Emergency Preparedness and Transportation Security
Events in recent years have heightened awareness of regional emergency preparedness. In addition to the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, the Washington region has experienced a series of sniper shootings, anthrax incidents, hurricanes, an earthquake and other emergencies. With its world prominence and its many visible symbols of democracy, the Washington region remains a target for terrorism and other attacks. These events and circumstances serve as reminders the region must be as prepared as possible to respond to emergencies and disasters.
Transportation plays multifaceted roles in incidents and emergencies. Every day, transportation agencies handle incidents such as crashes and breakdowns on their systems. The need for coordination among transportation agencies during incidents having multi-jurisdictional or regional impacts fostered creation of the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination (MATOC) Program. The MATOC Program aims to advise agencies as they respond to major incidents, through improved technological data sharing systems, coordinated operating and notification procedures, and better availability of transportation information for the public.
Within the regional Homeland Security Program, the region maintains the Regional Emergency Coordination Plan. The Regional Emergency Coordination Plan discusses how the numerous federal, state, and local agencies in the region should communicate and coordinate during emergencies. It builds from but does not replace the emergency response plans that individual jurisdictions must develop. Sections of the Regional Emergency Coordination Plan are designated as Regional Emergency Support Functions (RESFs) 1 through 16, following the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) naming convention. Some of the functional areas included are emergency management, law enforcement, fire, health, public outreach, and, transportation; the emergency transportation function referred to as RESF-1. The dedicated RESF-1 Transportation Chapter in the Regional Emergency Coordination Plan addresses communication and coordination among regional jurisdictions and agencies concerning regional transportation issues and activities before, during and after a regional incident or emergency.
Specialized appendices called annexes are also a part of the Regional Emergency Coordination Plan. Associated with RESF-1 is the Regional Emergency Evacuation Transportation Coordination (REETC) Annex. The REETC Annex describes communication and coordination needs for transportation agencies during large-scale evacuation or shelter-in-place events, and identifies transportation management strategies that might be used. The REETC Annex notes the key consideration to manage demand, urging people not in danger to stay off roads and transit, keeping capacity available for those persons who are endangered (as well as for response personnel). An evacuation event is not purely a transportation issue – it is a multi-faceted occurrence involving public safety, emergency management, human services, and other agencies as necessary. Transportation will serve as one of many support functions under public safety and emergency management leadership of the event.
TPB coordinates with COG's RESF-1 Emergency Transportation Committee that, with police, fire, emergency management, and others, is a part of the COG structure of public safety committees and staff. The RESF-1 Committee plans for and addresses Transportation’s role regarding emergency response, coordination, and recovery during and after a declared emergency or other major event.
For further information on COG's Homeland Security activities and a list of emergency preparedness resources, please visit COG's Homeland Security pages.