The National Academies

NCHRP 20-116 [Completed]

An Emergency Management Playbook for State Transportation Agencies

  Project Data
Funds: $800,000
Research Agency: The Louis Berger Group, Inc., a WSP Company
Principal Investigator: Deborah Matherly
Effective Date: 1/28/2020
Completion Date: 7/27/2022
Comments: Phase II: Publication is pending.

NCHRP Research Report 931: A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies, was recently published. Several emergency management courses and generic planning templates are currently available to transportation emergency managers at airports, transit agencies, and state departments of transportation (DOTs), including NCHRP Report 525, Surface Transportation Security, Volume. 16: A Guide to Emergency Response Planning at State Transportation Agencies (2010). Those, together with federal guidance promulgated through Incident Command System/National Incident Management System/Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (ICS/NIMS/HSEEP) doctrine, are necessary, but not sufficient, for ready implementation.
There is a need for a strategy-driven, actionable guide—a playbook—that, with incidental implementation support, will help emergent and part-time transportation emergency managers to understand, plan, and implement an emergency preparedness program that fits their agency’s needs, capabilities, and challenges. Such a playbook will serve as a simple, practical, and comprehensive emergency preparedness program development guide for transportation emergency managers; be generally applicable to all transportation emergency operations centers (EOCs); and be consistent with ICS/NIMS/HSEEP doctrine. A transportation-specific playbook will help close the gap in transportation emergency preparedness and enable quicker and more effective uptake of valuable scenario-based training and exercising tools that help organizations apply prerequisite planning and program development.
Translating strategy from the playbook to the real world (how to do it) is complex, as states vary in how they organize their activities. This project will develop and execute a strategy to effectively bridge the gap between all-hazards emergency management research and state transportation agency practice to improve state transportation agency responses over a broad continuum of emergencies affecting the nation’s travelers, economy, and infrastructure.
The objectives of this project were (1) to develop a playbook to support emergency management program review and development for state transportation agencies and (2) to develop and execute a deployment strategy to familiarize the affected transportation agencies of every state with the playbook and supporting emergency management materials.  The playbook and related products and activities should encompass state DOTs, public transportation systems, and other transportation agencies under state control or influence (i.e., state transportation agencies).

Understanding pandemics, their impacts on transportation, and potential effective response has become more important, not only for the response to COVID-19, but also if, as the World Health Organization warns, we are now “living in a time of viruses.”


TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program and Transit Cooperative Research Program jointly issued A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies (released November 12, 2020), a pre-publication draft of NCHRP Research Report 963/TCRP Research Report 225, which was created to improve transportation agency responses to a pandemic.

The final version of NCHRP Research Report 963/TCRP Research Report 225: A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies was released on April 14, 2021, and can be found at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/26145/a-pandemic-playbook-for-transportation-agenciesTRB has decided to continue to have the pre-publication version available online to ensure that any linkages or references to the publication that might be in use now are not lost.  At the conclusion of the pandemic, the pre-publication version of the publication will be removed from the National Academy Press website.

The Playbook concentrates on what needs to be done, when, and by whom. It briefly addresses planning for a pandemic, a topic addressed in greater depth in NCHRP Report 769: A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response. It summarizes effective practices currently used by transportation agencies based on interviews with state departments of transportation and transit agency leaders and operational personnel, supplemented with national and international research results.


Status: Publication of Phase II is pending.

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