Guidance for Access Control System Transitions: Ross & Baruzzini Collaborates on PARAS 0030 Report

As we conclude our PARAS series, we’re exploring how PARAS 0030 provides an overview of the considerations and process used as part of an Access Control System (ACS) transition. The report provides a roadmap for airports that are considering replacing or upgrading their existing ACS and aims to help reduce associated risks and costs.

Establishing ACS Transition Framework 

The report highlights that as an airport’s security, business, and operational needs evolve, and as regulations change and technology change, airports are eventually confronted with the question of whether their ACS needs to be upgraded or replaced.

Implementation and integration of a new or upgraded ACS is a complex, costly, and operationally impactful process for airport operators and security managers. Once upgrading or replacing the ACS is under consideration, airport managers must address how to transition their ACS, so it meets the airport’s requirements in an efficient and cost-effective manner with minimal risks and impacts to badged airport employees.

It is important that decision-making for these activities be supported by detailed guidance that allows operators to consider the complex conditions, risks, and best practices associated with access control technology selection, procurement, and implementation. 

PARAS 0030 is focused on helping airports effectively navigate the transition of the ACS. Its overall objective is to provide practical information and guidance that will help airports of all sizes address these challenges through research, lessons learned, and best practices, and includes the following:

  • Project Scoping and Planning
  • Pre-Procurement
  • Technical Design
  • Procurement and Solicitation
  • Implementation and Integration
  • Preparing for Operations and Maintenance
  • Future Planning

The guidance addresses TSA regulatory requirements and considerations as well as the impact on badging office staff and the multitude of badged airport employees. It also details the evolution of ACS technology and the interrelated topics of data protection of personally identifiable information (PII), biometric technology, and data privacy.

Bringing Thought-Leadership to Airport Security

As our Aviation team has worked with these types of systems and transitions for several decades, we have the breadth of experience to guide clients through the ACS process. 

In addition, we have experience not only in the United States but also at airports around the world, allowing us to be a single source of best practices. This includes advanced security practices and equipment being applied at a wide variety of airports under both TSA jurisdiction as well as ICAO. 

Schedule your one-on-one with our team, and let’s help plan your next ACS.

Airport Security Assessments: Ross & Baruzzini Selected to Develop PARAS 0016 on Threat, Risk, and Vulnerabilities

In Part 1 of our PARAS series, we examined the Guidance for Airport Perimeter Security report with our Aviation team’s unique approach to perimeter security based on our clients’ unique profiles and operations.

For Part 2, we’re taking a closer look at PARAS 0016: Airport Security Vulnerability Assessments and how we use this research to support the first-ever, airport-specific risk assessment methodologies.

As an additional outcome of this research, we provided insight on assessing risks presented by natural hazards and evaluated long-range climate change issues in the aviation sector and other critical infrastructures.

Practical Research and Tools for Airports of All Sizes

The risk assessment methodology developed under PARAS 0016 consists of customized tools for small, medium, and large airports to allow airport managers to assess risk effectively, regardless of airport size and resources. Using these customized tools, this report provides step-by-step instructions for airport management to:

  • Identify operationally critical asset-threat combinations
  • Assess consequences of threats, probability of threat occurrence, and asset vulnerability
  • Determine an overall risk rating to prioritize risk mitigation

The research also provided guidance on potential strategies to reduce risk, conduct benefit-cost analysis, and perform planning, technology, and infrastructure upgrades accordingly.

While PARAS 0016 was designed as a guidance document giving airport management the right tools to assess risks, completing regular site-wide risk assessments is a daunting task. As this prepared research was built on years of experience, our team can expedite risk assessments while identifying proven mitigation measures to reduce risk across a broad spectrum of hazards and threats.

We understand the regulatory environment within the aviation sector and collaborate with government stakeholders in identifying procedural measures to reduce risk while maintaining compliance with TSA and FAA regulations.

In addition to risk assessment, our consulting services support the three primary mitigation measures including:

  • Physical infrastructure upgrades
  • Technology upgrades
  • Process/procedure modifications

Our engineering team uses assessment results to design physical security and technology measures to reduce risk while supporting procurement and project management during installation or construction. Similarly, our security and emergency planning professionals develop hazard-, threat-, and function-specific plans while providing training and emergency exercises to build competencies among airport personnel assigned to implement new procedures.

