The French High Committee for Civil Defense has invited Hagerty Consulting of Evanston to provide expertise and best practice planning solutions at a Mass Evacuation planning meeting in Paris this week.

The meeting Thursday will bring together 200 civil defense officials from France and the United Kingdom and will focus on life safety evacuation planning for all man-made and natural hazards.

Hagerty Vice President Brock Long will provide the keynote address and provide technical expertise regarding how to design time-phased evacuation plans for large urban areas. 

Over the past decade, the United States and other countries, such as Japan, have experienced several large scale evacuation events as a result of hurricanes, tsunamis, wildfires, and other hazardous materials events.

These events have caused communities around the world to reassess their vulnerability to various hazards and their capability to implement effective life-saving evacuation procedures. 

Long served as the director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency before joining Hagerty and made several real-life evacuation recommendations to the governor during his tenure.

“Often the roadway network cannot support mass evacuation plans as they have been traditionally designed,” Long says.

“With populations growing in urban areas and in other vulnerable locations such as coastal communities, officials must find ways to keep citizens safe while reducing the number of people asked to evacuate, the distance that they must travel to seek safe shelter, and create strategies to relocate citizens to safe areas within their community before being asked to evacuate 100’s of miles from their homes,” he added.

Effective strategies, Long says, involve establishing clearly defined evacuation zones for communities with multiple options, clear and effective notification procedures to citizens, and ample shelter opportunities closer to the communities under an evacuation order.

He says traditional evacuation plans failed to incorporate shelter-in-place procedures and have been designed to move people great distances which can overload the transportation network and increase the dangers presented to evacuees. 

Hagerty Consulting, an emergency management and homeland security firm, helps communities, businesses, and universities prepare for, respond to, and recover from, disaster events.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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