Free Emergency Exercise Handbook for Transportation and Transit Agencies

You are here

Mineta Transportation Institute’s new manual includes templates, exercises, policies, and more
February 26, 2014
San José, CA

Transportation and transit agency emergency managers now have access to a free research report and training manual for emergency exercise development and implementation. The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) publication, Exercise Handbook: What Transportation Security and Emergency Preparedness Leaders Need to Know to Improve Emergency Preparedness will help agencies to develop effective and costefficient exercises that comply with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy. The publications are available for no-cost, no-registration download at Authors are Frances Edwards, PhD, CEM and Daniel Goodrich, MPA, CEM, MEP.

“Transit and transportation are critical infrastructure because all other emergency response depends on having functional roads and transportation assets available to them,” said Dr. Edwards. “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided extensive general guidance on how to develop training and exercise programs for public entities, especially for first responders. But little material has focused on transportation specifically. How can emergency response services be delivered without a functioning transportation sector? This handbook addresses those issues.”

It includes detailed lessons

The handbook includes specific information about federal exercise requirements, including the evolution of federal emergency management policy that affects exercise design requirements in the transportation environment. It is focused on various types of exercises approved by the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) of the DHS, with examples of successful exercise designs, scenarios, and delivery strategies, along with templates for the required documentation.

Checklists are included for each type of exercise, such as workshops, drills, tabletops, full-scale exercises, and more. The roles of the exercise staff are explained, including director, controller, facilitator, and evaluator. Necessary elements are described, such as “hot wash” meetings, After Action Reviews, plans for improvement, and participant feedback.

Actual incidents are used as reference points to help transportation and transit personnel develop the most effective exercises to test plans and evaluate personnel training.

The handbook delivers special value for smaller agencies

When transportation agency personnel were interviewed for another MTI project in 2009-10, they said they had little help in developing a thorough and effective training and exercise program specifically for people in their roles. This handbook gives them guidance materials, templates, and scenarios specific to transit, transportation, and multi-modal port training and exercises.

The exercise handbook is valuable for all transit and transportation agencies, but it will be especially valuable for those agencies in smaller communities without resources for fulltime, professionally trained emergency managers. Most often that role falls to a manager in the maintenance division who is an engineer or safety trainer.

Dr. Edwards said, “While no handbook can substitute for professional training, it is clear that personnel assigned to provide the training and exercises often have no resources immediately available to create a successful training and exercise cycle. This handbook provides a blueprint to achieve that goal.”


Frances L. Edwards, MUP, PhD, CEM is the director of the Master of Public Administration program and professor of political science at San José State University (SJSU). She is deputy director of the National Transportation Security Center of the Mineta Transportation Institute at SJSU, where she is also a research associate and teaches emergency management in the Master of Science in Transportation Management program. Her current research is focused on the role of exercises in transportation sector agencies and the role of seismic early warning systems in the JR East response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. She is also researching issues related to climate change and transportation, transportation cyber-security issues, and the role of transportation in the Incident Command System structure. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board’s ABE40 Committee focused on critical infrastructure security, the Transportation Research Board’s NCHRP Project 20-05/Topic 44-12 panel on training for field level transportation sector staff, and the SJSU Cyber Security Committee.

Daniel C. Goodrich, MPA, CEM, MEP is a research associate with the Mineta Transportation Institute and a lecturer in the Master of Science in Transportation Management program, where he teaches Security for Transportation Managers; and in the Master of Public Administration program, where he teaches Public Management. His current research is focused on the continuity of operations process and its relationship to emergency management in transportation organizations, the Incident Command System for transportation sector field personnel, and on transportation security issues, especially related to critical infrastructure protection. He is a member of the San Jose State University Cyber-Security Committee.


MTI conducts research, education, and information transfer programs focusing on surface transportation policy and management issues, especially related to transit. MTI was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and won national re-designation competitions in 2002, 2006 and 2011. The Institute is funded by Congress through the US DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through Caltrans, and public and private grants. In 2006 the US Department of Homeland Security selected MTI as a National Transportation Security Center of Excellence. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI is the lead institute for the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, an affiliation of nine university transportation research centers. MTI is affiliated with San Jose (CA) State University’s College of Business.


Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: