National Academies Press: OpenBook

Emergency Working Groups at Airports (2019)

Chapter: Summary

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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Emergency Working Groups at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25572.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Emergency Working Groups at Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25572.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

1 When an aviation incident causes injuries or deaths, assistance to victims and their friends and relatives becomes necessary. If the incident is an aircraft accident, it is the legislated airline’s responsibility to provide this assistance; however, the airline may not have enough employees at the airport to deliver this assistance. In addition, the airline’s care team may not arrive for 12 to 24 hours (or even 48 hours in the case of a carrier headquartered out- side the United States). During this interval, the legislated airline may need help taking care of the victims and their families. If the incident is something other than an aircraft accident, such as an active shooter, a bomb explosion, or another all-hazards incident, the airport usually delivers family assistance services; however, it may need help from non- airport employees who are trained to help with family assistance. In all cases, collaboration is essential to achieve the goals of safety, security, compassion, customer service, regulatory compliance, and reputation. Airport emergency working groups (EWGs) have emerged since 2013 as an organi- zational method of creating this collaboration. EWGs are collaborative arrangements between airports and their airlines, and sometimes between airports, airlines, and other agencies and organizations that train and mobilize volunteers to support either the legis- lated airline or the airport with family assistance. Usually, EWGs are created to enhance capabilities to support victim and family assistance. Once established, an EWG may tran- sition into an all-hazards organization that provides victim and family assistance for all types of emergencies and disasters. It is also possible that EWG formation may be triggered by a nonaircraft accident or incident. This study compiles information on existing practices related to all aspects of the devel- opment and operations of EWGs, and it provides model documents that have been used to recruit EWG members and to guide EWG operations. A checklist for EWG formation is also included. In addition to EWGs, this study describes five other approaches to providing family assis- tance during the 12 to 24 (or 48) hours before the legislated airline’s care team arrives and it describes the criteria for deciding whether an EWG is suitable for an airport. Six topics for further research are identified: developing an all-hazards collaborative workshop comparable to the NTSB family assistance workshops; finding or developing models for contracted family assistance programs; examining how airports, airlines, and their emergency response partners can develop a culture of interagency coordination for the regular sharing of airline, airport, and other emergency response plans and strate- gies; measuring the benefits of EWGs to business continuity, continuity of operations, S U M M A R Y Emergency Working Groups at Airports

2 Emergency Working Groups at Airports and emergency preparedness of airports and airlines; managing an emergency or incident associated with a flight diversion; and training and professional development of airport emergency managers. The data for this study was derived from 32 interviews with 25 airports (17 large-hub, four medium-hub, and four small-hub airports) and one interview with NTSB. Among these airports, there were 14 EWGs in various stages of development. The interviews were completed September through December 2018.

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Airports—especially in the past two decades—have generally sought to promote and increase collaboration among the members of the airport community, particularly between an airport and its airlines. One metric of this trend has been the increase in the number of U.S. airports with full-time emergency managers, from fewer than 10 in 2007 to more than 120 today. Collaboration and increased professionalism in airport emergency management have gone hand in hand.

No matter whether the incident is aircraft-related or an incident in the terminal—such as an active shooter, a bomb threat, or other hazard—the goals of airports, airlines, and others in the airport community are to achieve safety, security, compassion, customer service, regulatory compliance, and reputation. Achieving these goals can contribute to resiliency and to the protection of critical infrastructure and key resources.

Although air travel is one of the safest modes of travel, and airports are among the safest public spaces in the United States, air-travel incidents do occur. ACRP Synthesis 99: Emergency Working Groups at Airports documents these working groups and how they assist victims and their families and friends in the weeks following an incident.

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