U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) has introduced a bill into the House of Representatives that would require air transportation security programs established by airport operators to contain safety measures that would protect travelers in the event of an emergency. H.R. 4737, titled the Airport Advanced Logistics, Emergency Response and Training Act, or the Airport ALERT Act, amends title 49 of the United States Code to require a number of new components be added to air transportation security programs.
These new components include measures to increase safety and preparedness training for personnel, create more comprehensive risk communication plans and to formalize plans for customer safety during emergencies.
Under the Airport ALERT Act all airport security personnel, including Transportation Security Administration agents, will be trained to respond during active violence situations. Their training will focus on crowd management, mass evacuation, event recovery and unified command.
The Airport ALERT Act will also require airports to create comprehensive plans for the mass evacuation of airport terminals and facilities.
The risk communication plans mandated by the Airport ALERT Act will need to include communications with non-airline tenants; ground transportation; state, local and federal agencies; law enforcement; the media; and the general public.
Also included in the act is a mandate for continuity of operations plans, ensuring that critical transportation functions will be restored or relocated as soon as possible.
Likewise critical to the act are plans that address the needs of customers during emergencies. Airports will be required to plan for evacuee sheltering, communication between families and victims, availability of food and water, personal item retrieval, language services and special provisions to help international travelers.
While Wasserman Schultz introduced and was the initial sponsor for the Airport ALERT Act, its seven co-sponsors show that the act already has bipartisan support. The act’s co-sponsors are Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL).
“One year ago our community became the latest to experience a mass shooting we never thought would happen here,” Rep. Wasserman Schultz tweeted. “After conducting a thorough review, I’m proud to introduce this bill to help ensure the safety of travelers at all of our nation’s major airports.”
To read the full text of the Airport ALERT Act, visit the act’s page on congress.gov.