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Hospital evacuation

Evacuate. Abaondon, flee, get out, take off, depart, desert, vacate, get the hell out, withdraw, hightail, relinquish, jump ship, bail out, pack up, skidaddle, head for the hills...

Hospital evacuation might be the epitome of disaster medicine. When our best-laid plans for the worst-case scenarios have been exhausted, evacuating a facility reflects all the challenges of disaster management -- rarity and severity; vulnerability with all the most at-risk people concentrated in one place; complexity; time-sensitivity; etc. Add to that the usual thorns in the side of emergency management - lack of training, lack of budget, unclear oversight -- and you get...[insert disaster cliché here]. Charles-Antoine Duval, Emergency Manager at QM Environmental, and Mary Wendylane Oberas, emergency management student at Fanshawe College, write about developing a toolkit for full-facility evacuation in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Management.

Photo by Jorick Jing from

Aspects they invite us to consider:

-preparation, and evaluating vulnerabilities and critical infrastructure



-patient priority

-evacuation routes

-equipment distribution

-external networks

-regional resilience

These last two highlight an important principle in disaster response - the need for collaboration and communication outside one’s own organization. As disasters by definition involve multiple levels, preparations cannot be considered in isolation of other departments, facilities, agencies, and external resources.

We've added a Hospital Evacuation section under Disaster Planning resources. Check it out and feel free to send us resources you've found in this area.

"Mostly we need to stop being surprised"

Juliette Kayyem, security analyst and author of

The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters


Duval, C.A., Operas, M.W. (2022). Canadian Journal of Emergency Management. Department-level planning and preparedness: A toolkit to assist in full-facility hospital evacuation. 2(2);7-16.

see also Barten, Dennis G., et al. "Three decades of hospital evacuations in the Netherlands: a scoping review." International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (2022): 103252.

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