Evacuation - Transportation
Evacuations depend on mobility. People with physical, sensory, chronic, behavioral, or cognitive disabilities may not be mobile enough for evacuations. Planners must consider the transportation needs of the community in evacuation plans. Those with disabilities that decrease mobility may need additional help evacuating.
Know your community. It is important to know who might need additional services. Planners must also know where they are located within the community. Important steps of preparedness include:
- Identifying the location and condition of those with special transportation concerns
- Identifying the type of transport necessary
- Determining who will transport each person
- Identifying the equipment needed to enable transport. Door-to-door pick up may be an option.
Include community resources. Planners may benefit from using resources already in the community. Potential partners include:
- Transportation providers
- Emergency response organizations
- Local community-based services
- Advocacy groups
- Agencies that serve transportation-dependent populations
- Employment and training providers
- Health and social services, including home health care and long term care facilities
- Faith-based organizations, including the Salvation Army
- American Red Cross
- State Departments of Transportation
- Paratransit services – These organizations transport those with specific mobility needs daily. Vehicles are equipped to move those with disabilities and drivers know where their clients live. Paratransit rider lists will help emergency personnel identify those who need extra help. These can also be a communication resource.
Case Study: During Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana churches started a program called Operation Brother's Keeper. This program helped evacuate those who lacked transportation. The churches matched those who had "empty seats" in their vehicles to those who needed a ride. As a long-term goal, the program sought to relieve some of the pressures on public transit services during an evacuation. Although only a pilot program, Operation Brother's Keeper evacuated 60% of Jefferson Parish's population that did not have their own rides.
Lesson Learned:By partnering with private, nonprofit, or faith-based groups, planners can provide additional transportation resources to those in need.
Keep track of transportation resources. In an emergency, resources will be limited. Communities should prioritize transportation for those with impaired mobility. Planners should keep a sharp eye on the transportation resources they have available and the needs of the community. Consider the following:
- Maintain a list of transportation resources. Organize it by type and availability. Also include things like vehicle accessibility and capacity.
- Develop lists of additional resources. Consider fuel needs, access to vehicles, mileage to be traveled, and storage of resources.
- Keep all lists up-to-date before, during, and after an event.
Crosswalk plans with neighboring communities. Ensure that your plans do not rely on the same equipment as a neighboring community. A single transport agency may have multiple contracts for their resources. When disaster strikes, there may not be enough vehicles or drivers to meet all of the agreements. Planners should create back up plans for limited resources.
Provide specialized transportation equipment. According to U.S. DOT's Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation, "even in urban areas where more modes [of transportation] are available, few plans recognize the potential role for intercity buses, trains, airplanes, and boats. These modes may be particularly important for persons who cannot evacuate in personal vehicles including persons with various disabilities."
- Planners might look to include such resources in their plans. They might also incorporate:
- School buses
- Wheelchair accessible school buses
- Private vehicles, like sedans or minivans
- Private medical transport vehicles
- Some people may have serious medical conditions that need immediate attention. They will need to be transported as quickly as possible. Consider using life-flight helicopters or MICU ambulances.
- Some equipment must be operated by trained personnel. Planners should keep a master list of drivers by status and availability. This will help match the appropriate equipment and driver skill level in an emergency.
Review emergency transportation plans. Emergency responders and volunteers should be familiar with emergency plans. The emergency planner can help this process. Additionally, planners can help train and review how to transport those with disabilities. Include ways to transport service animals.Back to Top
Use appropriate vehicles for transport. Individuals with disabilities will have a diverse set of needs. Not everyone will need specialized transportation equipment. Many will need assistance. For example, those with vision impairment, mental retardation, or psychiatric disorders will be able to ride in any type of transportation. Those that require assistants will benefit if assistants travel with them in the same vehicle. People in wheelchairs will require special vans with lifts for transportation. Others who use mobility aids may need vehicles with enough room for their special equipment.
- Planners should consider the range of equipment available for transport.
- They should also consider how to best maximize those resources.
Provide door-to-door service. Consider providing door-to-door services in an evacuation. This will be especially helpful for those who have mobility limitations or do not have their own transportation. Local organizations, like Meals-on-Wheels or faith-based organizations, can help. These groups maintain lists of those that need door-to-door pick-up. They may even have the resources to help evacuate.
