What to do when the assembly area is no longer safe?
Regardless of climate change speculation, fuel reduction arguments, catastrophic fire ratings or just plain old arson, bushfires will always be a threat in Australia. Generally, businesses and entities are reasonably aware of the constant threat and many have some type of plan for emergency response, especially those in higher-risk areas.
One thing that has become noticeable with our clients involved in the recent bushfires was their ability to evacuate large business parks or education campuses at short notice.
We are reasonably good at evacuating one building, we are even sometimes good at getting everyone to a single safe assembly area, but the complications start when being on the premise is no longer an option. Some of the questions raised include,
- Who is in charge on the ground?
- How do we communicate with other buildings in our precinct?
- How do we account for everyone?
And most importantly,
- Where do we go?
Whole precinct or campus evacuation is a reality, for many reasons, not just bushfire. Don’t over-think the variables, the simplest plan is the best plan. You need to address how you are going to communicate in and around your precinct. Just like a building, you may need to consider clear egress routes, for vehicular and pedestrian evacuees. You may allow everyone to leave if circumstances permit, but you may also have to have a safe, off precinct, predetermined assembly area where all persons can be directed to.
Planning this ahead gives you a better platform to work from. Whilst every emergency can be different, having fewer decisions to make and having predetermined, simplistic responses, implies the management of the emergency will be far more effective.
Do you have a Emergency Management Plan in place?