For example, Senior Resiliency Consultant, Michael Steinle wrote the After-Action Report and Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) on behalf of the Broward County Aviation Department following the active shooter incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2017. This report outlines the event responses to constructively assess strategic and tactical operations while identifying issues and challenges specific to this incident.

Experience and Specialized Planning Makes the Difference

PARAS 0016 represents the first airport-specific comprehensive risk assessment methodology and embodies the collective experience of people who are invested in the success of aviation worldwide. 

Ross & Baruzzini offers a wealth of experience in conducting risk assessments and mitigation services across a broad spectrum of critical infrastructures. This experience allowed us to apply a practical, airport-realistic approach to the PARAS 0016 methodology and adjust the process to support airport-specific analysis.  

Beyond the assessment phase, our team provides specialized planning and mitigation services, customized for each airport. We are actively involved with clients in assessing active shooter incidents, insider threats, infectious disease response, and many other risks in the airport environment and use this knowledge to customize a solution for each airport.  

We don’t treat our projects as commodities because they aren’t. Every airport is unique, and every project requires its own specialized attention and consideration.  

Let’s discuss your project’s security, schedule your consultation with our team

Stay tuned for the next article in our PARAS series: Guidance for Access Control System Transitions.

Guidance for Airport Perimeter Security: Ross & Baruzzini’s Aviation Team Leads PARAS 0015 Research

The world of Aviation continues to face evolving challenges and advancing airport security best practices is essential to keeping the public safe. To help guide airport operators and managers, our Aviation team regularly contributes as principal investigators, subject matter experts, and project panelists in the Program for Applied Research in Airport Security (PARAS).

In this three-part series, we will dive into three of our PARAS projects:

PARAS 0015 – Guidance for Airport Perimeter Security 

PARAS 0016 – Airport Security Vulnerability Assessments

PARAS 0030 – Guidance for Access Control System Transitions

This research program develops practical solutions to security problems faced by airport operators. PARAS is managed by Safe Skies, funded by the FAA, and modeled after the Airport Cooperative Research Program of the Transportation Research Board. 

Since 1997, Safe Skies has been a trusted resource for decision-makers seeking information on airport security technologies and procedures. Safe Skies’ core services focus on helping airport operators make informed decisions about their perimeter and access control security. 

Resiliency-Building Principles for Physical and Electronic Measures

Airport perimeter intrusions that make the news continue to frustrate airport executives. Our Aviation team conducted research for PARAS 0015, reviewing available literature, technology solutions, physical security solutions, and operational procedures used in concert with the technologies and physical perimeter security measures.

The report highlights that every airport has a unique environment, and the protection of each airport’s perimeter requires measures appropriate to the individual facility.

We help airports define a unique perimeter security approach based on risk profile, environment, operations, and budgetary constraints of the facility. Our comprehensive direction includes: 

  • Project definition
  • Executive management justification
  • Planning/project design
  • Procurement support
  • Project implementation management 
  • Technical oversight support 

With decades of designing, developing, and implementing perimeter security solutions experience, we use our lessons-learned experiences to benefit our clients. We understand that technology alone is not the answer, but a blend of operational procedures, personnel training, and technology/physical measures create a strong foundation for effective airport perimeter security.   

We excel at continuously adapting to changing situations and maintaining an imaginative approach to security. Contact us to help protect your facility against new threats and challenges.

The results of PARAS projects are available to the industry at no charge. All deliverables are electronic, and most can be accessed directly here.  

Stay tuned for the next article in our PARAS series: Airport Security Vulnerability Assessments.

Ross & Baruzzini Aviation Expertise Featured in Rolling Stone Article

Published by Rolling Stone, our Aviation Security Consulting Team worked with the Port of Seattle to provide an After Action Report (AAR) on the incident of The Sky Thief: Beebo Russell’ Last Flight.

The Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, part of Alaska Air’s fleet, which was commandeered by Russell.

On a Friday evening in August 2018, while thousands of Seattle residents were commuting home for the weekend, an unprecedented event happened at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. An airline ground crew employee with no piloting experience stole a commercial aircraft and went on a 70-minute joy ride around the Puget Sound area. Ross & Baruzzini Consultant Michael Steinle was hired by the Port of Seattle to conduct an after action report (AAR) of the airport’s response to the incident. 

