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21 Findings from Interviews Characteristics of Emergency Working Groups The most fundamental characteristics of EWGs are that they are voluntary and that they provide an expanded workforce with specialized training to support victim and family assistance during the 12 to 24 hours that it may take the legislated airlineâs care team to reach the airport. In this study, 13 of the 14 EWGs started as a means of dealing with family assistance in the case of an aircraft accident; one EWG was all-hazards from its inception. The 13 either have begun to expand the role of the group into an all-hazards role or they intend to do so within the next 1â2 years. The development of an EWG at an airport is facilitated by having at least one champion to sell the concept, and these champions appear to be especially effective if they come from airlines. EWG success also depends on support from senior management. Building and sustaining an effective EWG requires considerable investment of time and effort by the airportâs emergency management staff. This can be mitigated by having a core group in the EWG that does the âheavy liftingââorganizing the group, recruiting other members through outreach, and doing early planning processes. EWGs can be highly effective at drafting airport plans, particularly airport family assistance plans. They can also be useful as sounding boards and as reviewers for AEPs and standard oper- ating procedures. In addition to providing specialized training, EWGs need to be involved in as many airport drills and exercises as possible. EWGs are beneficial to airports, airlines, passengers, and other stakeholders. The return on investment in an EWG is strongly positive. Establishing and Sustaining an Emergency Working Group The interview results in Chapter 2 and 3 and the five case examples in Chapter 4 present the details of how an EWG can be established and sustained. A checklist for establishing an EWG is in Appendix J of this report. Completion of two initial steps is essential: (1) deciding if an EWG is suitable at the airport, and (2) finding one or more champions. Deciding if an Emergency Working Group Is Warranted A formal gap analysis is one way to determine if an EWG is warranted, but none of the 14 airports in the study reported having done one. One airportâLAXâused vulnerability assessments to help make the case for its EWG, but EWG formation was already underway. C H A P T E R 3
22 Emergency Working Groups at Airports A helpful step in assessing the desirability of an EWG may be to host a 1- or 2-day NTSB transportation disaster assistance family assistance workshop. This step will crystalize stake- holdersâ awareness of the full extent of family assistance and the value of collaboration among the potential EWG members. The airports reported the following indicators that an EWG may be beneficial at an airport: â¢ Airline interest â¢ Numerous airlines with small staffs on-site or that use contracted ground handlers for passenger services â¢ Some airlines that will have difficulty getting their care teams to the airport quickly â¢ A large enough airport emergency management staff to facilitate the development of the EWG and its meetings, training, and involvement in exercises â¢ Senior management support â¢ Airportâs desire to increase degree of collaboration â¢ Firsthand experience with an actual incident that required victim and family assistance Indicators that an EWG may not be desirable at an airport include the following: â¢ Lack of airline interest â¢ Airport located near the headquarters of its major airline(s) â¢ Airline care teams able to reach the airport quickly â¢ Small or nonexistent dedicated emergency management staff at airport â¢ Presence of another means of promoting collaboration Finding a Champion In the case of most of the 14 EWGs found in this study, the champion of the EWG found the airport. At least nine airlines and one alliance appear to actively encourage EWGs from the cor- porate level, either directly or through their station managers. Multiple champions are good to have, whether from two or more airlines (e.g., at HNL and SEA), an airline and the airport (e.g., at IAH and LAX), or airlines, the airport, and an outside consultant (at SEA). Outreach presen- tations about a proposed EWG seem to be more effective when given by an airline champion. Not having a champion makes forming an EWG difficult. It also makes garnering and sus- taining senior management support more challenging. The downside of having just one airline champion is the risk of the EWG appearing to be beholden to that one airlineâs agenda. Phases of Development Selling The main aspects of the selling phase of EWG development are finding an EWG champion or champions, gaining senior management support, committing airport staff resources to the EWG project, and performing outreach to the airlines and other potential EWG members. Once the commitment has been made, outreach can be aimed first at the airlines and service providers. The alignment between the EWGâs immediate goal of supporting victim and fam- ily assistance and the airlinesâ responsibilities can make for a mutuality of interest and the establishment of a relationship. Table 3 in Chapter 2 presents the various outreach methods that have been used to sell the 14 EWGs included in this study. The most effective outreach methods seem to be presentations by an airline champion to other airlines and agencies, training support by the airport to airlines, and the invitation to airlines to observe or participate in airport exercises.
