The National Academies

NCHRP 20-59(18) [Completed]

Guidelines for Transportation Emergency Training Drills and Exercises

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Research Agency: McCormick Taylor, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Annabelle Boyd
Effective Date: 7/21/2004
Completion Date: 10/15/2005


Emergency preparedness is necessary to maximize the safety and security of passengers, employees, and emergency responders, as well as the general public, when an emergency event occurs that involves vehicles or infrastructure (including power supplies and communications links) of transportation systems in the United States. Preparedness requires a significant amount of planning and the involvement of all members of the emergency community including law enforcement, fire services, emergency management agencies, and emergency medical services. The result should be a detailed plan for responding to a variety of anticipated events and, to a reasonable degree, unexpected events.

Many transportation systems have developed and conducted effective drills and exercises for years and, as a result, have defined and refined their plans and capabilities. However, not all transportation agencies have participated in well-planned drills. Consequently, guidelines and tools are needed to aid in the design, development, and implementation of a range of training drills and exercises.


The objective of this project is to develop a guide for use by transportation drill and exercise coordinators. The guide shall support activities that are multimodal and scalable and that exercise transportation systems, including transportation employees, other responders, and other affected entities. The exercises program will cover preparedness activities to prevent, respond to, and recover from threatened and actual domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

The guide will be used to (1) develop multimodal, multi-agency exercise-program objectives, (2) design and manage individual drills and exercises, (3) manage the evaluation of exercises and the development of after-action reports and recommendations, and (4) identify resources available to support development and execution of the drill program.

Accomplishment of the objective will require at least the following tasks.


Task 1. Conduct a review of the available literature and guidelines on the design, development, conduct, and implementation of training drills and exercises for application to multimodal transportation systems.

Task 2. Identify illustrative institutional resources available at the state and local levels (e.g., offices of emergency management; police and fire departments; annual hospital exercise coordinators; other departments at the state level; and airport, corrections industry, and nuclear industry drill coordinators) for developing and conducting drills and exercises.

Task 3. Submit an Interim Report on the results of Tasks 1 and 2.

Task 4. Establish lists of common and specific objectives to be addressed through emergency drills and exercises. Such objectives may include learning objectives, relationship-building objectives, response times, level of participation anticipated, number of organizations, executive (policy or strategic) or working level (tactical) exercises, and metrics that will be required to assess progress in meeting the objectives. One way of organizing objectives is by Emergency Support Functions (as identified in the Federal Response Plan: Interim at https://www.fema.gov/rrr/frp/). Evaluation instruments are available from the Office for Domestic Preparedness.

Task 5. Develop a typology for the various drills and exercises, including tabletop; minimal personnel and equipment involvement; and maximum involvement and integration of all emergency response agencies, including transportation systems and their employees. The typology should address the scale of drills (e.g., weapons of mass destruction and the arrival of multiple federal agencies, tabletop, command post, field exercises) reflecting the coordination complexity of incidents from local agency to regional, state, corridor, or multistate level. While the typology may include incidents of national scale, the guidelines developed in this project are to extend only to the multi-state scale.

Task 6. Submit Interim Report 2 providing the results of Task 4 and 5.

Task 7. Generate detailed guidelines for activities necessary to plan, design, implement, and evaluate drills and exercises employing the typology developed in Task 5. Include tools to assist in the development of emergency scenarios (i.e., checklists, software).

Task 8. Submit a Preliminary Draft Final Report that documents the entire research effort and includes the Task 7 guidelines as a stand-alone document.

Task 9. Submit a Revised Final Report.

Note on Funding: NCHRP funded this project with $100,000, and TCRP Project J-10C co-funded this project with a matching $100,000.

Status: Completed. The final report was published as TCRP Report 86/NCHRP Report 525, Volume 9: Guidelines for Transportation Emergency Training Exercises.

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