The National Academies

ACRP 04-26 [Pending]

Uncontrolled Terminal Evacuations: Planning, Response, and Recovery

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin

Planning for, managing, and recovery after an emergency event is critical, but it is especially challenging when the incident results in an uncontrolled evacuation of an airport terminal. For events such as fire drills, occupants will generally react in a more controlled and orderly matter when clearing a space and moving to a designated locations. An uncontrolled evacuation is the result of a spontaneous threat to the life of an individual causing the necessary and immediate egress of occupants from the area of the incident. Characteristics of uncontrolled evacuation include mass hysteria, panic, chaotic response, confusion, and self-direction. 
In recent years, uncontrolled mass evacuation events across the United States have shown gaps in the response and recovery from these types of events and airports would benefit from specific guidance in preparing for these types of events. Challenges include the general physical and psychological care of the evacuees, effective critical communication with the general public, managing incorrect information and disinformation, the importance of building trust while effectively communicating, understanding and managing needs and resource distribution, and the recovery and reunification of the evacuees with loved ones and property. Resources may exist for airports, including those provided as a routine service by stakeholders and partners, but airports may be unaware of these available resources and how to leverage them.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook that provides a framework for planning and operating considerations for uncontrolled terminal evacuation events. The guidebook should include scalable and replicable emergency action plan template(s) and checklist(s) for airports of all sizes to develop a plan to manage an uncontrolled terminal evacuation, including guiding evacuees away from the immediate threats, and recover from the event, including subsequent care of the evacuees. Additionally, case studies of events that have actually occurred should be used to identify and demonstrate best practices for airports of representative sizes and characteristics as well as different types of uncontrolled evacuation events. 
Considerations for the guidebook, template(s), and checklist(s) should include, at a minimum:
  • Recovery processes and best practices from uncontrolled terminal evacuation
  • Essential skillsets and the appropriate training for all levels of airport employees and tenants
  • Plan maintenance including plan updates, recurrent training, exercises, and changes in airport operations and configurations
  • Effective communication with employees, tenants, passengers, and mutual responders
  • Movement and flow of evacuees throughout airport facilities and understanding the impact to, and capabilities of, internal and external transportation systems, airport facilities, and public access management
  • Efficient transport of people to safe areas on- or off-site via both internal and external transportation systems 
  • Psychological effects on all evacuees and responders including employees, tenants, passengers, etc.
  • Identifying internal, external, and non-traditional resources, and developing relationships and memorandum of understandings (MOUs) to be able to effectively apply these assets
  • Identifying and leveraging existing processes and systems already in place
  • Physical design elements and capital planning considerations
  • After action reviews and instituting lessons learned
  • Discuss various methods for studying the impacts of these types of events on airport facilities including simulation modeling and providing airports various methods for validating their plans.
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail. 
The research plan should include, at a minimum, the following interim deliverables:
  • Case study plan with proposed case study events and locations, methodology, and proof of concept. Case studies should include a range of operating conditions (e.g., weather, passenger demographics, etc.) and incident types (e.g., active shooter, natural disasters, hazmat, explosive device, etc.). 
  • Plan for validating draft emergency action plan template(s) and checklist(s).
  • Interim Report that describes work done in early tasks, the outcome of the case study plan, outline of the guidebook, and draft emergency action plans template(s) and checklist(s). 
The research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (a) a web-enabled teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of contract execution, (b) one in-person interim deliverable review meeting, and (c) web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate. 
The final deliverables will include:
  • Guidebook including emergency action plan templates(s) and checklist(s);
  • Summary of Key Findings;
  • Further Recommended Research Memo; and
  • Technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.
Status: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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