The report was delivered to the Port in December 2018 but was not made public. Over the next two and a half years, an investigative reporter from Rolling Stone magazine conducted extensive research into the incident and the man behind it, Richard “Beebo” Russell. 

The Port eventually released the ARR to the reporter who also spoke with the FBI, FAA, military officials, as well as friends and family of Mr. Russell. In June 2021, this thorough article was published giving insight into the man who pulled off something that no one has ever done, and hopefully, no one will ever do again. 

Fortunately, Mr. Russell didn’t want to hurt anyone because if he did, thousands could have died. Less than 10 minutes away, the Seahawks football stadium was packed with spectators for a Pearl Jam concert. The Ross & Baruzzini report is quoted in the Rolling Stone article and played a critical role in analyzing what happened during the incident. To write the report, Michael conducted dozens of interviews with airport personnel directly involved with the event.

Following the completion of the AAR, Ross & Baruzzini was asked to speak at several airport industry events to discuss the report’s findings. It is another example of how our work makes a difference. 

To read the full Rolling Stone article, click here.

Business Resilience & Airport Innovation: Join Ross & Baruzzini at the 2021 SMART Airports Conference & Exhibition

Ross & Baruzzini is a proud silver sponsor for the 2021 SMART Airports Conference & Exhibition. This premier event covers how SMART airports and their adjacent regions are leveraging connectivity to stimulate innovation and opportunity.

2021 SMART Airports Conference & Exhibition leads the way with its innovative, interactive agenda:

  • The most comprehensive community of SMART airports and the regions they serve, focusing on the opportunities and innovations that technology is bringing to environments, communities and cities
  • Up to 500 senior level attendees and decision makers
  • Opportunity to learn from visionary speakers and thinkers
  • Extensive and intimate opportunities to network with this progressive audience across 3 days.

Don’t Miss the Essential Session on Smart Connected Airports

Join the Smart Connected Airports Session on Wednesday, August 18 at 12:00pm CDT with Vice President & Managing Principal Michael Zoia as he discusses technology-driven innovations and airport resiliency. 

Attend Smart Airports 2021 in San Antonio, TX

Register for the 2021 SMART Airports Conference & Exhibition

Additional Q&A from COVID-19 Healthcare Security Webinar

This article was originally published on May 7, 2020 and updated on January 7, 2021.

To help tackle COVID-19 challenges, Ross & Baruzzini is putting together a series of webinars to share industry-tailored insight. In the first episode of the series, aired Thursday, April 30, 2020, host John Desch, Ross & Baruzzini Chief Commercial Officer, along with security experts Bernard J. “Ben” Scaglione, Ross & Baruzzini | Senior Security Consultant, and Daniel Morro, Ross & Baruzzini Principal Security Advisor, discussed immediate next steps, recommended security measures, and the future of Healthcare Security.

Here are answers to participant questions that due to time constraints were unable to be answered during the webinar:

Question: Will we see newly deployed devices at airports/transit/federal sites, such as additional health screening viral breathalizers, for example, for rapid screening for health status; beyond temp?

Answer: Viral breathalizers are being explored as options and underdevelopment as some researchers have argued it is a far more accurate test in that it measures air directly from the lungs where the infection is focused. That said, I would see the implementation issues similar to those with alcohol breathalyzers, the necessity for constant calibration of the device itself, and training for those administering it. 

The keyword is “rapid” screening. There are also possibilities with wearable devices, but again, implementation (as well as cost) is the issue. The functional component of visitor/patient/passenger flow will be the challenge until any of these new technologies can be administered in a timely and efficient manner.

Question: What are some of your clients doing relative to building access and screening of patients and visitors? Are tracking devices being considered?

Answer: Limiting access by closing off unnecessary entrances and passageways. Setting up a pre-registration questionnaire with specific health questions. Tracking (live or historical) is being explored through various technology paths, as well as the associated implications.

Question: What resources do you think are best to rely on currently since many of us hospital executives have not experienced a pandemic such as this one?

Answer: Hospital executives need to form a specific internal committee to self-evaluate and prepare, and then reach externally to experts/consultants for solutions/validation. They should leverage the available federal funding that may follow for emergency preparedness related to pandemic planning/response. 

Watch the replay of the ‘COVID-19: Healthcare Security. What We’ve Learned so Far’ webinar.

