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A municipal evacuation plan will help streamline the evacuation process by providing an organized framework for the activities involved in coordinating and conducting an evacuation.
The aim of an evacuation plan is to allow for a safe, effective, and coordinated evacuation of people from an emergency area.
A municipal evacuation plan may be a stand-alone plan or part of a larger, overarching municipal emergency response plan. Municipal Evacuation Plans should outline how needed functions will be performed and by what organization (e.g. Consider the characteristics of the municipality that may affect the execution of an incident-specific evacuation plan. Is the municipality single, upper, or lower tier and how will that affect responsibilities during an evacuation? Is the location of the municipality and the populated areas likely to impose particular challenges for an evacuation? List hazards that have the greatest potential to require an evacuation (Refer to the municipal Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) or Community Risk Profile).
Does the hazard have the potential to migrate outside of municipal boundaries or does it start elsewhere and migrate into the municipal boundaries? Identify the process for conducting real-time threat assessments and how the real-time threat assessment will inform the decision to evacuate. Since the presence of contaminants in an emergency area will greatly complicate evacuation operations, a municipality’s evacuation plan should take into account procedures and equipment for these situations.
In addition to the effects on emergency responders, residents may also be limited in their ability to move through the affected area safely. In order to prevent the spread of contamination, evacuees may need to be isolated from unaffected locations and populations until being decontaminated. Emergency managers must understand the makeup of the population who are to be evacuated before they can make decisions about transportation modes, route selections, hosting destinations, and the many other elements of an evacuation. For planning purposes it may be advisable to increase the estimate of evacuees to account the evacuation shadow (these are the people who evacuate though they are not officially requested to do so.) This is a spontaneous evacuation, conducted when people feel they are in danger and begin to leave in advance of official instructions to do so or in spite of advice to shelter-in-place.
Details on populations that may require special assistance during an evacuation may be obtained from the departments and organizations involved in planning, such as public health, social services, etc. To ensure that considerations such as advance warning and transportation are factored into the planning, areas with high concentrations of people needing additional assistance to evacuate should be identified. Long-term care residents may require vehicles equipped to serve riders in wheelchairs or medical transportation. An evacuation involving incarcerated individuals would require secure transport and hosting arrangements. In municipalities where the majority of evacuees make their own transportation and shelter arrangements, it may not be necessary to compile lists of evacuees according to categories (Ideally, evacuees would still register to allow for tracking and inquiry).
Evacuations may take place prior to (pre-emptive), during (no-notice), or after (post-incident) an incident has occurred. Given adequate warning about a hazard, sufficient resources, and a likely threat, it is advisable to conduct pre-emptive evacuations. It may be advisable to carry out an evacuation even while a threat is affecting a community. Partial evacuations typically are localized to a specific area of a municipality and may be caused by fires, hazardous materials incidents, etc. Incidents that precipitate a wide-spread evacuation typically cause far-reaching damage and are therefore more likely to compromise critical infrastructure in a manner that hinders evacuee movement.
An internal evacuation is where evacuees are hosted at another location within the same municipality as opposed to being hosted by another municipality.
Spontaneous evacuation (self-evacuation) is when people choose to evacuate without explicit direction to do so. If the present location affords adequate protection against the particular incident, emergency managers should consider having people shelter-in-placevii to reduce the number of persons who become part of an evacuation.
Once emergency managers have determined the number and geographic distribution of potential evacuees, these statistics can be analyzed against the transportation network. What is the distribution of the evacuating population with respect to roadways and highways? What planning, operational staff, systems, and activities are needed to implement the chosen tactics during an evacuation?
Should lanes be dedicated for high occupancy vehicles and any other special population groups (i.e.
Recognize that different traffic management tactics (and different routes) may be more or less appropriate for certain types of situations. These figures are average and do not take into consideration an emergency situation or other factors that may be present during an evacuation.
Pre-planning assists decision-makers in determining suitable transportation options for inclusion in the incident-specific plan.
The traffic management section outlines tactics that may be used to move traffic more efficiently.
