If you have international operations or business travellers, then you need to read this article. Following years of experience and numerous practical tests, here are the top 10 logistics issues associated with international evacuations that determine the success or failure of any evacuation plan due to international or transnational crisis.
This article will analyze and discuss the logistics considerations in order to assist planners and managers in developing the best possible and adaptive evacuation plans.
By the end of this article, you will immediately be able to add the priority logistics elements into existing plans or commence the process to create your own safety and security evacuation plan.
I have written, reviewed and implemented numerous evacuation plans over the years and have significant experience in what works and what invariably frustrates the evacuation operations unnecessarily.
Through this extensive theoretical and practical experience I will seek to distill the primary stages and priority tactile issues that must be considered or included in any plan to ensure a successful outcome.
Logistics relates to all the resources, cost, support and administration required to come together during an evacuation.
Accommodation requirements fall into three broad categories.
Private accommodation, as usually occupied by the traveller or expat in country.
Evacuation accommodation, such as the pre-identified and planned accommodation to be used in the event of an evacuation that may or may not be part of your existing/routine accommodation plan.
Ad-hoc accommodation, such as taking immediate refuge at a school, shelter, shopping complex or embassy as was necessitated by the sudden onset of events that forced personnel into non-planned accommodation options.
All required, and likely ad-hoc accommodation, needs to be both identified and documented in the plan.
These locations need to be independently documented in the appendices as a lift out guide/review and put into the continually updated evacuation mapping support tools.
By having each location as a lift out guide, they become more readily accessible in the event of an emergency, easily shared and updated between planners and traveler/expats and they may already be or become part of your routine accommodation plans within the area.
Muster areas, assembly points and channels for movement must be scripted where possible.
Emergency services and support must be evaluated and integrated into the plan.
Identification and mapping of relevant and proximal government and emergency services is required.
Ambulance, police, hospital, government shelters, embassies and the like constitute possible ad-hoc accommodation options, highly dependent on the nature of the threat, access, language and cultural elements.
Transportation choice for individual and group moves are required.
Private vehicles, buses, protected vehicles, government shuttles, military convoys and other options need to be considered during
the planning phase but also captured in the resources guide.
Redundant options, transfers, escorts, guides, drivers, spare parts, navigation, emergency stores, actions on, supplies, speed, traffic, road condition, luggage and first aid requirements should also be addressed in support of both static and mobile logistic options.
Much like the appropriateness of an evacuation plan, the logistics are dependent on planning and change management.
Vendors and support resources may appear to be ideal in isolation but fail on the day or time of activation because of poor planning, lack of understanding or over dependence on any one solution.
They may also fail because everyone wants to use them and they lack the surge or scale to accommodate everyone’s demands.
Attempting to put together an alternate or ad-hoc solution in the midst of an emergency situation is always less effective than pre-developed “channels” for choice and activation.
Payment of services and even retainers are a matter for consideration.
Do you have a direct relationship or payment system in place?
Do you have the correct currency or cash reserves for payment of services?
How do you secure and manage such liquidable assets during unrest or emergency?
Is there likely to be profiteering or acts of piracy to increase prices significantly when demand significantly outstrips supply?
Ensure your financial management and response is measured and controlled but allows for change and circumstances beyond your control.
Financial compensation and insurance must also be addressed.
What are your limits, guidelines, standards and buying options that are pre-defined by your insurance policy or internal policies?
Some of these areas may be confidential (kidnap and ransom) but knowledge and access should be clearly identifiable to those charged with managing and implementing the resulting plan/s.
Resources are likely to be highly customized to each-and-every location.
No two countries, cities, suburbs or circumstances can be replicated nor will the choice of resources be the same either.
Cultural adaptations or simply making do with the best available options may end up being the order of the day.
Do not forget that logistic support and resources are not limited to the location of incident and point of departure but also the point of arrival, transit, diversion and end locations too.
While the plan and focus may be on the narrow concerns on the ground, much consideration and focus is also required for where your going to, where all or some of the evacuees will spend time, any counselling or administration that will need to be conducted before people arrive at the final stage of the evacuation.
Government facilitators, guides, translators, nannies, medical support personnel, specialists and administrators must be inclusive of this stage and clearly identifiable and contactable.
Tracking formats and criteria such as manifests, evacuee bio data, report lines, contact details, next of kin and other management tools need to be accessible and pre-formatted.
Mode of transport is optional but all points of contact, planning considerations/limitations, contingencies, owners, agents, brokers and captains need to be identified.
Fuel, load capacity, configurations, clearance, crew rest, back up crews, country of origin, civil or military, serviceability, cost, handling, range, weather conditions/limitations, runway/port access and the possibility of every affected individual swarming to your chosen means of evacuation in the absence of an alternate solution need to be considered and detailed as to how they will be managed, utilized or overcome.
Government Assisted Evacuations
Some governments offer support or free evacuation support.
This is highly dependent on high level relationships, events of the day, politics, economic sensitivities, official view of the situation and response/scale capacity of the responding government.
Despite these options or offerings, independent plans should always be in place or accessible should these “free” government options fail, be delayed or present greater threat than your own discreet alternatives.
Having been involved in government evacuation planning and operations I can assure you that they are not the well oiled machines that one might expect and they can/do fail outright.
Additionally, from experience, it may not be your best option to be transported on a military aircraft as you pass through hostile airspace in which ground forces see opportunity to target foreign military aircraft.
If you are to use such resources or end up on such a transport choice you also need to consider your supporting logistics to a location or destination that was never within your planning considerations but now the location in which evacuees disembark and you need to support.
Medical, administration, safety and security all have a role to play but do they mix well or do they have competing agendas?
Beware circumstances which leave you with difficult or avoidable choices where a medical/security imperative splits your evacuee group/s because an insurance policy or support provider recommends to do one thing and your policy dictates another.
Know all the terms and conditions in advance and likely stressors that may occur and be prepared.
Never discount professional advice as all your planning may be for naught if your have made the wrong assumptions, chosen the wrong resources or even plan on heading in the wrong direction/country only to discover on the day that it all has to be abandoned and a new/ad-hoc plan developed on the spot due to such failings.
All resources should be added to the appendices in a ready-to-remove and access format.
Elements or the entire section can then be quickly disseminated or updated without the need to read the entire plan from beginning to end.
Logistics forms a vital and major portion of any evacuation plan but it does not dominate the end product that must be both accessible and actionable by decision makers and evacuees alike.
In this article we addressed the key logistics issues associated with international evacuations and transnational crisis.
This article analysed and discussed the logistics considerations in order to assist planners and managers in developing the best possible and adaptive evacuation plans.
You will now be able to add the priority logistics elements into existing plans or commence the process to create your own safety and security evacuation plan.