Keep transportation records. During an evacuation, it is likely that people will be scattered. Friends and family may be separated. For people with disabilities, separation from a care giver or support network can cause problems. Transportation operators can create rosters to record service. These billing rosters will help recover revenue. It may also help friends and families track the whereabouts of their loved ones. A roster should contain the following information:
- Name of driver
- Driver's telephone number
- Time departed staging area
- Time arrived at sheltering location
- Vehicle number
- Sheltering location
- Person(s) transported
- Service Animals
Track the whereabouts of evacuees. Keeping track of who has been evacuated and to where helps an evacuation run smoothly. Additionally, records can help reunite families and friends.
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Case Study: During the evacuations in Hurricane Katrina, victims were poorly tracked. Once they reached their destination, some evacuees were unable to contact their families. Others were separated from their groups during the evacuation. Family members loading on different buses thought that all the buses were going to the same destination when they were not. Once phone and internet service was restored, family and friends began filing missing person reports with groups like the American Red Cross. Other tools to assist in locating missing people began operations including the "Katrina PeopleFinder Project" and web boards like the "Yahoo! Message board Katrina: Search for Missing People." Some of the more successful tracking was done by The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). This group staffed a hotline to take reports of missing and found children and adults.
Lesson Learned:Communities may benefit from having centralized hotlines or message boards. This will help families locate each other following an evacuation. Ensure that people with disabilities can access the systems, and advertise the system before and during the evacuation.
Planning for the recovery begins by identifying resources. Finding transportation resources may be difficult. Drivers may be stranded, burned out, or gone. The whole community may be competing for the same resources, including fuel. Private owners may want vehicles returned so they can begin their own recovery. Individuals with disabilities may need a certain type of vehicle for transport. Logically, these resources may be in high demand.
>Arrange to return people home based on their needs. Returning to an area following a disaster is likely to be a slow process. Long-term contracts with transport services may be needed. Damages may require long stays in shelters or other disaster housing. Regardless, people may be eager to return to their homes. This will place limited transportation resources in high demand. Planners may work to schedule transportation back to a home or community in shifts. Individuals with disabilities may have a greater need to return to their home or care facility. Planners should prioritize the transport of individuals in need to ease the burden that a disaster may cause.
Ensure transportation is accessible. Even during the recovery phase, transportation will be in high demand. This demand will likely outpace resources. It is important to keep transport services accessible to everyone in the community.
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- Prioritize specialized vehicles for those who require them.
- Passengers may require door-to-door drop off or assistance entering the home. Plan to have transportation providers give this aid.
- Accessibility may be affected by a disaster. For example, someone's home may remain unaffected but their ramp may be damaged. Include this information in post disaster assessment.
After any event, planners should identify lessons learned and ways to improve.
Draft an After Action Report. Planners should create an after action report. This will help evaluate response and recovery from an event. It will also help identify successes and gaps in service. This will help improve future operations. Involving partners in the feedback is critical successfully reviewing and improving on the plan. Consider using community partner workshops, meetings, driver reports, etc to gather information. Also use Incident Action Plans, activity logs, and functional and position checklists.
Clarify the evacuation process. Planners should look for ways to make evacuation transport services more well-known. For example, a signage committee can examine what signs are needed at the pick up and drop off points. Better signs can help traffic and pedestrian flow. They can also increase the efficiency and safety of an evacuation. This will be particularly important for individuals with disabilities who may take longer to evacuate.Back to Top
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- Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness, FEMA
FEMA's guide helps people prepare themselves and their families for disasters. It provides a step-by-step outline on how to prepare a disaster supply kit. It also includes information on emergency planning for people with disabilities and how to locate and evacuate to a shelter. In addition, it has suggestions for contingency planning for family pets.
Access this document at http://www.citizencorps.gov/ready/cc_pubs.shtm
- Assisting People with Disabilities in A Disaster, FEMA
This website provides tips for neighbors of and people working with people with disabilities. The tips are categorized by disability.
Access this document at http://www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/specialplans.shtm
- Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation, U.S. Department of Transportation
The U.S. DOT studied the response to Hurricane Katrina. The focus of its report was on the evacuation part of emergency planning; it is limited to the Gulf Coast region. The report provides lessons learned related to transportation and evacuation following a regional disaster.
