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25 Case Examples Five airports were selected as case examples to present the basic patterns of EWGs and alterna- tive approaches. LAX has a fully realized EWG, modeled on SFOâs EWG. SEA has an EWG and an outside consultant is facilitating its development. BOS, RSW, and PNS do not have EWGs. BOS relies on a long-standing culture of collaboration and has an airport-only team to support victim and family assistance. RSW and PNS deal with victim and family assistance on a 1:1 basis with each airline, using common-use gates and equipment to optimize an airport-directed response. BOS, RSW, and PNS have notably strong relationships with local mutual aid partners. Other airports resembling each case example will be noted where appropriate. Los Angeles International Airport LAX has 69 separate airline operators, of which 56 are non-U.S. carriers. Many airlines have only one or two flights a day, but these are often wide-body aircraft with many passengers. Some airlines have small staffs on-site or no airline employees on-site, and they depend on con- tracted ground handlers for customer service. Many airline headquarters are a great distance from Los Angeles, and airline family assistance teams may take 12 to 24 hours to arrive. The airport has seven separate terminals, all managed by the airport but each with a separate TSA manager and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) manager. Prior to the formation of the EWG, the terminals had different policies and procedures for screening family and friends after an aircraft incident. The first achievement of the EWG was to leverage airline and airport collaboration with TSA and CBP, resulting in standardized procedures across all seven terminals (LAX, B. Welch interview, 9/17/18). This is an example of the benefit of bringing airline and airport perspectives together. In addition to the screening issue, the main goals that led LAX to form its EWG were to build relationships and to increase collaboration. The EWG initially focused on aircraft accidents but is now in the process of expanding its focus to include all-hazards. There was no formal gap analysis that led to the EWG, but LAX did vulnerability assessments that it shared with airlines and the EWG. LAX was the second airport to form an EWG and benefitted from SFOâs experience through shared documentation and staff and airline visits in both directions. Like SFO, LAX had an airline representative as its champion. Although the interviewees described the EWG as being informal, it is chaired by an airline station manager, who had been the champion, and the cochair is from the LAX emergency management staff. The champion and the airportâs emergency management and operations staff performed many of the outreach methods listed in Table 3. There were original presentations by the champion to the other airlines at LAX (see Appendix E for one of these presentations). There is also a written EWG manual (see Appendix F), which was based on C H A P T E R 4
26 Emergency Working Groups at Airports the EWG workbook originally developed by the SFO EWG. A sample meeting agenda is available (see Appendix G), as is the list of guest speakers since 2016 (see Appendix H). The LAX EWG has never been activated. It can be activated by either the chair or the cochair. It meets quarterly and also has other short meetings whenever the need arises. The EWG is now included in all airport drills and exercises that include simulated mass casualties. The LAX EWG has had strong support from the airportâs emergency management staff, par- ticularly in the areas of communication, specialized training, and exercise development and implementation. More than 200 people from 26 airlines have been trained in the EWGâs family assistance support roles. The five family assistance support roles for which the airport provides training are scribes, runners, escorts, family registration, and phone duty. The airport emergency managers maintain a text group for the EWG and the trained volun- teers and they are considering a separate notification group for the EWG. The text group has been tested twice with table-top exercises. LAX has not written its EWG into the AEP or ASP, but the EWG has been written into all appropriate standard operating procedures. The EWG has not yet been incorporated into the airport EOC, but it will probably eventually be put into the Family Assistance Group of the Terminal Operations Branch. At the time of the interview, 40 airlines had attended at least one EWG meeting, 30 airlines were active in the EWG, and as already noted, 26 airlines have had people complete the EWG family assistance training. The airportâs and the EWGâs goal is to have 100% participation. In addition to airlines, the EWG has members from the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Police Department, TSA, CBP, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), concessionaires, service providers, mobility providers, and one fixed-base operator (FBO). Other organizations attend when special topics are on the agenda (e.g., the American Red Cross and local hospitals). EWG members use their âone accessâ badges but have a âcriticalâ icon on the badges. The EWG does not have any formal memorandum of agreement or memorandum of under- standing (MOA or MOU) with outside groups, but it plans to develop a formal relationship with Gateway LA, which is the association of the hotels neighboring the airport. The purpose of the MOA is to line up hotels for family assistance activities. This was the only agreement directly with an EWG found in the interviews. Liability was a concern during EWG formation, but the issue was resolved through clarity of the mission statement and by having a written manual. Reimbursement has never been an issue. LAX and its airlines have seen the benefits of the EWG. The EWG has enhanced understanding and collaboration between the airport and its airlines, among the airlines, and between airport departments. Mutual understanding of roles in emergency management has been increased. The airport and airlines have benefitted from having the airportâs emergency managers and opera- tions staff members participate in airline table-top exercises. The EWG has continued to evolve as more and more parties have taken interest in it (LAX, K. Demers e-mail, 12/11/18). Airport stakeholders have started to consider the EWG as another part of the LAX workforce. Overall preparedness has been enhanced. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport SEA calls its EWG the passenger and airport stakeholder assistance group (PASAG, pro- nounced âpassageâ). PASAG is unique among the 14 EWGs in that it serves the airport and the cruise line terminal, both of which are part of the Port of Seattle. Thus far, its focus has been
Case Examples 27 on the airport but a major cruise line participated with the EWG in the most recent airport exercise. SEA has 30 separate airline operators, of which 20 are non-U.S. carriers. As at LAX, some of the airlines have only one or two flights a day, but these are often wide-body aircraft with many passengers. Two issues led the airport to want to establish PASAG: (1) the need to help small-staffed air- lines, and (2) a desire to standardize processes to support any carrier that needs it. SEA hired a consultant who had extensive prior experience with family assistance for an airline and for airports. The consultant urged SEA to host a 2-day NTSB transportation disaster assistance family assistance workshop. It was open to all airlines and other interested stakeholders and was attended by about 100 people. The workshop led to the presentation of the EWG concept to a stakeholders meeting that had 60â70 attendees. The formation of PASAG ensued. PASAG appears to have benefitted from having at least two champions, one from the corporate emer- gency preparedness and business continuity unit of an airline that has its headquarters there and one from the consultant. A new hire in the airportâs emergency management and train- ing department now seems to be a third champion. Additionally, three other airlines have strongly advocated for the program, making presentations at stakeholder meetings and at the airportâs annual table-top exercise. SEA is also unique among the 14 airports for having hired an outside consultant to assist with the development of the EWG and later to develop specialized training for it. In addition to the workshop, SEA and the PASAG champions have made presentations to the monthly station managers meeting, sent quick blurbs via e-mail to the station managers, provided airport volunteers to help airlines train on their emergency and family assistance plans, invited airline employees to observe airport exercises, and invited airline personnel to participate in the airportâs annual table-top exercise. The airport and its consultant prepared a brochure to introduce airlines and other potential members to PASAGâs mission, character- istics, and functions (see Appendix D). In its first 18 months, PASAG has focused entirely on victim and family assistance, and its first task was to draft the airportâs family assistance plan. At the time of the inter- views in October 2018, PASAG had the Friends and Relatives Center (FRC) plan in draft, the Passenger Gathering Area (PGA) plan draft nearly complete, and work on the Reuni- fication Center just beginning. PASAG was planning a FRC exercise. Once PASAG has the capabilities to support the regulatory family assistance tasks associated with aircraft accidents, the intention is to broaden its role to be all-hazards, but this will be done stepwise. PASAG has an informal structure with no chair or cochair. Initially, an airport emergency manager and the consultant jointly facilitated the monthly meetings, but this facilitation role has now transitioned to a member of the airportâs emergency management staff. Once the family assistance planning effort is complete, PASAG will probably meet less often, perhaps quarterly. SEAâs goal is to have all of its airlines participate in PASAG. At present, six or seven airlines participate steadily, and several others come and go depending on flight schedules. PASAG has tried moving meeting times around to accommodate airline flight schedules, but this move has not been successful in increasing meeting attendance. Members of PASAG, in addition to airlines, include members of SEAâs emergency manage- ment and operations departments, the American Red Cross, and the local public health depart- ment. Other organizations, for example local law enforcement, TSA, CBP, FBI, the medical
28 Emergency Working Groups at Airports examiner, and members from Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, may join meetings when special topics are on the agenda. PASAG has no agreements (MOA or MOU) with outside organizations, but PASAG benefits from SEAâs strong relationship with the American Red Cross and the regional hospital coalition (Northwest Healthcare Response Network). When supporting a family assistance response, PASAG members will wear distinctive vests. PASAG members will not go to the accident site, only to the PGA and FRC. At present, yellow vests clearly labeled with âFRC Volunteerâ are used, but the plan is to have different colored vests for each family assistance role. The airportâs Conference Center is an ideal facility for an FRC. It has large rooms that can be partitioned off, smaller meeting rooms for leadership and responders, and a single point of entry that is easy to secure. The airportâs Conference Center manager has been involved in PASAG and understands the needs and objectives of the FRC. SEAâs facilities and maintenance departments have practiced putting up the extensive pipe-and-drape needed to ensure privacy, as the walkway outside the conference rooms