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A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies (2021)

Chapter: Chapter 2 - Key Questions to Ask

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Page 9
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Key Questions to Ask." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26145.
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Page 9
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Key Questions to Ask." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26145.
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Page 10
Page 11
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Key Questions to Ask." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26145.
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Page 11

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9 Key Questions to Ask In a pandemic, a transportation agency has three overarching goals: 1. Maintaining staff health and safety—without a safe and healthy staff, there is no response. 2. Maintaining transportation as an essential service to support the community and the supply chain. 3. Developing data­driven, agile, flexible responses to the existing and future situations. The response to a pandemic must address local, state, and federal actions that affect travel demand, such as stay­at­home or lockdown orders or requirements for nonpharmaceutical interventions to prevent the spread. Over time, the reopening of businesses and increase in social activities can also have an impact on transportation services. Additional protocols may be required, such as screening of staff and patrons for symptoms, face coverings, and social distancing. A series of decisions must be made to assist an agency in determining its responses and achieving its goals—from policy and priority decisions that drive staffing and resource decisions to determining triggers and timing of actions to take and addressing long­term financial and other implications. Asking the right questions creates the perspective necessary to focus on the ability to quickly adapt and return to service and withstand short­ and long­term impacts of the pandemic. Table 3 summarizes the types of decisions that need to be made with questions that address aspects to consider as those decisions are being made. Table 4 provides a matrix of key questions by mission area that can assist agencies in devel­ oping policies, strategies, and approaches to effectively address a pandemic and related plays in Chapter 5 of the Playbook. C H A P T E R 2 Table 3. Types of questions and considerations regarding critical agency areas. Type of Question Considerations Critical Areas Policy Does the agency have policies established to address the situation? What additional agency policies must be put in place? How does the agency align its policies with state and local policies, if necessary? Are communications protocols and information management in place with health agencies? Human resources, finance, COOP, ESF-1 Priorities What are the agency’s mission-essential functions? Are additional mission-essential functions required? How does the agency support community essential services? Agency, ESF-1, supply chain, community (continued on next page)

10 A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies Mission Area Category Key Questions Related Plays Preparedness Disease characteristics and threat Severity—virulence, duration Transmission—modes Potential impact Monitoring—onset, asymptomatic percentage Screening—overt signs, methods Plans, Training, and Exercises Employee Impact Plans, standard operating procedures Who is your organization dependent upon to get things done? When is it time to dust off plans? When is it time to confirm and revisit priorities and essential functions? Are there known alternative locations for maintaining operations, including working from home? What risks—including concurrent risks— are there? Plans, Training, and Exercises Personnel How and when should essential personnel be determined? Has a crosswalk been done? Who has been cross-trained? Employee Impact Coordination Are there state- or community-deemed essential functions? What information is needed? How do you communicate if things change? Situational Awareness and Reporting Table 4. Key considerations by mission area. Type of Question Considerations Critical Areas Triggers What are the criteria or trigger points for initiating specific actions or implementations? When should plans be implemented? When should staff restrictions or service reductions occur? When should the agency stand up the EOC? When should it support local EOCs and joint information centers? Agency operations, COOP, ESF-1 Staffing Who are essential staff? Are additional staff needed? How does the agency maintain staff health and safety? All Resources Are supplies adequate to address needs? Is there technology in place to support the situation? Management, emergency management Timing What is the estimated duration of the event? Are phased approaches possible? What are the elements in each phase? All Finance Are there budget issues to address? Are there opportunities available? Agency operations, construction, and maintenance Table 3. (Continued).

Key Questions to Ask 11 Communications What information is needed? For which audiences? What format and frequency should be used to relay information? Who speaks for the department? Is there a clear order of who speaks and under what circumstance? What role does the governor, state emergency manager, or others play before the agency communicates with the outside world? Communications Tools and technology What existing tools are available? What new/additional capabilities can be made available? All Recovery Restoration possible? When is after? Is a phased approach possible? Who does what? Agency Stabilization Stabilization How should continuing long-term impacts be handled? Agency Stabilization Public confidence What is needed to ensure public confidence in safety? Restore Public Confidence Lessons learned On the basis of after-incident reports, what changes need to be considered for the next incident? Situational Awareness and Reporting Mission Area Category Key Questions Related Plays Protection/ Mitigation Countermeasures What types are available? Is guidance available? Is guidance agreed to by experts? Pandemic Protective Actions Mitigation What additional capabilities are available? Have alternatives been identified? Pandemic Protective Actions Response Activation What levels of activation are there? Stand- by, alert, monitoring, activate? What supplies should the agency stock up on? When should plans be activated? When should an Incident Command Center or unified command be implemented? Traffic Management Planning, Training, and Exercises Tracking When should accounting codes, oversight, and function/resource tracking be established? What data and reports should be produced? Financial Management Supply chain What functions, services, and locations are critical to the supply chain? Does the agency have the preincident waivers or approvals needed to respond to the incidents and subsequent events? Traffic Management Community What community needs are affected or unmet? Are agency resources available to support community needs? Situational Awareness and Reporting Table 4. (Continued).

Next: Chapter 3 - Key Players and Agencies »
A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies Get This Book
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 A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies
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Understanding pandemics, their impacts to 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 have jointly issued NCHRP Research Report 963/TCRP Research Report 225: A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies, which was created to improve transportation agency responses to a pandemic.

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.

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