Findings from Interviews 23 Organizing EWG organizational structures tend to be unique to each airport. If the structure is formal, the most effective structure appears to be a chair and a cochair, either both from airlines or one from an airline and the other from the airport. If the structure is informal, an airport emergency manager will normally facilitate the EWG. No particular advantage was noted of formal struc- ture over informal structure. It is important that the organizational structure of the EWG not appear to favor any one airlineâs agenda. Most EWGs have a core group or steering committee that guides them through the most time- and effort-intensive part of the organization phase and perhaps also through the early collaborative planning processes for family assistance. Whatever structure is chosen, the keys to success are unity of goals, a clear mission state- ment, steady communication among EWG members, and frequent participation in training and exercises. Training and Exercising As noted in Chapter 2, the specialized training required to ensure that victim and family assistance is done right can be derived from a number of sources: the airport, the EWG, each air- line, NTSB workshops, the American Red Cross, consultants, or a combination of these sources. Staff turnover and changes in regulatory requirements mean that training needs to be repeated fairly often, perhaps on an annual cycle. EWG effectiveness can be enhanced by incorporating the EWG into all airport drills and exercises that involve mass casualties and family assistance. The overall program is improved when the airport participates in airlinesâ emergency and family assistance exercises. Expanding Scope In nearly every EWG, the initial focus was on aircraft accidents. This makes sense as it leverages the existing awareness on the part of airlines and the airport of the regulatory and other requirements for victim and family assistance after an incident. It gives focus to recruiting efforts and benefits from the clear guidance given in NTSBâs 2008 Federal Family Assistance Plan for Aviation Disasters. The lessons learned from Asiana Flight 214 are still relatively fresh in the minds of most airport emergency and operations managers. Once the EWG has finished its planning tasks and its first round of specialized training for family assistance, the group may choose to expand to provide victim and family assistance response support for all-hazards. Such an expansion will usually require an expanded commit- ment by the airport to provide training on other types of hazards. Expanding the scope of the EWG may run the risk of diminishing airline interest, but this can probably be overcome by emphasizing the continuity of operations and the continuity of business aspects of improved preparedness, response, and recovery. Relationship building and collaboration assist emergency preparedness. Sustaining Few of the 14 EWGs have matured beyond the three developmental stages, so experience with sustaining a mature EWG is limited. Sustaining an EWG seems to be helped by having a large number of airlines and other stakeholders as EWG members; doing real tasks related to planning and reviewing; providing realistic and frequent training that is relevant to the airlines; and participating in a wide variety of exercises. Recognition of individual or airline contribu- tions was not cited by any interviewee as useful for sustaining interest. This would be contrary to the collaborative nature of an EWG.
24 Emergency Working Groups at Airports Typical Timeline for Developing an Emergency Working Group Figure 3 was developed from data obtained from interviewing the 14 airports with EWGs. It shows a typical timeline for developing an EWG. The details will vary from airport to airport, and the process or steps may be completed in a different order; however, all 14 EWGs in this study fall somewhere on this timeline. Identifying the champion needs to occur at the begin- ning of the selling phase. Participation in an on-site 1- or 2-day NTSB family assistance work- shop would be productive at any point in the first year, but ideally it would be a kick-off event for starting an EWG. Although it does not appear on the timeline in Figure 3, the continuous improvement process can profitably be applied to the EWG at all stages. Challenges, Barriers, and Solutions In Chapter 2, Tables 5 and 6 list the challenges and barriers faced by developing and mature EWGs, respectively. The tables include measures that airports and EWGs have used to overcome the challenges. The one issue that all 14 EWGs have faced and remain frustrated by is the diffi- culty in convincing airlines with small footprints at the airport to make time to participate in the EWG and to contribute. None of the EWGs reported satisfaction with their attempted solutions to this issue, but all of them continue to seek participation of 100% of their airlines. For all the other challenges, the basic solutions have been to show value through training, improved family assistance planning, enhanced emergency preparedness, and better relationships. Figure 3. Timeline for EWG development. FA = family assistance. 0 6 12 18 24 30 36 Months