would otherwise be visible to the public and media. The Port of Seattle has equipped the main gathering room with 50 landlines and phones. A secure stock of supplies such as comfort items, childrenâs items, and office supplies are available for any airlineâs use if the FRC is activated. The American Red Cross has provided 400 hygiene kits that are stored at the airport. This focused effort on standardization will enable the FRC to be up and running quickly and efficiently even if an airline has insufficient staff to respond in the first 12 to 24 hours (SEA, S. Warner-Bean e-mail, 12/9/18). A training program for PASAG is the next step and will be created as soon as the family assis- tance plan is complete. A full-scale exercise in October 2018 tested the family assistance plan, including PASAGâs roles. The exercise revealed gaps in the plan that will be used to guide plan revisions. PASAG has never been activated. The Port Emergency Coordination Center (essentially an EOC) will activate PASAG at the request of the legislated airline. When activated, PASAG is represented in the Family Assistance Branch of the Strategic Operations Section and in the âAdditional SMEsâ box on the EOC organizational chart (see Figure 1). Self-deployment of PASAG volunteers has been considered as a possible issue but determined to be unlikely because their PASAG duties sit atop their regular duties and because ICS training strongly discourages self-deployment. The greatest challenges faced have been increasing the number of airlines that participate, gathering emergency and family assistance plans from the airlines, finding ways to extend family assistance training beyond PASAGâs core group (the six to seven airlines that regularly attend monthly meetings), and finding time. Hiring the consultant appears to have helped mitigate these challenges. Liability and reimbursement have not come up as issues. Although PASAG is still in its initial development phase, six major benefits of its formation have been identified: â¢ Building community â¢ Building connections â¢ Reassuring airlines and airport customers that help is available â¢ Providing a no-fault sounding board â¢ Standardization of family assistance procedures, facilities, and resources â¢ Preparing to work together toward the same goal by having a plan in place and training on it
Case Examples 29 Boston Logan International Airport BOS has 41 separate airline operators, of which 32 are non-U.S. carriers. As at LAX and SEA, many airlines have only one or two flights a day, but these are often wide-body aircraft with many passengers. Some airlines have small footprints at BOS in terms of on-site airline employees. BOS did not consider forming an EWG because the purposes and benefits of an EWG were already present at the airport. Three factors appear to account for this: (1) a strong culture of collaboration among all stakeholders at BOS that dates back to the immediate aftermath of 9/11; (2) being one of the first airports to create an airport family assistance program; and (3) a policy of strongly urging airline-to-airline mutual aid for family assistance. The Culture of Collaboration The centerpiece of BOSâs culture of collaboration is the daily morning brief that has occurred at 8:30 a.m. every day since 9/11. Originally, the morning brief consisted of airport leadership, air- port department heads, and the local heads of agencies (TSA, CBP, CDC, FBI, Massachusetts State Police) that are airport stakeholders. The airportâs Director of Aviation presided. Attendance was usually 15 to 20 people, and the brief lasted less than 30 minutes unless something unusual was happening or expected to happen. The person presiding went department by department and agency by agency asking if there was anything the group needed to know that day. People with an issue spoke up and stated what help or accommodation would be needed. Focus was maintained on solutions, not on problems. People in the same room coordinated and solved problems. From its beginning, the morning brief has been all-hazards and has always been con- ducted as a fault-free forum. Gradually, airline station managers and other major stakeholders began attending the morning briefs. Today, attendance may reach 150 people, but meetings still usually last less than 30 minutes. The procedure is still the same, and the no-fault nature of the session has been preserved. Short-term groups tend to come together for specific objectives. Such working groups always include airlines. New station managers, new key agency personnel, and significant visitors are introduced at the morning brief. The details of the morning brief are given to each new station manager when he or she arrives at BOS. The same in-brief explains the culture of collaboration at the airport and what the airline can expect from the airport, other airlines, agencies, and other stakeholders. BOS prepares and distributes an annual comprehensive training program to which all partners are invited. Examples of this training are ICS courses and active shooter procedures. Partners are heavily involved in planning and training for exercises, which further builds relationships among partners. The researcher attended the morning brief on several occasions over the past eight years and noted the absence of side conversations, cell phone use, and impatient body language. Attendees paid close attention, and many took notes. Evidence that this is a cultural phenomenon and not a matter of personalities or mechan- ics includes the longevity of the morning brief (18 years and going strong) despite retirements and staff turnover, the breadth of participation among airlines and other stakeholders, and the quality of response when something happens. For an excellent description of how BOS is special, see McGeehanâs (2018) article comparing BOSâs recovery from the February 2018 snowstorm with that of a rival airport hit by the same storm.
