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Office of Emergency Managment
128 N 2nd Street, Rm. 10, Yakima Washington 98901 - Phone: (509) 574-1900

About Us

Yakima County
Comprehensive Emergency Management Program

Emergency Support
Function #24
Evacuation and Movement

Overall responsibility for the implementation of emergency management activities, as defined in this ESF, rests with elected or appointed government officials, i.e., County Commissioners, and mayors of the 14 cities and towns; and governing bodies of those jurisdictions with responsibilities during an emergency or disaster.  Non-government jurisdictions may include the private sector, and volunteer organizations.  These are identified under the heading of Support Agencies

Primary Agencies: 

Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management 
Affected Jurisdiction

Support Agencies:

Public Works 
Law Enforcement 
Fire Services
American Red Cross
Prosecuting Attorney/Legal
Private Ambulance Providers
School Districts and Private
Central Washington Mental Health
Humane Society
Animal Control
I.       General Information    

A.      Purpose

The purpose of this Emergency Support Function (ESF) is to provide guidance for the precautionary relocation of citizens from life or health threatening hazards, and to return when it is safe.

B.      Scope

Planning for every situation needing evacuation and movement of people in Yakima County is beyond the scope of this ESF.  This plan will address broad objectives that will provide the greatest protection of life during emergencies or disasters in which precautionary evacuations are recommended.

II.      Policy

Revised Code of Washington (RCW 38.52.010[1]) states that “emergency management” or “comprehensive emergency management” does not mean preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of nuclear attack.  This ESF is not an attempt to circumvent the intent of the RCW.  Rather, it is to alert local jurisdictions to participate in the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery emergency management activities, associated with evacuation and recovery, other than a nuclear attack.

III.    Situation

A.      Emergency/Disaster Conditions and Hazards

See Yakima County Hazard Identification and Community Assessment, June, 2003.

B.      Planning Assumptions

1.       An emergency or disaster is imminent or has occurred, and is of such magnitude that people must be evacuated to avoid loss of life.

2.       A shortage of personnel and resources will occur during widespread and long term events to manage all of the evacuation needs.

IV.    Concept of Operations

A.      General   

1.       Evacuation of people from certain areas to prevent injury and/or death is sometimes an appropriate protective action.  These areas may include those directly affected and those that may be potentially affected by the event.  Consideration must be given to the potential safety gained by moving the people as opposed to the risk posed by the hazard, the warning time available and the time available to evacuate.  (Situations will occur in which sheltering in place will be the safest option.)  Evacuation is to be considered a round-trip process.  Immediate planning should include people being informed as they are being evacuated, and a plan in place to allow them to return.

2.       Direction and control of evacuation is exercised primarily on-scene.  Mechanical considerations of evacuation are outlined in this and other ESFs (i.e.,mass care, transportation, etc.).  Social processes and economic consequences should also be considered.  A local Emergency Proclamation may be considered to ease implementation and enforcement of the evacuation process.

3.       The actual message to the citizens requesting that they evacuate should be clear and concise and contain specific information as to the hazard and the specific risk, where citizens are supposed to go, what routes they should take and what provisions have been made for shelter.  Experience in actual events has shown that people react better to messages from a recognized authority such as Law Enforcement, Executive, and Fire Chief, and if they are told what to do, not what not to do.

B.      Organizational

1.      Precautionary evacuations may be authorized by the Chief Elected Official, or designee.

2.      Emergency evacuations may be authorized by the following:

a.       Sheriff or Police Chief;

b.        Fire Chief;

c.       Health District Director, or his or her designee;

d.       Senior law enforcement, fire services officer, or other appropriate official at the scene of an emergency incident.

3.       It should be anticipated that people will be hesitant to evacuate and will seek confirmation of the evacuation request from neighbors, friends and relatives.  Research has shown that there are incentives which can be provided to people to encourage people to leave.  These include the following:

a.       The evacuation request should be made by elected officials or other recognized authority.

b.       Contact should be made by uniformed personnel.

c.       Information should be provided as to the exact nature of the threat.

d.       The evacuation request should be disseminated from multiple sources if possible.

e.       Assurances should be provided of security and property protection.

f.        Provisions for alternative emergency transportation should be provided, if needed.

g.       Provisions for reducing family separation anxiety, such as information about schools (if involved) should be considered.

h.       Provisions for pets should be considered.

i.        Provide information as to what exactly is expected of the citizens in the threatened area.

j.        Ensure that all messages from the field and official sources are consistent.

