Predominately, the focus at the beginning of each evacuation was getting the citizens out of harm’s way and making sure the public was safe.During the Big Bear Valley incident other focuses arose:
- MARTA’s focus was on getting operators to work to drive the transit buses for the evacuation of the valley.
- The emergency management focus also included ensuring the evacuation routes remained open and safe.
During the evacuation, the focus varied depending on the position of the interviewee. The responses have been categorized into five areas of communication—evacuees, process, resources, security, and transportation.
- Keeping people out of the evacuation zone, dealing with citizens who had left behind pets and medication, and dealing with people concerned with their homes – El Dorado Police Department.
- Making sure there were shelters for the evacuees – Big Bear City Fire Department.
- Dealing with people who passed out and could not evacuate – GVW Fire Department.
- Keeping the drinking wells safe with the contamination on the ground. Residents may have contaminated water when they return – South Salt Lake City Fire Department.
- Maintaining an orderly procession of people out of the valley – Big Bear City Fire Department.
- Having additional law enforcement once people were evacuated from the valley to provide security for property – Big Bear City Fire Department.
- Getting people out of the valley while at the same time bringing resources into the valley using the same two routes – Big Bear City Fire Department.
- Keeping sightseers out of the evacuation zone – Union County Emergency Management.
- Keeping unauthorized people and “rubberneckers” out of the evacuated areas – South Salt Lake City Police Department.
- Providing security for the evacuated area – South Salt Lake City Police Department.
- Dealing with elderly residents who did not have a way out of the evacuation zone – GVW Fire Department.
- Ensuring the interstate ramps were closed, ensuring the right ramps were closed, and determining where to put the displaced traffic – Utah Department of Transportation.
- Evaluating the transportation of pets – MARTA.
- Providing information on traffic conditions – California Department of Transportation.
Handling the reentry of vehicles back into the evacuation area – MARTA.
After the evacuation, again responses varied depending on the entity. The responses have been categorized by communication, evacuees, process, security, and transportation.
- Notifying people of when they could return home. They had no idea where people went, so the media was used to alert residents when they could return home – South Salt Lake City Police Department.
- Allowing people back into their homes – El Dorado Police Department.
- Handling the reentry of residents back into the valley – MARTA.
- Dealing with the after effects of the fire, smoke and chemicals in the air – Union County Emergency Management.
- Providing animal rescue from the evacuation zone – GVW Fire Department.
- Fighting the fire – Big Bear City Fire Department.
- Making sure homes were safe to return to, conducting ground testing of the air near evacuated residential homes, and if possible conducting swab tests inside homes for chemical residue – Union County Emergency Management
- Making sure everyone was accounted for – GVW Fire Department.
- Providing security for the abandoned homes. Some homes were found in disarray, and there was concern about break-ins until they realized the residents left quickly – Big Bear City Fire Department.
- Educating the public about the closures and how to maneuver around the area – Utah Department of Transportation.
- Determining how quickly traffic management could be restored – Utah Department of Transportation.
- Making sure the roadways were safe – California Department of Transportation.
- Providing traffic control for the return of residents – South Salt Lake City Police Department.
Generally, the immediate focus at the start of the evacuation is to move residents out of the evacuation zone. After that, the focus depends on the entity and its role in the incident.
February 6, 2006