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Emergency Working Groups at Airports (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Further Research

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Page 32
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Further Research." 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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Page 32
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Further Research." 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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Page 33

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32 Conclusions and Further Research Comparison of Alternative Models Six different theoretical frameworks for promoting collaboration to improve family assistance at airports were presented in Chapter 1. The key concept is collaboration—the frameworks differ in how an airport encourages collaboration. The EWG was the first framework considered in this synthesis, and the EWG concept has been examined in detail in Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and the first two case examples in Chapter 4. An EWG’s expansion is dependent on its trained volunteers—the workforce available to support family assistance functions—especially during the 12 to 24 hours before the legislated airline’s care team can arrive. The EWG approach can provide greater collaboration and improvement in airport and airline preparedness to deliver victim and family assistance services. Therefore, an EWG may be particularly useful to an airport that needs to build or rebuild a collaborative culture. The second framework occurs where a culture of collaboration already exists among all or many of the stakeholders at an airport. This situation appears to indicate that an EWG is not applicable within such a culture. BOS falls into this category, as do DFW and JAX. DEN and Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport (MSP) have most of these cultural attributes but have chosen to develop EWGs. In the third framework, the airport manages emergency response and family assistance 1:1 with each airline. RSW and PNS fall into this category, although RSW has many elements of the second framework. In the fourth framework option, the airport encourages airlines to make airline-to-airline mutual aid arrangements. In the interviews, BOS and PNS were the only airports to report using this framework. In the fifth framework, the airport manages the entire family assistance response during the initial 12- to 24-hour period using its own employees and possibly collaborating with com- munity mutual aid partners. In this study, BOS and DFW reported using this framework. This option requires both a large airport workforce and many strong mutual aid partnerships, some- thing that both BOS and DFW have. Smith (2014) examined the role of mutual aid partners, finding that smaller airports tended to have strong relationships with their partners. The final framework involves the airport using a contractor for the airport family assistance program to supplement the legislated airline’s response. One of the medium-hub airports inter- viewed for this study was considering this framework as of December 2018. It is essentially a variation of the fifth framework. An airport may contract out its entire family assistance pro- gram or just one or more specific aspects of the program. As shown by the overlap in the examples listed for the six frameworks, these approaches may be used in combination or sequentially. C H A P T E R 5

Conclusions and Further Research 33 Conclusions Data from the interviews and the case examples support the following conclusions: • Airport emergency management, including an EWG, is all about building relationships and collaboration. • EWGs can further collaboration and relationships. • EWGs almost always are formed to support family assistance in the case of an aircraft acci- dent, but they can later transition into an all-hazards function. Managing this transition takes careful planning and clear communication of goals and objectives. • At least one strong champion is needed to start an EWG. The champion may be from an airline or from the airport’s staff. • An EWG may be a good idea at any Part 139 airport (see Glossary) if there are needs in the area of family assistance that are not being met by an existing collaborative or airport-only program. • EWGs are workable at an airport dominated by one carrier or at one without a dominant carrier. • The biggest potential beneficiaries of an EWG are airlines with a small footprint or a virtual airline with zero footprint at an airport; these types of airlines feel least able to participate fully in an EWG. • EWGs can be built from the bottom up (e.g., LAX) or from the top down (e.g., HNL). It may be advantageous for an airport to start with a contact from one of its airlines’ corpo- rate emergency preparedness and business continuity office. • After the 18 to 24 months it takes to establish a functional EWG, it will take continuing efforts to sustain the EWG. • EWG training and meeting agendas need to be relevant, with presentations given by subject matter experts from among the EWG members or from potential members. • EWGs function best when clearly structured; such structure may be formal or informal. • Like all preparedness programs, EWGs need the application of the continuous improvement cycle: plan, train, exercise, evaluate, and revise. Gaps and Further Research Needs Gaps and observations found in this study suggest several topics for further research: • 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 emer- gency response plans and strategies. This can provide an opportunity for both airline and support staff and the airports to be familiar with individual corporate emergency response and family assistance plans in the event there is the need for a collaborative response. • Developing metrics and measuring the benefits of EWGs to business continuity, continuity of operations, and emergency preparedness of airports and airlines • Managing an emergency or incident associated with a diversion • Training and professional development of airport emergency managers, which comes from the observation that more than one-third of the airports interviewed for this study have recently hired emergency managers whose main prior experience was not at airports. The hiring of emergency managers from outside the aviation industry appears to be a growing trend with possible significant benefits to airports and their stakeholders.

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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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