Communities throughout the country continue to wrestle with the complex issues of how to effectively transport people with access and functional needs during critical incidents. The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal EMA) Office for Access and Functional Needs has released planning guidance on this issue, but considerable work remains to be done in many counties throughout the state.
Implementing a large-scale evacuation and meeting the transit and paratransit requirements of people with access and functional needs is a major challenge – a challenge that can only be met through an inclusive planning process that begins long before a major disaster prompts an evacuation. Planning should include everyone from transit providers and emergency managers to advocacy groups, licensed care facilities, first responders, hospitals, schools, nonprofit organizations and people with access and functional needs themselves. And that is just the beginning. In the Resources section of this toolkit there is a template for the full spectrum of community stakeholders who should be included in the process.
This toolkit was produced as part of a pilot project to support counties in planning for the evacuation and transportation needs of all their citizens during an emergency. It is our hope that it provides you with an introduction to some of the important issues to consider while planning for a large scale evacuation and provides some valuable tools to make the job a little bit easier.