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Operational Research (OR) has a strong legacy in EMA preparedness, beginning with the award-winning 1960s work for New York (Green & Kolesar 2004). OR models include: Oak Ridge Evacuation Modeling System, OREMS; Evacuation Traffic Information System, ETIS; MassVAC. These analyse evacuation time, flow/congestion, destination percentages and shelter capacity- supporting decisions on evacuation destinations, optimal routes, regulating route flow rate, optimal evacuation rate (Chiu 2007), but mostly on self-evacuations.

OR models also examine building evacuation (eg Cruz et al 2005) and Talebi & Smith's (1985) queuing model analyses similar measures as above but also optimises staff allocation. Other relevant OR analyses: EMA responsiveness (Gendreau et al 2006); modeling mass vaccination clinics (Aaby et al 2004); mass casualties in hospitals (Ohbashi et al 1998); EMA sustained response (Albores & Shaw, forthcoming); urban planning (Wolshon, 2007).

However, preparedness requires multi-agency coordination and Jain & McLean (2003) and Brady (2003) offer such models. OR has ignored EMA-assisted evacuation & marginalised the public.

While most cities have plans for public's evacuation, Alexander (2005) notes there is remarkably little published work and few models for interested EMAs. Basic EMA errors are avoidable eg Fischhoff (2005a) and Quarantelli (2001) agree that officials often prepare the public for an orderly/calm evacuation despite the strong evidence that mass panic is unlikely.

However, little empirical research advises how to best prepare the public for evacuation, although some work exists on catastrophic medical events (Schoch-Spana et al 2007) and mass contamination (Dombroski & FischBeck 2006). Nevertheless, a growing literature on public understanding of risk (eg Fischhoff 2005b) is forming a basis for a behavioural response to evacuation. Despite this O'Brien & Read (2005) note a worrying absence in the UK of bottom-up (public) promotion of preparedness.


Our research methodology is based around working closely with partners from five EU countries and benchmarking against one non-EU country. Partners will be from an emergency management agency (EMA) or have responsibility for emergency preparedness and be able to facilitate our national-level access to the collection of research data, including:

  • Interviews with a selection of analysts on EMA preparedness and on public preparedness;
  • Materials which illustrate your country's approaches to EMA and public preparedness (de-sensitised as appropriate).


Outcomes and Benefits

Our deliverables are very practical as well as theoretical. Partnering countries will be offered the opportunity to benefit from:

  • A confidential feedback report on opportunities for further strengthening their nation's preparedness through analytical models and public programmes.
  • Sharing good practice events, for example:
    • each country will be offered dedicated workshops with the project team that are tailored to their specific strengths and opportunities for strengthening.
    • workshops by partner countries showing their good practice.
  • A central repository of resources, samples and discussion forums for good practice.
  • A framework that we will develop for how countries might measure their preparedness.
  • Key positions in an international conference in 2010 and invitations to contribute to a book.



ERGO is a three year project, running from January 2008 to January 2011

Sponsored by the European Commission