4.       For precautionary evacuation, the local jurisdiction EOC will need to provide the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management, or the Operational Area EOC if activated, with the nature of the threat, size of the area needing evacuation, jurisdictions involved and expected duration.

5.       Provisions for evacuation of special populations, pick‑up points for people without private transportation, support to evacuees, referral for relatives, or re‑entry into evacuated area will be handled on a case-by-case basis with other agencies involved in an evacuation.

6.       It is American Red Cross policy that pets (other than assistance animals such as seeing-eye dogs) are not allowed in shelters; however, research has shown that people will want to bring their pets with them if they are asked to evacuate.  People should be encouraged to bring their own methods of confinement and control of their pets (such as a travel container for small animals and leashes for dogs) as well as food and water for pets so they may be kept in their automobiles or in a designated area outside of the shelter.

7.      In certain circumstances, attempting to evacuate people may expose them to more risk that if they stay where they are.  In circumstances involving hazardous materials, residents should take measures to seal up their occupancies.  This strategy is called "shelter-in-place" and involves closing up the occupancy, shutting off any ventilation, sealing cracks under doors, moving to an interior room and waiting the situation out.  The decision of recommending evacuation or shelter in place should be a coordinated decision with all of the appropriate agencies with authority or expertise at an event.

8.       If people refuse to leave when requested to evacuate, it is recommended that the requester get a signed statement from the people that they have been advised to evacuate and that they refuse.  The name of the next of kin should also be obtained.  If they refuse to give a signed statement, the requester should get a witness to the effect that they have been duly warned.

9.       Consideration should be given to the sheltering and eventual return of the citizens.  Continued information to evacuated citizens on the status of the threat, accountability of family members, reassurance of security and accurate information on the duration of the evacuation should be considered.

V.      Responsibilities

A.      Primary Agencies

1.     Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management

Coordinate evacuations involving multi-jurisdictions.                 

2.       Affected Jurisdiction

a.       Lead agency for the coordination and support of requests from field agencies in evacuation efforts within their jurisdiction.
b.       Provide emergency public information.
c.       Assist with the identification of reception areas and shelters.

B.      Support Agencies                  

1.       Public Works

a.       Provide traffic control signs and barricades, and operational control of traffic signals and flashers.
b.       Assist with identification of evacuation routes.            
2.       Law Enforcement
a.       Provide traffic and crowd control.
b.       Assist in the removal of stalled vehicles and equipment from evacuation routes.
c.       Assist in the identification of evacuation routes.
d.       Assist with notification of citizens to evacuate.

3.       Fire Services

a.       Assist with notification of citizens to evacuate.
b.       May provide technical information relative to the decision to evacuate or shelter-in-place.

4.       American Red Cross

a.       Provide shelter to evacuees.
b.       Identify and provide referral services as to who is in what shelter.

5.       Prosecuting Attorney/Legal 

Provide legal opinion and guidance for precautionary evacuation.                     

6.       Private Ambulance Providers

Assist in the movement of evacuees with special needs, as requested.                     

7.       School Districts and Private

Provide sheltering, as requested.                     

8.       Central Washington Mental Health

Provide counseling, as requested.                     

9.       Humane Society

Assist with the relocation of animals, as requested.                     

10.     Animal Control

Assist with animal population within impacted area, as requested.  

VI.    References

See Yakima County Hazard Identification and Community Assessment, June, 2003.
Community Emergency Management System (CEMS) Procedures, June, 2003
Agreement for Mutual Aid for Emergencies and Disasters in Yakima County, April, 2003

VII.   Acronyms, Definitions and Terms

See CEMP Basic Plan, Attachment VI, C.

Emergency Evacuation—immediate movement of people within a high risk zone, i.e., hazardous materials red zone.  A decision that is made immediately at the scene by authorized personnel.

Precautionary Evacuation—movement of people who could be exposed to risk, but not directly in the high risk zone (see definition of Emergency Evacuation).  Decisions made by the chief elected official of the jurisdiction or his/her designated representative.

EOC—Emergency Operations Centers

1.       Operational Area EOC—Central coordination point for multi-jurisdictional disaster support; located in Room B-12 of the County Courthouse.
2.       Local Jurisdiction EOCs—Coordination point for local government; Yakima County governments have established an EOC for local disaster coordination.





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