Ross & Baruzzini Selected to Develop After-Action Report for Seattle-Tacoma Airport

Ross & Baruzzini has been selected by the Port of Seattle (Seattle Tacoma Airport) to perform an independent review of the airports response to an August 10th incident where an airline employee abducted an aircraft and subsequently crashed the aircraft.

Working with Sea-Tac stakeholders, Ross & Baruzzini will develop an After-Action Report (AAR) that evaluates the ports incident response in accordance with Department of Homeland Security standards. In addition, the AAR will include a review with industry stakeholders on potential mitigating measures that airports and airlines can adopt in order to lessen the chances that a similar event will occur.

Click here for the official press release issued by the Port of Seattle.

Ross & Baruzzini performed analysis and developed a AAR for an active shooter incident that transpired on January 6, 2017 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Analysis and recommendations developed in the AAR include actions which occurred in the hours after the event which were undertaken to resume airport operations. The resulting AAR was developed consistently with guidelines set forth in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).

The Ross & Baruzzini security and operations team is currently engaged with multiple airports, including Lambert St. Louis International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to provide emergency planning and disaster recovery plans based on the lessons learned in accordance with national standards. The team is also preparing incident command system training as well as participating with aviation operations and security standards committees providing this vital information to the industry as a whole.

Energy and Cost Saving Strategies for Operating Rooms

Operating rooms (ORs) are one of the most critical aspects of Hospital Operations. They must be available at all times to support critical operations and procedures. As a result, most hospital ORs operate HVAC systems 24 hours per day.

ORs are incredibly profitable when they are active, but healthcare facilities lose money when they are unused. Operating costs for ORs are susceptible to a variety of factors that affect profit such as disposable medical supplies, drug prescription waste, schedule delays, etc. But one money-saving factor is often overlooked: HVAC systems setbacks. 

ORs within healthcare facilities require a significant amount of supply air by code for infection prevention. This airflow is typically 4-5 times more than what is required to meet the temperature and humidity requirements for the space. These ORs are unused for a significant portion of a typical day for a lot of facilities. One St. Louis area hospital was recently assessed and found to only be utilizing its ORs 40% of the hours in a year. There are 8,760 hours in a year. You can do the math, but that is a lot of energy wasted. The good news is that this kind of waste can be prevented. Healthcare facilities can experience significant energy savings by reducing airflows when their ORs are unoccupied.

Reduce Airflow Using ASHRAE Standards & Local Code

ASHRAE 170 – Ventilation of Health Care Facilities is the most commonly used standard for hospital HVAC systems. This standard establishes criteria for the minimum amount of supply and ventilation air, temperature, and humidity requirements to be provided in healthcare facilities. ASHRAE 170-2017 requires ORs to be supplied with 20 Air Changes per Hour (ACH) of supply air and 4 ACH of ventilation air when occupied. These air change requirements have been reduced over time, but many hospitals are still operating at air change rates well over this requirement. In some cases, as high as 30 air changes per hour.

Airflow rates can typically be reduced by as much as 75% when the space is not occupied depending on local codes. Reducing these airflow rates will allow these facilities to achieve energy savings in

  • fan energy (reduced airflow)
  • heating energy (reheat)
  • cooling energy (air handling unit cooling coil, especially for a 100% outdoor air system)
  • humidification
  • pump energy (reduced water flow)

The opportunity to reduce airflow rates and achieve energy savings potential will vary depending on the local code requirements and the frequency that the OR rooms are used in each facility.

Airflow Setback Strategy in Action

The St. Louis area hospital mentioned above implemented an airflow reduction and setback strategy for its ORs resulting in an annual savings of $55,000 per year. This facility utilized an occupancy schedule to keep ORs fully active during normal business hours and push button for un-occupied period overrides. In addition to energy savings, the hospital received the added benefit of reduced maintenance and increased system life by reducing the overall demand on the HVAC systems. Local utility incentives were utilized to help fund the project and the overall project paid for itself in less than 4 years.

Implementation Considerations

There are many things to consider when choosing to implement an OR airflow reduction and setback strategy.

1. Systems must have the right components to allow setbacks

The existing system must have the ability to adjust airflow rates while maintaining pressurization requirements. Air-Handling units must have variable speed supply fans; exhaust fans and return fans; and pressure independent control of supply and return air to spaces typically using variable air volume (VAV) terminals and DDC controls.

