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Critical Incident Management Guidelines

NCJ Number
Annabelle Boyd; Jim Caton
Date Published
April 1998
142 pages
This document provides practical assistance to transit personnel responsible for planning, managing, and recovering from emergencies and disasters.
While transit systems in the United States have so far not been the focus of political terrorism, they have been targets of nonpolitical “quasiterrorist” acts. Responding to critical incidents is one of the most difficult functions performed in the transit environment. The role of the Emergency Manager is to use a variety of resources, techniques, and skills to reduce the probability and impact of extreme incidents, and to restore facility operations quickly should an emergency occur. Transit agencies have unique status in the emergency response community. Local bus and rail systems are often required to support community efforts during and after a significant crisis, transporting people and goods to safe locations. But transit systems have inherent vulnerabilities that may limit their effectiveness during a crisis. These include possible terrorist disruption of the system and the capability of committing a large number of casualties. Emergency management in the transit environment involves identifying the risks and vulnerabilities; inventorying community resources; outlining the roles and responsibilities of municipal public safety departments; and ensuring coordination and communication among departments, businesses, and volunteer organizations. Recommendations in handling certain situations such as telephone bomb threats, search and evacuation procedures, and detection of chemical and biological agents, are provided. The lines of authority and responsibility for all disaster operations should be clearly delineated. The command function may be conducted in two general ways: single command and unified command. Unified command may be applied when more than one agency shares management responsibility, or when the incident is multi-jurisdictional. Public transit agencies can be a valuable resource to the community in the event of a disaster by being used to protect against the elements and providing temporary shelter. 17 figures, 9 appendices