Evacuation is the removal of residents from a given area that has been deemed a danger zone. Evacuation requires the notification of the Primary Control Group Chair in all cases and that other guidelines as per the Sarnia Emergency Management Operational Guides to be followed .
Shelter-in-place is the process of keeping residents indoors in an attempt to lessen the effects of the emergency. Sheltering-in-place requires the notification of the Primary Control Group Chair in all cases and that other guidelines as per the Sarnia Emergency Management Operational Guides to be followed.
Public Notification is the process of informing the community of a potential or existing emergency situation.
The City of Sarnia has Emergency Detour Routes posted to re route traffic during an Emergency road closure but they have not posted Emergency Evacuation Routes. Emergency Evacuation Routes are always dependent on the extent, location and scope of the emergency therefore there is no set emergency evacuation route applicable in all cases. The Primary Control Group at the Sarnia Emergency Operations Centre in the Sarnia Police Service will assess each situation. It will be this Control Group that will issue a Shelter-In-Place or Evacuation order. If it issues an evacuation order, it will also state the routes that are to be followed and also the destinations for evacuees. It is important for the public to adhere to evacuation instructions to avoid further delays in traffic congestion that may occur. (See Sarnia Emergency Management Operational Guides )
4.5 When to Evacuate
Evacuations can and should be considered under two sets of circumstances:
- Life saving
a. Precautionary Evacuations
The key elements are time and potential risk. The logistics of evacuating a segment of the community is overwhelming. Emergency management personnel must evaluate the following criteria before making the decision to conduct a precautionary evacuation.
Time - Is there enough time to evacuate the given area? This includes notifying the citizens, setting up a reception centre, calling out additional resources, etc.
- Is the problem likely to escalate?
- What would the impact be if it does?
- Are toxic gases or vapours involved?
- How long is the incident likely to continue?
- What are existing resources?
All of these factors must be considered when a precautionary evacuation is being entertained. The Primary Control Group usually initiates precautionary evacuations.
b. Life Saving Evacuations
The other type of evacuation is that of the life saving evacuation. Section 3.5 outlines the criteria of life saving operations. Emergency Management personnel must consider the following criteria:
- Is the problem likely to escalate?
- What is the impact if it does?
- Is the situation virtually over?
- Is there any time to conduct the evacuation?
Life saving evacuations are usually conducted immediately following the incident. First responders on the scene initiate life saving evacuations, utilizing the closest most appropriate facility as a Reception Centre. Such was the case in July of 1991 when a propane fire resulted in the evacuation of a southerly segment of Sarnia.
A Shelter-In-Place Order will be issued when the potential risk is seen as short in longevity. The philosophy is that it makes more sense to keep the people in their homes or businesses, than ask them to evacuate, hence running the risk of getting caught in transit.
Sheltering-In-Place should be entertained when:
- The situation will be short lived, such as a toxic gas or vapour cloud passing over the city.
- The law of averages suggests loss of property and life will be less if people are not centralized in one location, such as a tornado.
- Time is not available.
- The velocity of the wind is high and the direction is appropriate.
The instructions that should go out to the community during a Shelter-In-Place, that is the result of a toxic gas or vapour release, is:
- Go inside.
- Close doors and windows.
- Shut off ventilation systems.
- Run a sink of water to wet towels and a covered supply of drinking water in the refrigerator.
- Place wet towels along base of doors, etc.
Instructions on where to go in the home are also very important. A propensity to go to the basement tends to take over. The problem here is that toxic gas releases that require evacuation are usually always heavier than air, meaning they settle in low places. This could lead to tragedy, if in fact; persons congregate in a low area when they should be as elevated as possible. Emergency Management Personnel should always obtain this information prior to issuing any containment order.
4.7 How to Evacuate
All evacuations have key elements. The following steps should be followed in this order.
- Assess the situation.
- Consider possible escalation of the situation.
- Make the decision to evacuate.
- Determine what the evacuation parameters are.
- Determine where the Reception Centre is going to be located.
- Notify the Reception Center Manager to set up a Reception Centre.
- Establish communication with the Reception Centre (this can be done by dispatching the Amateur Radio Club).
- If the Primary Control Group is not congregated, assemble them.
- Prepare a Public Notification News Release.
- Notify the local radio stations, asking them to broadcast the Public Notification News Release.
- Activate the Cable T.V. Early Warning System and Sirens.
- Conduct follow-up actions.
Notwithstanding that all of the above-mentioned steps are consistent in both precautionary and life saving operations, the only factor that will change is who is initiating the evacuation.
Life saving evacuations could be initiated by the Sarnia Fire & Rescue Services and / or by the Sarnia Police Service. In all cases it will be the Sarnia Police service that will be responsible for the evacuation and call out of Emergency Reception Centre set up. This provides continuity of response for small or large evacuations and frees up operations for the incident commander. Large-scale evacuations require a number of resources to manage evacuation route and traffic management issues, which is predominately a policing issue.
The Primary Control Group will initiate precautionary Evacuations.
There is a Cable Television Early Warning System. This system gives The Sarnia Police Services the opportunity to interrupt channels on the cable television network. This is accomplished by dialling a three-digit access code into a red telephone marked Cable T.V. in the Operations Centre. Anything said over that phone is rebroadcast on most cable television channels.
The local radio stations augment the entire system. The radio stations instruct the community as to what is expected of them. The Sarnia Police Service has the ability to break in to the satellite transmission between the hours of 12:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. through the Early Alert Radio System (EARS PROGRAM).
The Sarnia Police Service also activates municipal outdoor sirens currently only in the south end of the City of Sarnia.
A Reception Centre is a centre in a location that is considered a safe area. The Reception Centre is intended to receive evacuees (For a detailed Internal Protocol for Emergency Reception Centre Plan the Sarnia Emergency Management Operational Guides will be followed. Normally a reception centre requires the following essentials:
- Large meeting room, like a hall or gym
- Washroom facilities
- Kitchen facilities
- Adequate parking
- Heat, hydro, etc.
Sarnia Community Services staff, assisted by the Salvation Army of Sarnia and various volunteer agencies are responsible for setting up a Reception Centre. It is essential that certain issues be considered when setting up a reception centre. They are:
- A Reception Centre Manager
- A place to facilitate the registration of evacuees and respond to their inquiries (This provided by the Sarnia-Lambton Red Cross.
- A Personnel Needs Centre
- Food and Beverage Centre
- Clothing Centre
- Lodging Centre
- Security Centre
- A location for media briefings
- First Aid
- Care for the victims, etc.
The Reception Centre Manager is responsible for the entire Reception Centre.
He/she will ensure:
- Proper set up of the Reception Centre occurs
- Proper liaison with volunteer organizations occurs
- Timely updates are provided to the evacuees, following an evacuation.
4.12 Reception Centre Kit
Extra Reception Centre Kits are located in the Emergency Operations Centre, In Shelter Trailers and will be required when a Reception Centre is assembled. (Sarnia Emergency Management Operational Guides )
A list of Recognized Reception Centres as follows:
- Lambton College (Permanent Reception Centre kits in place)
- St. Clair High School
- St. Patrick's High School
- Alexander Mackenzie High School
- Northern High School
- St. Christopher’s High School
- S.C.I.& T.S. High School
4.14 For smaller incidents the City of Sarnia will use City owned building as short-term reception centres based on the level of need. (Sarnia Emergency Management Operational Guides