Thursday, July 16, 2009

Incident Evacuations

There is an interesting pair of articles over on by Jim Sideras about planning for and executing evacuations. The first article is very technical and will be hard to follow if the reader is not familiar with the FEMA incident management system. The second article is more general and should be read by anyone with responsibility for emergency response planning for any high-risk chemical facility, especially if there is a potential for significant off-site affect from a terrorist attack or chemical accident. Facility authority for emergency response stops at the fence-line, but there is a moral and legal responsibility for facilities to provide adequate information to local emergency planners and response personnel to allow them to plan and execute an appropriate response to a chemical release that could affect the surrounding community. Understanding the considerations that go into planning and executing an area evacuation will allow the facility to be more proactive in providing the necessary information to the incident commander. This is just another argument for someone in the facility emergency response planning team to have completed Federal incident response training. It will make it easier for the facility to communicate with the community emergency response teams. Facility Evacuations Companies will also have to consider the requirements for an evacuation of their own facility. The drivers for a facility evacuation may be an on-site incident or an incident at a neighboring establishment. A facility evacuation plan should also include:
Why/when an evacuation may be required; Who will make the decision to evacuate; How that decision will be communicated to facility personnel; What provisions will be made for facility safety and security in the event of an evacuation; Where the off-site assembly area will be; How the decision will be made to re-enter the facility;
High-risk chemical facilities are going to have to be able to continue to provide for the continuity of their security plans in the event of an evacuation. Unless the facility is able to evacuate COI (very unlikely for release COI) or chemically neutralize the COI, the risk of terror attack is not eliminated when there is an incident at a neighboring facility. In fact, such incidents may actually be a prelude to a planned terrorist attack as a method of subverting security measures. At a minimum, provisions need to be made for monitoring security systems from off-site, either at another facility of the same company, an mobile emergency center, or security company facility. This, of course, means that secure communications techniques must be used for this monitoring. Facilities that rely more upon human-based security measures (security guards, patrols, etc) are going to have to consider providing for additional protections for those security personnel if they are to remain on-site during evacuations. As we are approaching the higher-risk portion of the hurricane season along the East Coast and Gulf Coast regions of the United States, it is also important to consider how the facility will deal with mandatory evacuations due to hurricanes. Again, the continuity of security and safety plans must be included in the planning for such evacuations. Special attention must be applied to the period immediately after evacuations are lifted and there is movement of people back into the area. Reduced emergency response services will be available during this period.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */