Safe Evacuation: ‘mass’ evacuation and why ‘self’ evacuation preparedness makes a lot of sense

updated 24/06/2017

Mass evacuation is (mostly) self-evacuation – what you need to know.

Part 2 of  ‘Safe Evacuation – what exactly does safe evacuation look like?’  and ‘Safe Evacuation: tall buildings, tower blocks: why Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans and Emergency Preparedness tools are essential’ (tip: follow the blog category ‘Safe Evacuation’ on the right hand navigation).

The first post in this series looked at what an evacuation is (the immediate and urgent movement of people out of harm’s way to a safe location) and under what circumstances it may occur. It stayed pretty much within the familiar bounds of small scale evacuations from a home or a building of ‘regular’ size. Now I want to begin tackling another fascinating aspect which is ‘mass evacuation’. Timely and ironically perhaps I post this at the very moment a mass evacuation is actually under way in Florida and the Carolinas CNN Hurricane Matthew mass evacuation

 

Mass Evacuation: not relevant in peace-time UK ? Think again.

Other than the ‘regular’ emergency evacuations usually inconveniencing relatively small numbers of people because of suspicious packages (ie airports, train stations, high street, shops, shopping centres, and offices etc), sudden finds of unexploded WW devices (Southwark) and even sinking ferries you may remember these two major incidents:

      • 2005 Birmingham evacuates approximately 20,000 people following a security alert

 

       Neither, however, actually classifies as ‘mass evacuation’. According to the Mass Evacuation Framework (2014) by the London Resilience Partnership, evacuating 5,000 or 20,000 people is still ‘just’ a so called ‘medium scale evacuation’. Nevertheless, the Holbon electrical fire on 01 April 2015 is a good example and here is why. In the words of Gary Squires from the London Fire Brigade (BBC)

 “lots of people had “self-evacuated” from nearby buildings and it was only the ones on Kingsway that had been evacuated by the authorities.”

This illustrates the point I’m making about the importance of self-evacuation and the need for better preparedness. Why? Because many workers and students were unable to return for several days (36 hour blaze), having left behind wallets, phones, keys and other important personal items in their hurry to get to safety. Thankfully no one was hurt and the incident happened on a relatively fine spring day, not in the middle of rush hour or during severe weather. It would have been a different story.

I also want to mention the 7/7 bombing. Police estimate  4,000 people were caught up in the blasts in some way, many forced to self-evacuate. One of those people was my colleague Ben who has written here on school emergency preparedness. He will talk about his experience in a separate post. For now, I simply wish well all those currently caught up in the events of Hurricane Matthew and stress that preparedness is important and actually quite easy and straight forward where ever you are in the world.

UK organisations and businesses I urge to very seriously consider expanding your capacities and include Workplace Emergency Kits in your Health and Safety, Security and Business Continuity planning.  Considering how much such a simple and cost-effective step reduces your risks it is well worth the minor investment. A small item like a Personal Evacuation Pack to which items relevant to the individual have been added can make a real difference.    

Monika    

This post is also accessed by bit.ly/MassEVAC

 thank you for sharing and raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Safe Evacuation: ‘mass’ evacuation and why ‘self’ evacuation preparedness makes a lot of sense

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  5. Maddy

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