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61 Salient Findings Salient findings from the plenary session during the AAAE Conference, SurveyMonkey results, and interviews follow. Although practices vary across the country and at various airports, common themes have presented themselves that prove useful for highlighting in this synthesis. Successful Practices Respondents indicated many successful practices in their AEP practices. Some practices are in the way the airport conducts the AEP review process and some practices are in their inclusion of stakeholders, while others include adding specific annexes to address threats not outlined in the AC. Successful practices include working to better engage stake- holders, including field personnel in the process, and seeking out lessons learned from other airports. Others were more innovative, such as creating a program called Helping All Victims of Emergency in Need (HAVEN) designed to support all victims of any major incident at the airport. Other airports created terminal evacuation playbooks and airport support functions (ASFs) based loosely on the National Response Frameworkâs Emergency Support Functions but tailored to an airport. During an active shooter event, one airport mentioned printing out drawings of the shooter and placing them in tubes for handoff to SWAT teams at the prescribed staging area. Other successful practices include the following: â¢ Instituting smaller drills on key aspects that support overall AEP processes (e.g., biweekly unified command multidiscipline drills or quarterly EOC drills) â¢ Refresher ICS training â¢ Updating of outdated (or nonexistent) plans with attendant training â¢ Engagement of senior leadership to lead by example and enforce accountability â¢ Implementation of a detailed tenant-based severe weather plan that builds upon the weather- related hazard-specific sections in a detailed manner that actually contains diagrams, procedures, and pertinent details for the tenants/airlines on which to use and train their staff AEP review committees and working groups: Airports tend to look for new ways to engage others in the AEP review process. One such practice is the use of an AEP review committee. The committee meets to discuss changes or updates to the AEP, and review documentation from incidents or exercises to determine if there is a need to update plans. The committee is a multidisciplinary group, which provides a broad perspective on changes to emergency plans. C H A P T E R 5 AEP airport emergency exercise, CLT Source: Michael Tobin, CLT
62 Practices in Airport Emergency Plans In one example, committee members consist of airside operations, landside operations, safety, EM, and police and fire as needed. Inclusion of local jurisdictions in AEP development: Airports discussed the benefits of including local agencies in the planning process, providing many examples of this success. Airports dis- cussed the benefits of teaching their local jurisdictions about airport and aviation response. Some localities have developed plans to address aircraft accidents. More importantly, local jurisdictions are learning how to respond to an airport, what to do, and how best to provide support during an emergency. Charlotte Douglas International Airport understood that in the case of an infectious disease at CLT, an inquiry would have to be carried out by not only the airport, but also by the Mecklenburg County Emergency Services Agency, local hospital systems, and Mecklenburg County Public Health. As a result, when the airportâs Communi- cable Disease Response Plan was developed, Mecklenburg County Public Health led the draft of the initial plan. Centennial Airport in Denver works closely with local partners, providing their AEP to local law enforcement, including the sheriffâs offices in both Arapahoe and Douglas Counties (the airport sits within both jurisdictions) and the SMFR, which lends it support in responding to airport and aircraft incidents. Centennial also participates in SMFRâs exercises as well as local emergency management or first responder exercises. Policy group inclusion: Many senior leaders do not have an in-depth understanding of an operational emergency response. Furthermore, when a significant event occurs, they do not know how they fit into the response. However, these leaders also have the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of a large event. Multiple airports interviewed have created training programs for senior leaders with an emphasis on ICS, EOCs, and the role of the policy group in a major event. Public outreach: Airport EMs have made great efforts to be involved in their local EM communities. One example of these efforts is the tendency for airports to attend and speak at EM conferences. This practice provides the opportunity for EMs to learn more about AEPs and airport response. It also allows for networking and collaboration, ultimately building and strengthening relationships. This practice facilitates collaborative communication. Another practice identified was training and exercising the county aviation plan (if one exists), which may mirror the AEP. Using experts to gain stakeholder buy-in: Airports are constantly striving to build buy-in and engagement from stakeholders. One method of successfully achieving this is to bring SMEs into the conversation. An example provided was the use of the CDC to speak with stakeholders during the development of a communicable disease plan. Stakeholder onboarding: Some airports have developed a system and program for introducing new stakeholders to the AEP, EOC, and response processes. This includes stakeholder binders with relevant checklists, phone numbers, and EOC seating arrangements, and is provided to new station managers and other new leaders. EOC tours and one-on-one meetings were also mentioned as facets of programs. Quick reference guides and stakeholder books: Many airports find the AEP to be difficult to use in an operational setting because of the size and complexity of the document. A successful practice used by one airport is the development of quick reference guides, quick-start guides, and checklists for use by anyone working at the incident scene or EOC. The guides include basic information such as phone numbers, maps, and directions for using software. More details on this project are included in the LAS case example in Chapter 4 and in Appendix E. Formalized after-action process: Almost all airports discussed the success of using a formalized process for reviewing improvement items following exercises and incidents. Specific processes