For incidents of longer duration, these assembly points can serve as collection points for evacuees who have walked or ridden transit from the at-risk area, and who now must wait for transport (buses, etc.) to longer-term sheltering facilities. The ability of a sheltering facility to accommodate such special needs groups will depend on its on-site design and capabilities.
By comparing shelter capabilities and capacities with the anticipated evacuation population, a jurisdiction can ensure it has made adequate sheltering arrangements, including the appropriate staffing levels for each shelter. By pre-identifying sheltering facilities, their locations can be evaluated in relation to proposed evacuation routes and other components of the transportation network. In terms of First Nation evacuations, JEMS Service-level Evacuation Standardsx defines short-term shelter services as a period between 1 and 14 days.
Municipalities may set-up and support shelters with municipal staff or they may have an agreement with another organization (e.g.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to analyze available data, including highlighting key aspects of the potential evacuation populations.
Pre-planning can be used to help determine specific evacuation strategies should one of the pre-identified incidents occur. The plan must state who has the authority to initiate the notification process and implement the plan.
Evacuation should be considered when other response measures are insufficient to ensure public safety. The urgency of an evacuation is determined based on the immediacy of the threat to the community (life, safety, health, and welfare), the resilience of the community, and (depending on the nature of the threat) the availability of resources for evacuation or shelter-in-place.
Pre-planning and analysis conducted in the development of the municipal evacuation plan will be instrumental in creating an incident-specific plan (IAP). Based on the outcome of the real-time threat assessment, consider the type of evacuation required or if shelter-in-place is appropriate. Staging resources and phasing evacuations may alleviate some of the above complicating factors.


Information may be pre-scripted and included as part of the Municipal Evacuation Plan or elsewhere (i.e.
Consider including information regarding language and communications barriers for at-risk populations. Ongoing communications should be maintained through the length of the evacuation until the return is completed.
Detail what departments, organizations, and individuals would have a role in the implementation of the plan and list specific responsibilities. What are the roles and responsibilities of the lead and other response organizations involvedxii? Who are the partners (additional subject matter experts required in the EOC to provide additional expertise)? If a third party is contracted by a municipality to provide services in an evacuation, its roles and responsibilities should be outlined within the agreement (e.g. Requests for additional assistance should be made through the PEOC (including requests for Government of Canada assistance).
A municipality may choose to identify an Evacuation Coordinator to lead an evacuation with minimum delay and confusion in the event of an emergency.
Regardless of the stage of the evacuation operation there are four roles a municipality may assume while involved in an evacuation effort.
Identify resources needed to support the evacuation and the process for acquiring them (e.g.
When the emergency that prompted the evacuation has been resolved it will be necessary to plan for the return of evacuees. Since the degree of damage will likely vary within the affected area it might be beneficial to initiate a phased re-entry process. Evacuees who self-evacuated using their own means of transportation should be able to return on their own. What media sources can evacuees use for the most up-to-date information on re-entry procedures? Following the return of evacuees, consider when to terminate the declaration of emergency – reference the Municipal Emergency Response Plan.
Discuss who generates the above, when they will be created, to whom they will be presented, and how the lessons learned will be incorporated into the evacuation plan. Successful efforts for public education include community seminars and preparedness pamphlets distributed to residents and businesses. Based on recommended practices, consider including COOP as part of the risk management process.
This municipal evacuation plan will help streamline the evacuation process by providing an organized framework for the activities involved in coordinating and conducting an evacuation.
The aim of this evacuation plan is to allow for a safe, effective, and coordinated evacuation of people from an emergency area in [insert the Name of the Municipality]. Damage to property or the environment may also trigger an evacuation if it poses a risk to the safety, health, and welfare of people. The aim is achieved by detailing evacuation considerations, hosting arrangements, transportation management, and return planning.
This includes details on the municipality, hazards that may necessitate an evacuation, and demographics.
