What to do when sirens are wailing? What if the power is out for days? What if people are unable to follow evacuation orders because of mobility problems? In the future, emergency assembly points provide a solution.
Emergency assembly points in case of a blackout
The responsible authorities must be prepared to inform and support the public as quickly as possible in emergency situations. Emergency medical services, police and fire departments also need to be readily available to people who are in need of help. However, if a blackout occurs, most of our conventional means of communication will cease to function. In order to prepare for such scenarios, civil protection authorities are now called upon to establish and operate emergency assembly points. These points are to give people a place to go in case of extended power outages; a place where they will have a secure means of communication and other critical services.
Emergency assembly points in case of an evacuation
The subject of evacuation is especially relevant in the Cantons of Aargau and Solothurn on account of their nuclear power stations. If orders to evacuate are issued, special assistance will need to be given to individuals who are not capable of getting themselves to a safe place. This is why they need to know where to get transport assistance. Designated emergency assembly points are to be established to provide a place for people to gather. The cantonal authorities would then coordinate evacuation transport from those locations.
Planning emergency assembly points
EBP assisted the Department of Military and Civil Protection of the Canton of Aargau and the Office of Military and Civil Protection of the Canton of Solothurn to draft a concept for the introduction of emergency assembly points. The concept defines the functions of the emergency assembly points in case of various emergency situations. It clarifies the roles, as well as the human and material resources necessary for organizing and operating such emergency assembly points. The concept also includes a description of the relevant procedures and channels of communication that are necessary to operate an emergency assembly point.
The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP) provided federal funding for the concept and assisted its drafting. The concept is now to be made available to the remaining Swiss cantons so that they can use it in the context of their own planning.
The role of EBP
EBP completed a first draft of a concept based on input provided by the two cantonal agencies and the FOCP and refined the concept within a framework of workshops before going on to specify its content. The concept is to be used in contingency planning as well as for the operation of the emergency assembly points.
Approximately 450 emergency assembly points in the Cantons of Aargau and Solothurn are planned to begin operations by the spring of 2019.