Salient Findings 63 varied, but all reported that having a system for the management of improvements ensured they were reviewed, action was taken, and changes were incorporated into future plans as necessary. Threat/incident specific annexes, plans, or SOPs: Many airports identified the need to develop annexes to complement the AEPs or as SOPs to provide operational guidance to stakeholders. Some airports have included these in the AEP document while others developed plans or SOPs separate from the AEP, and consequently the AEP then references these documents by name. Many airports are also including the term âall-hazardsâ to indicate that these annexes, plans, or SOPs are not specific to any one threat or hazard, but should address any that could affect the airport, its property, or stakeholders. Lessons Learned Airports shared lessons learned about their AEP practices, including making sure to cross- walk the AEP with other airport or jurisdictional plans, creating open dialogue with stakeholders, and conducting a gap analysis to identify supplemental plans needed to fill gaps and holes. Coordinate plan changes with major events: Many major events can impact an airportâs emergency plan(s). These can range from significant updates to other plans to changes to airport initiatives or structures. Changing and updating plans as these events occur help close the gaps between the document and actual operations. If not, response and recovery actions or new tactical operations may be missed and not included in the AEP. Supplemental plans: The importance of supplemental plans has been discussed throughout the surveys, interviews, and case studies. Supplemental plans can fill the gaps left behind from the AEP. Many plans can also be updated more efficiently than the standard AEP without the requirement of FAA approval. A multitude of examples of additional plans have been intro- duced, with some of the most common being active shooter, communicable disease, severe weather and hurricanes, EOC, and family assistance. Without these plans, personnel may be unclear what their roles and responsibilities may be during these specific incidents. Cross-walk plans: Comparing and deconflicting the AEP and supplemental plans with one another helps avoid discrepancies and confirms the plans are reflective of one another. This can also limit confusion and misunderstanding about roles and responsibilities. Airport plans may then also be cross-walked with local, state, or other applicable emergency plans. Meetings and working groups used to achieve this also support the sharing and communication of the plans, as well as strengthening relationships. By cross-walking plans, the airport can also limit or eliminate duplication of information. Transparency: Create an open dialogue with stakeholders and partners. Sharing the AEP and supplemental plans is critical to receiving buy-in. Honesty builds trust and strengthens plans while gaining input from stakeholders with responsibilities contained within the AEP. Enduring Challenges Many successes have been discussed in the preceding sections; however, some challenges persist and are more difficult to overcome. Airports described the following as being the most persistent. Current practices versus current standards: Throughout the survey, respondents indicated the AEP in its current practice no longer meets the needs of airports as a comprehensive, holistic response and recovery document given the many changes in the industry and threats to airports
64 Practices in Airport Emergency Plans over the last 10 years. They found the plan to be too text heavy, narrative based, and hard copy driven. This has a created an enduring challenge that current practices are at odds with current standards. Airports are going above and beyond to fill gaps theyâve identified through AARs, THIRAs, gap analyses, and needs assessments to ensure the AEP, supporting annexes, or all-hazards standalone plans provide actionable information for stakeholders when preparing for, responding to, and recovering from an incident at the airport. Size of document: The size of the document is also mentioned as an inhibitor and enduring challenge to ensuring stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities. Throughout the document, roles and responsibilities are duplicated and redundant, leading to no further value added per threat identified and adding to the size of the document. This then challenges airports with updating all relevant parts on a timely basis as well as ensuring stakeholders have an in-depth and thorough understanding of their role in response and recovery efforts. If everything is important, then nothing becomes important. Varied perspectives: Some respondents indicated that the AEP does not contain sufficient information to be used as a response plan. Given the previous enduring challenge experienced by some respondents that the AEP is too large, others reported that the information contained within was not enough. These differing perspectives about the AEPâthat it does not include enough hazard planningâclearly demonstrates the varying viewpoints and AEP practices from one airport to another. One group believes the document is too large; the other believes that the AEP is not inclusive nor comprehensive enough to be a valuable tool. As a result, both groups may bifurcate their efforts, keeping the AEP up-to-date while maintaining other annexes, SOPs, or all-hazards plans. Transition from airside operations to independent EM programs: Airports also find ongoing challenges with the transition from an airside operations-based emergency program to an independent EM program. Many airport EMs have spent their careers in traditional city, county, or other government environments, then moved into the airport environment. Finding a balance between airport operational priorities and a growing EM program has not always been easy. The approach to AEPs, other emergency plans, and the training and exercising of the plans has shifted as EM becomes more professionalized in the airport environment. In some airports, conflict remains between airside operations and EM over the ownership of the AEP. Stakeholder engagement: Numerous successes and lessons learned have been shared regard- ing stakeholder engagement; however, it remains an ongoing challenge. Time restrictions, competing priorities, and lack of understanding or communication creates the need to continu- ously focus energy and effort toward engaging stakeholders. This challenge resides in both internal airport departments and with external stakeholders. Plan approval and regulations: Much has been said previously regarding the prescriptiveness and restrictiveness of the format and sections included in the AC. Often, additional updates or changes have been identified that need to be incorporated into an airportâs AEP before the previous AEP changes and/or updates have been approved. As a result, some airports will collect all changes and updates for a period of time, then complete one larger update. Consequently, AEPs may not reflect what is occurring operationally.