NCMM Helps Create Emergency Transportation Plan in Washington

  • Author: William Wagner
  • Date: March 28, 2023

“Prepare for the worst, hope for the best” is a useful motto for the average person, but if you’re a community emergency management professional then preparing for the worst is a necessity.

This was the spirit that brought local city, state, and national representatives from over 30 agencies together recently at the Tukwila Community Center in Tukwila, Washington. Ivan Tudela, the Access & Functional Needs Coordinator from Pierce County Emergency Management, organized the event for Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties.

The National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) offers Issue Focused Meetings, one-day facilitated opportunities to brainstorm strategies for overcoming persistent obstacles in solving transportation issues. I was at this meeting to facilitate a workshop on Emergency Response and Transportation Coordination.

Emergency events such as natural disasters, environmental contaminations, or pandemics create time-sensitive environments. Individuals with accessibility and medical considerations are more vulnerable to natural disasters and large emergencies. During an emergency they may not be able to connect with appropriate services in a timely manner or perhaps may not know which providers are available. Their typical means of transportation may be unavailable or unusable, depending on the type of emergency. Identifying, understanding, and preparing for the needs of those most vulnerable during emergencies before the events occur is vital.

Participants in the workshop identified roles they currently fill as well as potential to step into new roles in such cases. We explored strategies and each participant’s role in prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

A large paper covered in various colorful sticky notes, each with the name of a service under a column that shows how they can help in case of emergency.

Participants from across organizations were put into groups and given scenarios to discuss with the other members of their teams. In their groups they identified what each of their organizations could do, what else or who else they would need, and how they could prepare. Attendees also identified new partners within the room as well as others to invite to the group.

Tudela said “The workshop was vital in facilitating conversations around transportation coordination during an emergency and helped connect emergency managers and mass care partners to transportation providers, which will hopefully lead to future coordination, collaborative partnerships and strengthen emergency planning efforts.”

During the meeting we addressed not only transportation but also functionality needs such as communication, independence, maintaining health, critical support and safety.

“The event was a huge success. Participants learned important concepts in planning considerations for access and functional needs and people with disabilities, networked with one another, and submitted positive reviews on the event at the end of the day,” Ivan added.

The group has plans to reconvene regularly in order to update and refine their emergency plans.


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