Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI)

CA: Free Emergency Exercise Handbook for Transportation and Transit Agencies

Transportation and transit agency emergency managers now have access to a free research report and training manual for emergency exercise development and implementation.

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) publication, Exercise Handbook: What Transportation Security and Emergency Preparedness Leaders Need to Know to Improve Emergency Preparedness will help agencies to develop effective and cost-efficient exercises that comply with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy. The publications are available for no-cost, no-registration download at http://transweb.sjsu.edu/project/1103.html. Authors are Frances Edwards, PhD, CEM and Daniel Goodrich, MPA, CEM, MEP.

“Transit and transportation are critical infrastructure because all other emergency response depends on having functional roads and transportation assets available to them,” said Edwards. “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided extensive general guidance on how to develop training and exercise programs for public entities, especially for first responders. But little material has focused on transportation specifically. How can emergency response services be delivered without a functioning transportation sector? This handbook addresses those issues.”

It includes detailed lessons

The handbook includes specific information about federal exercise requirements, including the evolution of federal emergency management policy that affects exercise design requirements in the transportation environment. It is focused on various types of exercises approved by the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) of the DHS, with examples of successful exercise designs, scenarios, and delivery strategies, along with templates for the required documentation.

Checklists are included for each type of exercise, such as workshops, drills, tabletops, full-scale exercises, and more. The roles of the exercise staff are explained, including director, controller, facilitator, and evaluator. Necessary elements are described, such as “hot wash” meetings, After Action Reviews, plans for improvement, and participant feedback.

Actual incidents are used as reference points to help transportation and transit personnel develop the most effective exercises to test plans and evaluate personnel training.

The handbook delivers special value for smaller agencies

When transportation agency personnel were interviewed for another MTI project in 2009-10, they said they had little help in developing a thorough and effective training and exercise program specifically for people in their roles. This handbook gives them guidance materials, templates, and scenarios specific to transit, transportation, and multi-modal port training and exercises.

The exercise handbook is valuable for all transit and transportation agencies, but it will be especially valuable for those agencies in smaller communities without resources for fulltime, professionally trained emergency managers. Most often that role falls to a manager in the maintenance division who is an engineer or safety trainer.

Edwards said, “While no handbook can substitute for professional training, it is clear that personnel assigned to provide the training and exercises often have no resources immediately available to create a successful training and exercise cycle. This handbook provides a blueprint to achieve that goal.”