Mass Transit - 31

BEST PRACTICES

Emergency Response

Transit providers must remain prepared for action
should an emergency of any kind arise.

Emergency services during
hurricane evacuations
By Chris Stephenson
Transportation and Mobility
Management Director,
Senior Resource Association,
Indian River Transit GoLine &
Community Coach

VERO BEACH, FLA. * When it comes

to emergency services in Florida, mass
transit is known for hoping for the best
but preparing for the worst. In Indian
River County, a community of 154,000
people between West Palm Beach
and Orlando, every June through
November ("Hurricane Season"), the
Senior Resource Association (SRA),
the organization contracted to provide
mass transit and paratransit in the
county, stays updated on tropical storm
potential regularly. SRA is responsible
for transporting individuals to the
special-needs shelter (SNS) when the
county's Emergency Operations Center
activates its hurricane shelters. Special
needs individuals are residents whose
medical condition may require the
use of electrical equipment, oxygen,
dialysis or individuals with physical,
cognitive or medical conditions who
may require assistance from medical professionals. These evacuations
require meticulous planning and
flawless execution. Due to the vulnerable nature of these passengers, each
trip takes time and space is limited on
each vehicle because of all the items
passengers are bringing, so multi-loading is difficult.
Three times in the past four years the
SNS has been activated in Indian River
County. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 saw

188 people go to the SNS, Hurricane Irma
in 2017 saw 276 and Hurricane Dorian in
September of 2019 saw 194 people.
Although a lot of shelter residents are
dropped off by friends/relatives, during
each of these storms SRA helped evacuate
and transport more than 100 individuals
in the hours leading up to the arrival of
tropical storm force winds. Many processes have been put in place to make Senior
Resource Association/Indian River Transit's operation a best practice for emergency services during hurricane evacuations.

1.

Regular communication with the
Emergency Operations Center.
Staff at the EOC send SRA a list at least
once every month of all the people who
are registered for the shelter so transit
staff can start putting together a plan on
how to evacuate each household. This
happens even if it's December or January
and no storm is in sight.

2.

SRA runs mass transit fixed route
buses for as long as possible in
the hours leading up to the storm. This
gives people the ability to get supplies
to prepare their homes. It would really
be unfortunate if transit wasn't there for
people when they MOST needed it.

3.

SRA takes the pets of SNS clients
to the humane society before
taking the passenger to the shelter. (The
humane society watches their pets during
the storm). It adds a leg to the trip but
makes the passenger transition much
faster because individuals aren't worried
about their animals. This is how we take
a small level of stress away from the public during an already super-stressful situation. (In addition to evacuating those
individuals/pets, SRA is also responsible

Hurricane Matthew in 2016
saw 188 people go to the
SNS, Hurricane Irma in
2017 saw 276 and Hurricane
Dorian in September of 2019
saw 194 people.
for transporting general population residents with pets that reside within evacuation zones to the pet friendly shelter in
Indian River County).

4.

For paratransit services SRA
prints off drivers' schedules and
manifests for the weeks following the
storm ahead of time. Even though our
building is supposed to be able to withstand hurricane force winds, we want
to be able to get back on the road ASAP
to trip people after the storm, even if
we have no electricity, internet access,
phones, etc. in our building.

5.

The school district in Indian River
County helps transport the general population that live in evacuation
zones to/from other shelter sites in the
county, but even they have called on the
transit agency to help in the past. Transit
agencies have to be flexible and willing to
help out in whatever way they can. Storms
are a great opportunity for transit agencies in the community to show how relevant they can be to people's quality of life.

6.

Following the storm, SRA is responsible for getting people home
after it's confirmed the residence can support the individuals' special needs.

Up Next
We're on the lookout for Best
Practices on the following topics:
* Improving efficiencies with data
in our December/January issue
* Passenger information in
our February issue
If you think your agency's way
of doing business applies, we
want to hear from you: editors@
masstransitmag.com.

NOVEMBER 2019 | MassTransitmag.com | Mass Transit |

31


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Mass Transit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass Transit

Ad Index
Editor's Notebook
People & Places
NRC Chairman's Column
A Robust Safety Culture Enhances an Entire System
U.S. Transit Safety and Security Report 2019
Going Vertical: The Upside of Multi-Level Transit Facilities
Considering the Rail Passenger Purview
Best Practices
Products
Social Hubs
Mass Transit - 1
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Mass Transit - 5
Mass Transit - Ad Index
Mass Transit - 7
Mass Transit - Editor's Notebook
Mass Transit - 9
Mass Transit - People & Places
Mass Transit - 11
Mass Transit - 12
Mass Transit - 13
Mass Transit - NRC Chairman's Column
Mass Transit - 15
Mass Transit - A Robust Safety Culture Enhances an Entire System
Mass Transit - 17
Mass Transit - 18
Mass Transit - 19
Mass Transit - 20
Mass Transit - 21
Mass Transit - U.S. Transit Safety and Security Report 2019
Mass Transit - 23
Mass Transit - 24
Mass Transit - 25
Mass Transit - Going Vertical: The Upside of Multi-Level Transit Facilities
Mass Transit - 27
Mass Transit - Considering the Rail Passenger Purview
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Mass Transit - Best Practices
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