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Model Mutual Aid Agreements for Airports (2013)

Chapter:Chapter Five - Effective Practices in Developing and Managing Mutual Aid Agreements

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Page 22
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Five - Effective Practices in Developing and Managing Mutual Aid Agreements ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Model Mutual Aid Agreements for Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22542.
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22 Responses to both the synthesis survey and follow-up inter- views associated with the case examples reveal the contours of effective practices for developing and managing mutual aid agreements. In this, the synthesis responses are reinforced and extended by survey and interview results in related studies (Smith, 2010a, c, 2012b). WRITTEN AND VERBAL MUTUAL AID AGREEMENTS This chapter deals primarily with written mutual aid agree- ments. Some airports use both verbal and written agreements; however, in general, written agreements will be more com- prehensive, including all or most of the elements described in this chapter. Verbal agreements’ typically more limited scope may be a response to local or state legal issues or to the nature of traditional relationships. In either case, it is essential that the mutual aid partners trust each other. The practices for developing and managing mutual aid agreements presented in this chapter can promote trust, but professionalism and shared goals are even more important. BENEFITS OF LOCAL MUTUAL AID AGREEMENTS/PLANS The responding airports overwhelmingly said that mutual aid agreements benefit both the airport and the community. This finding is substantiated by the continued existence of mutual aid agreements. The greatest benefit of mutual aid agreements is clarity of expectations: knowing ahead of time what help can realisti- cally be requested and what will be delivered. In this time of increasing budgetary constraints, another welcome benefit of mutual aid is cost reduction: for example, airports and their partners can avoid duplication of specialized equipment or personnel. Joint training, drilling, and exercising also cut costs while improving preparedness of all parties and sustaining mutual aid agreements. Mutual aid agreements yield intangible benefits as well. Mutual respect is enhanced, and parties become more famil- iar with each other’s operations, risks, procedures, and facili- ties. During the agreement process, participants may discover other areas for cooperation. TYPICAL EMERGENCY TYPES CONSIDERED IN THE AGREEMENT/PLAN Any type of emergency can be the subject of an airport mutual aid agreement. In the survey responses, agreements were found for everything from aircraft crashes on or off an airport to snow removal and power outages. A special case occurs when an airport has a predetermined role in a regional disaster that is spelled out in a multiparty, regional, interlocal, or state- wide mutual aid plan. An airport must ensure that nothing in the airport’s promised response will interfere with the airport’s ability to sustain normal or emergency aircraft operations; this type of mutual aid agreement can protect the airport from inap- propriate use (Smith 2010a; Bonnie Wilson, personal commu- nication, Aug. 13, 2012). DESIRABLE ELEMENTS IN MUTUAL AID AGREEMENTS An inventory of characteristics of 24 successful mutual aid agreements evolved from a review of the current literature in tandem with the survey and case example interviews regard- ing mutual aid agreement characteristics and the processes for developing and sustaining the agreements. This list of essen- tial and desirable elements was developed to assist airport executives, their governing boards, and personnel involved in deploying written mutual aid agreements to improve the preparedness and resiliency of the organization. Non-airport mutual aid partners may also employ the list in the process of developing and sustaining effective mutual aid agreements. These 24 elements are incorporated in the checklist for mutual aid agreements in Appendix F, and the checklist can serve as a flight plan for the development of a mutual aid agreement. SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES Mutual aid agreements work best when they are frequently used whether in real-world situations or in training, drills, or exer- cises. Most of the airports surveyed in this study reported having exercised all or some of their mutual aid agreements in the past 12 months. In addition to the beneficial results of the practices described, respondents indicated that effective management practices for airport mutual aid agreements build relation- ships and trust between the airport and its emergency response partners. No written or verbal agreement, no matter how well- crafted, will work unless the participants want it to work. chapter five EFFECTIVE PRACTICES IN DEVELOPING AND MANAGING MUTUAL AID AGREEMENTS

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 45: Model Mutual Aid Agreements for Airports presents information on mutual aid agreements, addressing nearly every type of emergency that could affect airports and require outside resources. The report is designed to assist airport operators in creating and sustaining effective emergency management mutual aid partnerships by documenting the specifics of existing agreements.

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