventions such as insider threats and criminal acts. In addition, the risk  of  natural  and  man‐made  events  is  growing  due  to  numerous  factors  including  aging infrastructure.  Because today’s transportation systems integrate cyber and physical components, cyber risks are increasing, and include the risk of a cyber incident impacting not only data but the control systems of  the  physical  infrastructure  operated  by  transportation  agencies  (e.g.,  tunnel  ventilation systems and traffic control systems).  State transportation agencies have important resources that can be made available in the event of emergencies (transportation management centers, situation awareness, field staff, and heavy equipment).  Effective emergency response is increasingly multimodal, including all modes and sectors that use the highway system—personal travel, transit, and commercial vehicle transport.  There  has  been,  and  continues  to  be,  significant  deployment  of  new  resources  and  rapidly developing technologies to support DOT activities such as ShakeCast, FloodCast and remote, in‐ situ,  or  portable monitoring/damage  detection  techniques  and  sensors  such  as  sonar,  radar, satellite imagery, and unmanned aerial vehicles.  Traffic  Incident  Management  (TIM)  provides  processes  and  procedures  for  responders (firefighters,  EMS,  law  enforcement,  towing  and  recovery,  safety  patrols,  transportation  and maintenance crews, and 9‐1‐1 professionals) to work together as a team to clear incidents safely and quickly. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) integrates best practices  into a comprehensive framework for use by emergency management personnel at the local, state, and federal  levels.  The  Incident  Command  System  (ICS)  provides  the  integration  of  facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications for emergencies.  Transportation agencies play a key role in evacuating people out of harm’s way. Recognizing the unique  challenges  posed  by  the  disaster  environment  on mobility  and  the  safe  and  secure movement of people and goods, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) produced a primer series  titled  ROUTES  TO  EFFECTIVE  EVACUATIONS  to  improve  evacuation  planning  and implementation by bringing to the emergency management community new ways of better using the transportation network before and during evacuations. Overview of Sections  Section  1  provides  an  introduction  to  emergency management.  Overall  DOT  efforts  have  improved  emergency response planning and training since the First Edition of the Guide to Emergency Management  was  published  in  2010.  There  have  been  significant  advances  in  emergency  management  and  transportation response planning and recent guidance at the national level reshaping the focus and long‐ term directions of  transportation agencies.  It  includes  information  to assist  transportation agencies  in  understanding the impact of shift in focus from protection of assets to resilience of systems.    Section 2 provides an overview of  the  current  state of emergency management and  the  institutional  context for emergency management. It includes a summary of what emergency management is and places  it  in  the  context  of  preparedness  and  the  objectives  of  the  National  Preparedness  Framework.    It  summarizes  the  emergency  management  legal  authorities  and  the  current  national  frameworks,  strategies and guidance related to emergency management. 

12  Section 3 discusses all‐hazards emergency management and provides a  summary of  the hazards and  threats that affect transportation systems and the typical impact of each hazard.  Hazards include space  weather and cyber threats.   Section  4  discusses  the  components  of  an  emergency management  program  including  cross‐cutting  capabilities – planning, staffing, communication, and collaboration – along with the mission areas of the  National Preparedness Framework – protection, preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery.   Section  5  provides  an  overview  of  the  significant  role  transportation  agencies  have  in  emergency  management  and  identifies  functions,  roles,  and  responsibilities  of  all  stakeholders,  including MPOs,  required over  the  continuum of  emergencies  (i.e.,  planned  activities, minor  incident, major  incident,  hazardous materials incident, natural disaster, and terrorist incident).   Section  6  contains  information  on  developing  and maintaining  an  effective  emergency management  transportation agency workforce. It also provides an overview of training available, methods of training  delivery for employees, and information on full‐scale exercises and drills.  Appendix A is a resource guide with resources and tools for transportation agencies to use in supporting  their emergency management responsibilities.   Appendix B contains case studies from state DOT organizations.    Appendix C contains acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms.   Appendix D is a glossary of key terms used in emergency management.    Appendix E consists of an Annotated Bibliography of information sources.   Appendix F  includes examples gathered from transportation agencies of model Emergency Operations  Plans, Policy and Procedural Memoranda, Memoranda of Understanding, and Training/Exercise Plans.   

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State transportation agencies will always fulfill a role in the emergency-management effort - for all incidents, from the routine traffic incident through major emergencies to catastrophic events. State agency plans and procedures are expected (indeed required if the agency seeks federal compensation) to be related to state and regional emergency structures and plans. This involves multi-agency, multi‐jurisdictional cooperation in emergency planning and operations.

This pre-publication draft, NCHRP Research Report 931: A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies, is an update to a 2010 guide that provided an approach to all‐hazards emergency management and documented existing practices in emergency-response planning.

Significant advances in emergency management, changing operational roles at State DOTs and other transportation organizations, along with federal guidance issued since 2010, have resulted in a need to reexamine requirements for state transportation agency emergency-management functions, roles, and responsibilities.

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