30 Emergency Working Groups at Airports The Airport Family Assistance Program BOS was one of the first airports to start an airport family assistance program to support the early stages of an airline response. Starting around 2000, the airport took the lead in preparing spaces and procedures for family assistance that any airline could choose to use. This decision was driven by 90% of its passengers having Boston as their origin or destination (i.e., BOS is an overwhelmingly origin and destination airport). BOS has a formal family assistance program that follows NTSB guidelines. The legislated airline must request BOSâs help. Given that request, BOS will initiate its Family Assistance Plan so that passengers and friends and relatives are quickly provided a private space and initial services. Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) will provide initial support and logistical services but the plan is only intended to sustain family assistance during the 12 to 24 hours it takes the legislated airlineâs team to arrive. Through the new carrier in-brief and annual training, BOS ensures that foreign carriers know their U.S. legal responsibilities for family assistance. The family assistance program has approximately 70 trained volunteers who are all Massport employees. A sample BOS family assistance training workshop agenda is available in Appendix I. Mechanisms to Encourage Airline-to-Airline Mutual Aid BOS encourages small-staffed carriers to align themselves with other airlines. This encourage- ment is cultural but is not written into tenant agreements. Alliance-member airlines are expected to help other members of their alliance. New nonalliance airlines are strongly urged to make arrangements for family assistance with another airline that has a strong presence at the airport. BOS has found this voluntary airline-to-airline mutual aid arrangement to be effective. Southwest Florida International Airport RSW is a medium-hub airport with 10 separate airline operators, of which three are non-U.S. carriers. RSW is an O&D airport. RSW was initially selected as a case example for this study because it experiences many flight diversions due to weather at other Florida airports, and the EWG approach might be useful for handling passengers from these diversions. However, most of the diversions are gas and go. A few of the diversions require passengers to deplane and to go through CBP before being bused to their original destination. On the rare occasion when passengers from nontenant airlines have been stranded by a diversion, airport staff has stepped up to arrange meals and lodging. RSW does not have an EWG. The station managers have an active Station Managerâs Council and work together on issues at all times. The airport meets monthly with the station managers, and this meeting covers general airport issues, safety, and security but typically does not include any discussion of emergency or AEP topics. The airportâs senior operations manager for emergency operations, training, and safety programs attends about four airline safety meetings a month; sometimes emergency topics come up in these 1:1 sessions with airlines. The airport reviews air- line emergency and family assistance plans when an airline asks, and all airline plans are reviewed annually at the airportâs stakeholder meeting. RSW has a family assistance plan that only includes Lee County Port Authority staff. Its purpose is to support the airline staff and families until the airlineâs care team arrives. Training on a variety of emergency topics is held periodically, averaging about three times per year.
Case Examples 31 As noted by Lisa LeBlanc-Hutchings, with RSW, âWe are small and play well together infor- mally. Each is committed to helping the otherâ (e-mail, 9/13/18). As at BOS and JAX, the airport has nurtured a culture of collaboration. Pensacola International Airport PNS has six separate airline operators, and none of them are non-U.S. carriers. All six carriers are mainline and have airline employees handling passenger services. PNS is an O&D airport. Part of the airport emergency plan involves the establishment of a family assistance area. PNS has a designated room in the terminal that airport staff will set up. The airport has arrangements with the American Red Cross, ministerial groups, and mental health professionals who may be contacted to assist in the family assistance area. The on-airport family assistance area will be used until the affected airline is able to set up its off-airport family assistance center (PNS, D. Flynn e-mail, 12/11/18). PNS has strong working relationships with its airlines and works 1:1 with them on emergency and family assistance matters. âAll six airlines have always agreed that they would step up if one of them is overwhelmed by circumstances. Everyone must have the same goal of protecting the people passing through the airport. Get the right people together so decisions can be made in a timely and responsible mannerâ (PNS, D. Flynn interview, 9/25/18). The airportâs EOC coordi- nates response activities. If circumstances change, PNS may reconsider an EWG, but for now, its cultural approach has been effective. CID, TUL, and TUSâthe other small-hub airports in the studyâgave similar responses.