Emergency responders may not be able to enter an area without subjecting themselves to an unreasonable level of risk, or they may need to wear and use specialized personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves. Decontamination could necessitate specialized screening and cleaning resources, and expertise, and may be required before people are transported to advanced care and sheltering facilities. All activities and efforts should be focused on moving these people from the at-risk area to places of safety in a timely manner. It has been estimated that between 5 and 20 percent of people will anticipate an evacuation and self-evacuate. This list should contain the names of persons needed to restart systems that must be in place before evacuees can return home (e.g.
A pre-emptive evacuation may be undertaken when it is clear that if delayed, conditions (weather or other hazard) would impede evacuation. There is often on-scene activity by emergency response personnel who may direct the evacuation. Evacuations of this type often involve a large number of evacuees, possibly from more than one municipality. Structural damage to the transportation system, such as bridges, tunnels, and highway systems may render them unsafe for use. While the primary goal of any response action is to save lives, the ability to evacuate people quickly and efficiently should be weighed against the risks of remaining in place.
Their understanding of the regional transportation network enables them to identify ways to improve the carrying capacity of roadways and transit systems in a safe manner.
In most evacuation scenarios, the majority of evacuee movements will take place on roadways and highways, in both personal vehicles and transit vehicles. The plan may identify a number of options, but requires planners to select and implement only certain tactics based on the specific circumstances during the evacuation. The real-time threat assessment, type of evacuation, resources available and needed, and the number of people to be evacuated will dictate what transportation options are best. The challenge lies in identifying those tactics that provide the greatest increase in carrying capacity while being realistic in terms of time and resource requirements. Due to the uncertain nature of incidents that trigger evacuations, the evacuees may be able to return directly to their residence or place of employment from the assembly point once it is safe to do so. Evacuation planners should determine which special needs groups should be routed to particular shelters, and how to incorporate such direction into the evacuation plan.
Planners should assess shelters’ locations, as well as their capabilities and capacities, facilities and resources, in relation to how evacuee traffic will be routed. Municipalities may use this standard as a guide for selecting shelters and planning for shelter services. Based on the location and type of hazard, a municipality can prioritize which areas (sectors) should evacuate first, and have pre-identified decision points and triggers for declaring an evacuation. That authority may lie with key individuals, such as any member of the Municipal Emergency Control Group or a department head. For known site-specific risks, incident-specific information may be added to the municipal evacuation plan. Determine the evacuation area given the emergency situation and estimate the time and resources required to safely evacuate the area.
In addition, consider public education campaigns to advise the public on plans to re-unify families in the event of separation during an emergency. For example, once a building has been evacuated make a mark on the front door or most visible location.
These phases include pre-warning, evacuation, ongoing communications, and return (discussed in the Return section). It is important to ensure that they contain realistic expectations of each municipality’s capabilities. The municipality should work with its records management staff to review its registration and inquiry practices to ensure that they permit the disclosure of evacuee information to relevant parties (i.e.
The Evacuation Coordinator may be responsible for making arrangements for shelter, food, clothing, and other essentials.


This includes restoring the physical infrastructure where possible or desirable as well as addressing the emotional, social, economic and physical well-being of those involved.
If a municipality provided transportation to shelters, it may have to organize return transportation for those evacuees. Consider locations of municipal services, facilities and infrastructure as they may be affected by an evacuation.
It assigns responsibilities to municipal employees, by position, for implementation of the [insert Name of the Municipality] Evacuation Plan. The guideline presents evacuation planning concepts that may be applied for various scales of evacuations and sizes of municipalities. The plan also sets out the procedures for notifying the members of the Municipal Emergency Control Group, municipal and other responders, the public, the province, neighbouring communities, and as required, other impacted and interested parties, of the emergency. Decisions should be made on the review and revision cycle of the plan, and who is responsible for it. Evacuations are often multi-jurisdictional activities, making extensive coordination amongst numerous departments and governments necessary.
More research and analysis will likely be undertaken in the pre-planning phase than is reported in the plan. Sectors may also be established by using census or enumeration areas, or natural geographic barriers.
The nature of the contaminants will vary and different contaminants may require different approaches to decontamination and treatment.
