Evacuation planning is crucial to your disaster planning efforts and should include elements such as what roles staff will play, who needs to be notified, how it will be conducted, where you will evacuate to, and how to prepare residents for evacuation when it becomes necessary.  Remember to include processes for evacuating horizontally as well as vertically, when applicable. 

In addition, there are two potential broad scenarios to consider when planning for evacuation: a wide-spread disaster that will impact a great number of people and a facility disaster that impacts just your facility.  Plan with first responders to consider both of these types of events. In the first scenario, your planning should consider evacuating out of the area with little support from first responders.  It is the worst case scenario evacuation.  In the second scenario, you may count on assistance from first responders, and you may wish to evacuate to nearby locations to minimize the stress and difficulty of evacuation.  Also, it may help to think about slow and fast onset disasters.  In some cases you may have warning that you need to evacuate, whereas in others, you have to evacuate immediately. 

Consider the impact of Transfer Trauma on your residents in all evacuation planning and execution, and make certain that first responders are well aware of this phenomenon as well. If they are not aware of the risk to residents, they do not have all the information they need to help you make a good decision about whether or not to evacuate.

In the recovery section, consider what it will take to get back to business as usual (consider disaster events that have damaged your facility, caused evacuation, caused a surge of residents within your facility, etc.).  Your plan should describe how, when and by whom each of the phases (response and recovery) will be initiated.

Use an "all hazards" approach to writing a plan, and then add annexes to the plan to deal with the specifics of particular disasters (i.e. flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, or pandemic influenza).  Your core plan remains essentially the same no matter what type of disaster you are dealing with.



Additional Considerations (Modified from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations): 

  1. Ensure that your EOP can manage activities related to care, treatment and services (modifying or discontinuing certain services; controlling information about residents, referrals, transfer & transport of residents).
  2. The EOP should provide processes for identifying care providers and other personnel during emergencies-in other words, how your facility will use volunteers.  Be sure to understand the regulations that govern your particular facility about using volunteers and what types of services they can provide.  Keep in touch with your regulatory body during any extensive/prolonged disaster to understand if any regulations have been waived. 
  3. As much as possible, your EOP should consider your existing communications system and any backup systems you may already have, as well as whether additional communications systems may be necessary in a disaster.  Consult with your communications vendors to understand the reliability-vulnerability of your communications system(s). 
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