2.  Occupancy Control Options Vary, Hospital Staff must buy-in

There are multiple ways to determine if a space is un-occupied, some options include the use of occupancy sensors, local push button controls, or both. Occupancy sensors should default to occupied mode during a sensor failure. Push button controls can be used to activate an OR for surgery or used as a local override at the nurse station. Pilot lights can be added to push buttons to provide visual notification that the OR is ready for occupancy. Proving a way for human intervention or override can provide a sense of much needed control for the staff and flexibility during unique circumstances. Staff should be trained so there is confidence in the system.

3.  Space pressure control must be maintained

ORs must remain a positive pressure to surrounding spaces, even when unoccupied, and space pressure relationships within surrounding spaces must not be compromised by reduced airflow rates. Maintaining space pressure is not that difficult in a static (constant volume) system. It becomes more complicated in a variable volume system and space pressure balancing should be carefully thought out and reviewed.

4.  Space temperature and humidity should be maintained during setbacks

When an OR is switched to Occupied mode, the air change rate can be increased in a matter of seconds with little or no perceivable change in environmental conditions to the operating team. Temperature and humidity setpoints could take minutes or hours to recover from a setback condition. For most facilities this is unacceptable. Instead space temperature and humidity requirements should be maintained at all times to avoid disruptions to operations.

Are Setbacks Right In Your Operating Room?

Airflow reductions and setback strategies for ORs can provide significant energy savings in healthcare facilities, especially where existing ORs operate with constant airflow, temperature and humidity setpoints. The potential savings will vary depending on the existing system configuration and local code requirements. Hospital staff must have complete buy-in to the new system operation and receive proper training. This strategy is just one of the many ways to reduce operating costs in your operating room suite.

Learn more about how HVAC system setbacks can help your healthcare facility by contacting our team of professionals.

About the Authors

Brian Bieker, PE, LEED AP. Brian has over 20 years of experience as a mechanical engineer with a strong focus on healthcare design. Designing buildings and building systems has always been a passion for Brian and he takes pride in watching new living, breathing buildings come to life.

Ryan Walsh, PE, CEM, LEED AP BD+C. Ryan is the Director of Energy Services for Ross & Baruzzini. He has spent the last 20 years helping his customers find innovative and sustainable solutions for their most challenging and complex engineering projects including healthcare facilities.

Improving Airport Emergency Management: What Airport Executives Need to Know

Emergency incidents, including active shooters, power outages, airline reservation system failures, terrorist attacks, and other incidents leading to mass evacuations – due to real or perceived threats – are becoming more common in airports around the world. After-action reviews have identified the need to look beyond the concept of strict regulatory compliance and examine lessons learned to understand tactical response and recovery needs in terms of procedures, personnel and resources.

Over the past few months, Ross & Baruzzini has worked closely with Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) stakeholders and key city and county executives to assess the airport’s response to an active shooter event that took place on January 6, 2017. Information gathered during analysis of the event is informative and applies broadly to other public venue emergencies. In the FLL incident, the unprecedented self-evacuation of people into secure areas led to the complete closure of FLL, passenger delays, traffic control issues, and personal property claim issues. While each incident is unique, comparison of the FLL findings with other incidents in the United States indicate similar potential emergency preparedness gaps. Closing those gaps is essential for airports to facilitate safe and secure recovery and effective return-to-service. While historically many of these responsibilities have fallen on airlines, today airport customers expect the airport operator to take a leadership role in getting airport disruptions back to normal operations.

Emergency Planning

Advanced planning for specific threats, hazards, and functions.

In addition to FAA requirements for emergency planning, additional emergency preparedness and planning guidance are applicable to airports in support of effective response and recovery. Specific guidelines include the National Response Framework, the National Incident Management System, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Comprehensive Preparedness Guides, as well as the National Infrastructure Protection Plan. These resources provide vital information to support effective planning which is synchronized with other external local, state, and federal stakeholders. As an example, a Concept of Operations for command and control which is consistent with Incident Command System (ICS) principles assists in resource requests and tactical receipt of resources from external agencies including mutual aid and local, state, and federal resources. In addition, using staging areas as defined in the ICS facilitates effective and efficient use of resources to support response and recovery efforts. Staging areas also provide a single point of reporting for responders to receive assignments and provide security to maintain control of personnel reporting to potentially dangerous areas.