Access this document at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/hurricanevacuation/
- Disaster Mitigation and Persons with Disabilities, Independent Living Resource Utilization
This report suggests training for responders in using medical support equipment. It also says that emergency responders should provide similar training to volunteer groups.
Access this document at http://www.ilru.org/html/training/webcasts/handouts/2003/08-27-PB/Transcript.txt
- Disaster Preparedness and People with Disabilities or Special Health Care Needs, Iowa's Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Program (EPSDT)
This article in Iowa's EPSDT's "Care for Kids" Newsletter gives tips for preparing for a disaster. These include creating a disaster plan and setting up a support network.
Access this document at http://www.iowaepsdt.org/EPSDTNews/2002/win02/disaster.htm
- Disaster Preparedness--Reasoning WHY Physical, Emotional and Financial Preparation for Disabled Citizens, How Eliminating Limited Perceptions Unifies Us (HELPU Fire and Life Safety)
"Reasoning WHY" is an online disaster preparedness booklet. It discusses why people with disabilities should prepare for disasters and steps they can take to do so. It includes self-assessments and information on physical, emotional and financial preparations.
Access this document at http://www.helpusafety.org/3PREPSDI.pdf (PDF - 1,000 KB)
- Drivewell, American Society on Aging
DriveWell is a program that promotes safe driving for seniors. This site has information on driving with impairments that seniors often suffer from. This information should be helpful for planners focused on all populations facing similar challenges.
Access this document at: http://www.asaging.org/asav2/drivewell/index.cfm?CFID=23210127&CFTOKEN=62971471
- Emergency Preparation and Evacuation for Employees with Disabilities: Identifying Potential Interventions and Methods for Testing Them, Glen W. White, PhD
This presentation discusses the relationship between people with disabilities and their environment. It explains that particular surroundings can put these people at increased risk. The "Person-Environment Model" presented here shows how employers and planners can address how emergencies affect people with disabilities. The presentation includes key emergency planning suggestions. One is to create an employee buddy system for emergencies. A second is to buy assistive equipment and accessible communications devices. A third is to include the needs of people with disabilities in evacuation plans.
Access this document at http://www2.ku.edu/~rrtcpbs/powerpoint/EPEED.ppt
- Emergency Preparation and People with Disabilities, National Service Inclusion Project, National Council on Disability (NCD)
This NCD report provides recommendations to the Federal Government. It says that people with disabilities need to be included in emergency preparedness, disaster relief, and homeland security programs.
Access this document at http://www.serviceandinclusion.org/index.php?page=emergency
- Emergency Tip Sheets for People with Disabilities, Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco
The 10 sheets offer tips for people with various disabilities. This include cognitive and communication disabilities, medical concerns, environmental or chemical sensitivities, hearing and visual impairments, life-support systems, mobility concerns, psychiatric disabilities, and service animals or pets. The sheets list information by category on what people can do before, during and after disasters. The document also includes a checklist for people to use to prepare themselves.
Access this document at http://www.prepare.org/disabilities/disabilities.htm
- Evacuation issues for people with disabilities, National Council on Disability (NCD)
This NCD Webcast shows their conference on Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities. It includes a number of tips for planners, responders, and people with disabilities.
Access this document at http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/NOD/player.cfm
- Katrina PeopleFinder Project
Dozens of websites have been established to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina report missing persons and find their loved ones. This creates a difficulty for people trying to locate missing persons. They must search dozens of separate databases and message forums. This project is a central repository. It allows users to search the data from all of these at one time.
Access this document at http://katrinahelp.info/wiki/index.php/Katrina_PeopleFinder_Project
- Leaving New Orleans: Social Stratification, Networks, and Hurricane Evacuation, Elizabeth Fussell
This article explores the social factors that led to the response to Hurricane Katrina. It identifies the powerful intangibles that determine an individual's response to the storm. Planners may find this useful to better understand how a given community will interpret response efforts.
Access this document at http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Fussell/
- Last Invited In, Forced to be Last Out, Illinois Assistive Technology Project
This article discusses evacuation methods and resources for people with disabilities.
