How Important is Evacuation Pre-Planning?

what does pre planning mean to you wordleThis question was the subject of the February 8th Zonehaven Office Hours roundtable discussion. At the beginning of the meeting, participants were asked to offer a few words that described what “evacuation pre-planning” means. Words and phrases like proactive, strategy, prepared, needed, and starting point quickly illustrated the necessity for creating a plan.

Raed Al-Zaher, Community Fire & Emergency Preparedness Project Manager with the City of San Rafael said, “Having a pre-plan established of who’s going to be in the EOC and what job they’ll have when we have time instead of trying to scramble to fill that position later is always beneficial to us. It gives us a chance to practice and get that under the gun, but also lets us have that comfort level of knowing who’s coming into the EOC and having experience with how they’ve carried out their job in the past.”

FrameWhile the pre-planning process itself can be initially labor intensive, the work you do now is an investment that pays off in the long run by relieving stress and increasing operational efficiency during an actual incident. In response to customer needs, Zonehaven EVAC includes tools to simplify the pre-planning process and has given authorized users the ability to customize their plans to suit the needs of their respective communities. The ability to click on a zone in the EVAC app and view pre-identified critical evacuation facilities, potential traffic control points, and resources speeds up the process of mobilization during an evacuation event. Pre-plans for individual zones or books of up to 90 zones can be printed and distributed to relevant personnel, or kept as PDFs and dropped into computer aided dispatch systems for access by EMS personnel in the field or added to agency incident action plans. This valuable tool can be quickly updated and adapted as incidents evolve and then scaled back to baseline once things return to normal. The user is in complete control of the level to which they use this module, even if it’s only to print a map with the description of the zone boundaries included. While the evacuation plan and details within it aren’t visible on AWARE (the public facing site), certain details such as shelter locations or rally points can be toggled on by agency users so that they are visible to the community during an incident, then toggled off when no longer needed.

For more information on getting started with pre-planning and answers to many other questions, visit our Help Center at You can also find training videos and community outreach materials to help both agency and community users better understand Zonehaven.

Need ideas on how to make the most of the tools in your Zonehaven toolbox or have questions about features? Join our team along with app users from around the country for our weekly “Office Hours” discussions. RSVP for Zonehaven Office Hours

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