Consideration should also be given to crisis/risk communication planning. Such planning should provide linkage to the local emergency management agency so that all responding agencies understand by whom messages will be released at the jurisdictional level, clarify the approval process for messages per ICS, and reinforce jurisdictional responsibilities for coordinating message development and releasing public information.  Radio frequencies and cell phones for first responders can get overwhelmed and the airport needs to make contingency plans to address this situation.  Other planning considerations include:

  • Family Assistance and Customer Care Plan – The traditional Family Assistance Plan for an aircraft emergency should be expanded to an airport-wide Customer Care Plan which can be used to codify procedures to: 1) Assist persons with disabilities/special needs; 2) Provide language translation; 3) Reunify families; 4) Provide resource support for transportation, food, water, medical needs, shelter, and other relief supplies; 5) Support persons on delayed aircraft; 6) Identify safe havens, and 7) Collect/manage personal belongings and personal item retrieval.
  • Emergency Traffic Plan – Such a plan supports ground transportation and provides traffic control during times of duress and should include provisions for emergency access credentials to allow airport access for key personnel.
  • Continuity of Operations Plan – Such a plan supports 1) Resilience provisions that identify critical operational functions and supporting infrastructure with procedures to ensure that they are not affected by relevant disruptions, for example through redundancy and spare capacity; 2) Recovery provisions that allow restoration of critical operational functions that fail under duress; and 3) Contingency provisions that establish capabilities via backup sites addressing landside, terminal, and airside operations to the extent practical.

Coordination

Develop relationships with emergency response agencies before an event occurs to facilitate expedited response and recovery.

Equally important to effective emergency planning is coordination with stakeholders regarding roles, responsibilities, and procedures during specific types of emergencies.  Most local jurisdictions have emergency plans which define specific roles and assign responsibilities to specific agencies. Generally, jurisdictional plans allow for coordination among various local agencies and non-governmental agencies to support specific functions, often called Emergency Support Functions (ESFs).  As an example, ESF-6, Mass Care, may be led by the local public health department with support from organizations such as the American Red Cross.  During an airport emergency where large numbers of people may be delayed for a significant period of time, pre-planned coordination with ESF-6 services can be very valuable in supporting temporary mass shelter, health care, food and water supply, and other human services.

At the jurisdictional (city/county) level, coordination with the local emergency management is vital to support resourcing and logistics for specialized goods or services and/or for providing large-scale resource support.  Multi-agency coordination through policies, planning, training, and exercising support the following goals:

  • Ensure that stakeholder response agencies coordinate incident action plans to prevent duplication of effort;
  • Ensure adequate and accurate resource estimation to support resource requests;
  • Ensure stakeholders concur with tactical recommendations; and
  • Ensure stakeholders understand their roles, responsibilities, and limitations.

Among all stakeholder response agencies, it is important to establish a consistent understanding among agency leaders regarding when Unified Command is necessary and how it is to occur.

Training and Exercises

Develop competencies among assigned staff members to support emergency response and recovery.

Training and exercises provide an opportunity to build competencies and relationships among assigned emergency responders and airport stakeholders. As described in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), Multi-Year Training and Exercise Plans are recommended for airports to identify internal and external training, tabletop exercises, drills, and functional and full-scale exercises to develop competencies and relationships among personnel and agencies with assigned responsibilities under emergency response plans.  While full-scale exercises are valuable periodically, focused operational drills also provide value in allowing tactical response personnel to familiarize themselves with the airport, equipment, and with teammates. Among management personnel from stakeholder agencies and organizations, multi-agency tabletop and functional exercises are recommended to practice multi-agency coordination via unified command.

Specialized emergency planning, multi-agency coordination, and training and exercises allow airport management to build competencies among staff members and external stakeholders to minimize the impact of emergencies in public spaces.  In an environment where threats and hazards evolve quickly, these steps are necessary to protect the traveling public and to maintain airport operations and economic viability.

Why Ross & Baruzzini for Emergency Planning and Business Continuity Services

For more than 35 years, Ross & Baruzzini has delivered specialized expertise in the field of airport operations, information technology, and electronic systems. Our team has direct professional experience in emergency preparedness and response, law enforcement, life/health/safety, physical and electronic security systems, risk assessment, and training and exercise services specific to the aviation sector. Our emergency planning specialists assist airports and aviation stakeholders to develop emergency response programs that define how to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. The breadth and experience of our team allow us to augment emergency planning with appropriate training and exercises and to integrate preparedness activities with business continuity and other planning needs.

