Mass Evacuation Transportation Planning Model

A colleague in Montgomery County forwarded to me an email from AHRQ about the Mass Evacuation Transportation Planning Model. According to the AHRQ web site, “This model estimates the time required to evacuate patients in healthcare facilities and transport them to receiving facilities.” The model was developed by Tom Rich and Myfanwy Callahan under funding from DHS and HHS.

The web-based tool has a nice interface that allows one to create a new scenario, open a saved scenario, evaluate a scenario, and get help. The help consists of a user’s manual and a report about the model’s details. Building a model requires specifying the number of vehicles available for transport, selecting a metropolitan area (from the list given), the number of facilities sending patients (along with how many patients), and the number of facilities accepting patients. The model includes four types of patients based on the type of transportation needed. The model determines the time to move patients between facilities based on average times between hospitals in representative cities. Thus, the user does not need to enter actual facility locations. The user can save the scenario as a XML file that is downloaded onto the user’s computer and can upload the saved scenario as well.

The model estimates the total evacuation time, defined as “the total time from the beginning of the evacuation until the last evacuee is on a vehicle for transport to a receiving facility.” It also determines for each type of patient the evacuation time and the number of round trips of that type of vehicle.

Ethical Decision Making for Public Health

Computer models are good for evaluating the performance of a system like a POD and finding the best way to distribute medication, but they cannot resolve the ethical issues involved in sharing limited resources. There is, of course, no easy answer to these problems. This week’s session on Hot Topics in Preparedness discussed this issue. Dr. Harvey Kayman, from the University of California, Berkeley, and the California Department of Public Health, presented some of the key principles that one should consider. His presentation includes valuable references to scholarly papers, case studies, and legal opinions for further reading.

Dr. Kayman’s presentation also discusses the need to setup a process for decision-making during a crisis and presents some guidelines for doing this. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work with some hospitals here in Maryland to design such a decision-making process (this one for hospital mutual aid), and we documented our decision-making process design approach in the following technical report: Designing a Decision-Making System for Exceptional Events: the Case of Medical Disaster Mutual Aid.

Pictogram-based Signs for Mass Prophylaxis Services

The Cambridge Advanced Practice Center for Emergency Preparedness has created a set of signs for use in PODs and similar settings. Each of the nine signs has a one-word description (in English and repeated in Spanish) and a pictogram. Colors are used to classify the signs into four basic categories.

The signs remind me of the figures that one always sees at the Olympics to represent the different sports. You can get high resolution PDF versions by contacting