As a result, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) procedures should be incorporated into the evacuation plan. In such scenarios, sheltering in place must be considered as a strategy for protecting public safety (see the Shelter-in-Place section 2.5). The size and demographics of the population are significant factors in determining how to conduct an evacuation. A partial evacuation is most often internal – that is the evacuees are hosted elsewhere within the municipality, rather than being hosted in a separate municipality. Decision-makers must be willing to make decisions with whatever information is available at the time. This will require intensive effort by emergency management personnel to coordinate, transport, and shelter the affected populations, and will place greater demands on staff and resources. If these sites are located on evacuation routes, those routes may be unavailable, and alternatives will need to be identified. Partners that could be involved include the local police service, Ontario Provincial Police, Ministry of Transportation, municipal transportation departments, etc. Given the potentially large numbers of vehicles that will be accessing the roadway network at the same time, it is important to consider what can be done to increase the capacity of roadways.
If possible, transportation staff should employ traffic modeling to test the routes and tactics to be included in the evacuation plan. Assembly points are typically well-known landmarks that have the capacity to handle large numbers of people, have bus access, and an indoor sheltering area.
As part of the planning process, planners should estimate the number of evacuees that may require shelter compared to those who will make their own arrangements. If shelters are run by another organization, it is advisable for municipal staff to work closely with shelter operators to provide regular updates on the emergency situation and for the municipality to be aware of the status of evacuation operations.
Significant evacuee populations may be mapped against the proposed evacuation transportation and sheltering network to determine projected demand levels on their chosen travel routes. The person responsible for maintaining the notification list for internal personnel and external partners should be clearly indicated. Determine the population requiring evacuation based on the type of evacuation required, the delineation of the evacuation area, and the population statistics compiled and analysed during pre-planning. Public alerting may be the responsibility of the Community Emergency Management Coordinator, the Emergency Information Officer, an Evacuation Coordinator, or other as identified by the municipality and outlined in the plan. The agreement should also define the anticipated costs or fees associated with the delivery of the services.
Evacuation operations will remain under the overall direction of the Municipal Emergency Control Group. As with the initial evacuation, numerous resources, especially personnel and transportation related resources will be required to successfully return evacuees to the affected area.
This plan also sets out the procedures for notifying the members of the Municipal Emergency Control Group, municipal and other responders, the public, the province, neighbouring communities, and as required, other impacted and interested parties, of the emergency. The detail required in a Municipal Evacuation Plan may vary according to the needs of the municipality. The plan should identify lead departments and considerations for the development of incident-specific plans (Incident Action Plans). They may have little or no time to wait for additional information because any delay may have a significant impact on public safety. Emergency responders may require personal protective equipment, as responder safety will be critical. In cases where the transportation network is severely restricted by such damage, sheltering in place may be a safer short-term alternative. This will provide data to help quantify the benefits of different strategies and support an informed decision as to the best ones for the particular region and transportation network. Pre-identifying sufficient assembly points in relation to the transportation network and evacuation routes will allow these locations to be incorporated into the evacuation plan. In addition, planners should consider special needs that may need to be accommodated within a shelter (e.g. A clear and succinct notification process must show who is responsible for making the notification contacts and list the primary and secondary notification methods. List details of the population to be evacuated including numbers of evacuees and special requirements.
It may be necessary to establish agreements with other communities when an emergency is threatening or occurring if mutual assistance agreements are not in place or may be insufficient to address the emergency.
If the municipality contracts registration to a third party, the municipality is still responsible for disclosure of the evacuee information. This plan also identifies lead departments and outlines considerations for the development of incident-specific plans (Incident Action Plans).
By providing information about planning techniques, strategies, and tactics, the guideline aids emergency management staffi in determining what information should be considered when creating an evacuation plan. Different types of hazards may dictate variations in the criteria for these categories (e.g.
The Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) should be notified of an evacuation as soon as possible.
This guideline aligns with the Template for the Development of a Municipal Evacuation Plan (Appendix 1).



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