About the Authors

Michael Steinle, MBA

Michael has over 27 years of experience in project management, government affairs, emergency response, and environmental, health and safety stewardship. Michael served as a Technical Lead and Content Manager for the FLL Airport Active Shooter After-Action Report and has led many large-scale federal, state, and local emergency preparedness, resiliency, and public health planning projects.  In 2010, Michael served as the Planning Coordinator on the FEMA Region VII New Madrid Seismic Zone Catastrophic Earthquake Plan and received a commendation from the FEMA Region VII Administrator. Prior to joining Ross & Baruzzini, Michael also implemented environmental, health and safety, and emergency preparedness programs at Kansas City International Airport.

Prepare for the Expected: Improving Emergency Preparedness

We have now entered into spring – the promise of warmer weather, flowers blooming and a goodbye to ice and snow.  Unfortunately, that also means we have entered into peak tornado season. As Mother Nature has demonstrated over and over the past few years, tornadoes and other natural disasters can strike at any time. According to Wikipedia, there were over 943 tornadoes reported in the United States in 2013, of which at least 811 have been confirmed.

I’m an architect for mission critical facilities, not a weather expert. But it’s a fair assumption that the United States will again see powerful storms in 2014 which means there needs to be a renewed emphasis on improving emergency operations facilities and updating regional emergency preparedness plans so that our communities are better prepared for the next disaster. In that spirit, I offer these top 10 ways to improve emergency preparedness:

  1. Gain consensus on a regional response plan.  An emergency is no time for a city, county or municipality to determine how to coordinate resources and effort between multiple jurisdictions.  A consensus among all stakeholders is essential.
  2. Develop an interoperable communications system.  State-of-the-market systems today use the same frequency for police, fire and other emergency responder groups during an event.  A tiered communications system including radio, telephone, call phones, cable TV, data and Internet-based systems offer the best approach.
  3. Follow the National Emergency Response Plan. Developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2004, this plan offers a framework for managing an incident so all agencies and disciplines use similar protocols and terminology.
  4. Develop a business continuity plan with back-up systems for power, communications and data.  Through extensive research and design of emergency operations facilities, I recommend a minimum of one emergency generator with three days of fuel supply as a minimum design guideline.  The telephone system should come from two distinct central offices and Internet access from two spate high-speed lines.  It is good practice to have a base radio system and a HAM radio system.
  5. Conduct a threat and vulnerability assessment before building or remodeling your emergency operations center.  A thorough review should include the input of several experts: a security expert to assess potential threats and vulnerabilities; a structural engineer to look at issues such as blast resistance; and a communications expert to define suitable methodologies for maintaining business continuity.
  6. Seriously consider a new regional emergency operations center. Most facilities in place today are too small and inadequate to accommodate responders and policy makers simultaneously—a key ingredient in consolidating functions.  For example, we recently designed a new Emergency Communications Center for St. Louis County to replace an aging facility that did not allow for compatibility between the 50 different communications systems in St. Louis County.
  7. Incorporate human comfort. During a crisis, emergency management personnel are making critical decisions 24/7, often under severe stress. Comfort in this setting is not a luxury, but a necessity, with ergonomics, safety, durability, aesthetics and quiet areas all part of our typical design criteria.
  8. Develop layers of security to deter, detect and deny intruders. Best practices in security design include a series of ever-tightening circles beginning at the site perimeter, so the most vital portions of the emergency operations center are protected by multiple layers of security.  Many critical operations centers have not thought through security measures well enough to address today’s new challenges.
  9. Use cutting-edge technology to reduce the potential for human failure and manage incidents more efficiently. Examples of recommended technology include satellite communications and global positioning systems. Having a database of such critical information ready and available, however, will help you speed your recovery.
  10. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  Have a functioning back-up emergency operations center that might have a dual use. Several cities for which our firm has designed new emergency operations centers are leaving their old centers in place, planning for the day when something prevents the primary operations center from functioning.

About the Author:

Mike Shea, AIA, is a Senior Vice President at Ross & Baruzzini and leads the firms Mission Critical and Government markets.  With more than 25 years experience in planning, architecture and engineering design, Mike specializes in technically oriented large-scale multi-disciplined projects and open-end contracts.Ross & Baruzzini has designed security and emergency preparedness systems for more than 200 public and private facilities.