Travel behaviors during a public health biological emergency requiring points of dispensing

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In the case of a large-scale public health biological emergency, one response task is to distribute medical countermeasures to the general population through Points of Dispensing (PODs). Previous research identified travel decisions as a gap in current operational planning, with little understanding of the types of travel decisions that people make or how they make those decisions. This dissertation develops a behavioral discrete choice model that predicts the decisions of if people go to PODs, at what time of day, and to which location, based on data collected from pilot interviews, focus groups of public health, emergency management, and transportation professionals, and a stated preference survey. The product is a multinomial logit model that estimates demand at POD locations both spatially and temporally. Results revealed that half of respondents would go to PODs within three hours of opening, with two-thirds going during rush hours. When choosing a POD location, respondents most highly valued low wait times at PODs, although the value of time was comparable between travel time and wait time. A customized travel demand model utilizes the case study of a hypothetical anthrax release in Wilmington, Delaware and the subsequent response in New Castle County, Delaware to evaluate the capabilities of the behavioral model to predict collective travel decisions for a region serviced by multiple POD locations. This dissertation provides insights for future research based on identified gaps, research conclusions, and methodological limitations.