Integration of transportation and emergency services: identifying critical interfaces, obstacles, and opportunities
Shepherd, Kristen E.
INTEGRATION OF TRANSPORTATION AND EMERGENCY SERVICES: IDENTIFYING CRITICAL INTERFACES, OBSTACLES, AND OPPORTUNITIES KRISTEN E. SHEPHERD Dissertation under the direction of Professor Mark D. Abkowitz Transportation and emergency services professionals interact in many situations, ranging from routine traffic accidents to large-scale events. Coordination between these groups is essential for effective and efficient response to various types of incidents. The term “emergency transportation operations” (ETO) represents all actions taken in regards to any incident occurring on the transportation infrastructure or requiring use of the transportation infrastructure, in order to protect health and safety. The purpose of this research was three-fold: (1) determine if a need for improvement in ETO exists, the importance of interagency coordination in realizing such improvement, and the associated benefits and challenges of enhancing coordination; (2) determine the impact of organizational factors on coordination and to identify the institutional, operational, technological, and financial factors that impact ETO coordination; and (3) identify short term initiatives that could improve coordination, as well as explore the potential for change agents based on organizational design theory that would result in long term ETO improvement. The findings from this research support the hypothesis that improvements in ETO are needed, and better coordination between transportation and emergency services is necessary. This research also concluded that institutional, operational, technological, and financial changes are necessary to improve ETO. In the short-term, the most important and feasible initiatives to improve coordination are (1) including more transportation topics in training for emergency response personnel and vice versa, perhaps through new interagency training programs; (2) increasing participation in multi-agency operations planning for all types of hazards; and (3) improving interoperability of communication and other information technologies. Greater coordination between these groups will only occur if organizational changes are made that induce ETO organizations to work together, sharing a common vision and objectives for success. Potential organizational design changes to improve coordination include implementing the functional design with horizontal linkages organizational structure, including such devices as shared information systems, task forces, full-time integrators, and teams. Furthermore, the Keiretsu model for multi-organizational relationships may offer added ETO coordination.