Access this document at http://www.iltech.org/erevac.asp
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the NCMEC created and staffed a hotline to take reports of missing children, missing adults, and found children. This site links to the hotline. It also provides more information about tracking following an evacuation.
Access this document at http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=2077
- Operation Brother's Keeper USA
Vacation Rentals for Families works, in partnership with Graduate Medical Consultants Group, to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. These companies recognized that Katrina victims required immediate intervention. They decided to work together to get medical personnel to areas devastated by Katrina. One current focus of the operation is providing transport services to victims who cannot transport themselves.
Access this document at http://www.operationbrotherskeeper.org/
- Orientation Manual for First Responders on the Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities, FEMA
This manual provides information on identifying and locating people with disabilities in a community. It details how responders can assist people with various categories of disabilities. One example is carrying methods for people with limited mobility.
Access this document at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/FA-235-508.pdf (PDF - 910 KB)
- Preparing for Emergencies: A Checklist for People with Mobility Problems, FEMA
This checklist will help people with mobility disabilities to prepare an emergency plan. It includes a suggested disaster supplies kit. It also includes information on an escape plan, a home hazard hunt, evacuations, and fire safety.
Access this document at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Content/homelandsecurity/preparedness/mobilitychecklist.pdf (PDF - 34 KB)
- Report on SNAKE Project, National Organization on Disability
The conditions of people with disabilities often worsen during emergency evacuations. The root cause of this is often an over-use of medical interventions and an under-use of trained caregivers. Expensive treatments given under these circumstances are often poor replacements for proper care and equipment. Disaster workers need specific training to address this problem. This training should teach them to identify evacuee limitations and to place them with the appropriate caregivers.
Access this document at http://www.nod.org/Resources/PDFs/katrina_snake_report.pdf (PDF - 56 KB)
- Special Needs Planning Considerations for Services and Support Providers, FEMA
The purpose of this course is to provide representatives of the special needs service and support system with the basic information and tools to develop their emergency plans. This course is designed for people who work with the elderly and people with disabilities. It teaches how to collaborate with local Emergency Management and better prepare for all phases of an emergency.
Access this document at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/IS197SP.asp
- Strategies in Emergency Preparedness for Transportation-Dependent Populations, National Consortium on Human Services Transportation
Certain people may need extra help to evacuate during an emergency. State emergency planners can address potential evacuation problems by implementing recognized best practices. Emergency planners should develop a voluntary, self-identified database of people with disabilities who may need help during an emergency. They should also create contingency plans and agreements for helping this population during an emergency. Finally, they should conduct a public education campaign. This would prepare people for certain actions or inactions that may occur during emergency response operations.
Access this document at http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/Documents/Emergency/Emergency%20Preparedness%20Strategy%20Paper.do
- The Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) Guide for Emergency Managers, Planners & Responders, National Organization on Disability
This Guide highlights key concerns for emergency planners. It advises them on how to develop plans that will take into account the needs and insights of people with disabilities before, during and after emergencies. Overall, it is designed to help emergency managers, planners, and responders make the best use of available resources. This includes involving people with disabilities in the emergency preparedness planning process.
Access this document at http://www.nod.org/resources/PDFs/epiguide2005.pdf (PDF - 165 KB)
- Transportation and Emergency Preparedness Checklist, National Consortium on the Coordination of Human Service Transportation
The NCCHST created this checklist to help emergency planners prepare evacuation guides and programs. Among other topics, this checklist highlights best practices for assisting people with physical disabilities during evacuations.
Access this document at http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/Documents/Emergency/Emergency%20Checklist.doc
- Working Conference on Emergency Management and People with Disabilities and the Elderly
Communication technology is improving. New systems are created and implemented every year. However, new costs are created at the same time and passed-on to the consumers-in this case people with disabilities. This population already has significant financial concerns. As a result, the extra expense associated with communications devices could deter many from using them. When possible, free or low cost options should be used as alternatives for more costly technology. Some examples are: call-down lists, phone trees, and neighborhood watch groups. Partnerships between planners, Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), and TTY Networks could facilitate emergency response.
Access this document at http://www.add-em-conf.com/presentations.htm
- Yahoo! News Katrina: Search for Missing People
This Yahoo! Message board was created to help people find each other following the evacuations in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Access this document at http://boards.news.yahoo.com/boards/