Edinburgh unveils plans for emergency evacuation

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The City of Edinburgh Council has today published information on what to do if parts of the city needed to be evacuated in the event of a major incident.

Residents and businesses within Edinburgh city centre were today urged to make an evacuation plan in the event that parts of the city needed to be evacuated should there be what would be considered a major incident.

Following on from many other major cities within the UK, who already have plans in place, Edinburgh published an emergency plan which the Council say they hope never needs to be used. They also say there is no specific threat to the city.

Advising residents on what to do in the event of an emergency evacuation the Council points out that in such an emergency loss of vital services to properties could occur meaning households lose telephones, water, gas and electricity. Property could be damaged quickly due to fire or flood and the Council urge residents to be prepared in advance. The Council suggest the preparation of a "grab bag" and give advice on what residents can do now to be prepared.

What you can do now
1. Create a 'grab bag' with essentials such as a change of clothes, toiletries and important notes (e.g. insurance details or contact information). Also, if you need it, remember to add:
Medication
Car and house keys
Cash and bank cards
Glasses or contact lenses
Any special items for babies, children, and elderly or disabled people.

2. Store next-of-kin details in your mobile phone, wallet or purse under the note 'ICE'. This stands for 'in case of emergency' and will help the emergency services know who to contact if you are not able to tell them.

The Council advice then moves on to advising what to do should an evacuation take place.

If there is an evacuation

If there is an emergency and your home or area is being evacuated:
Listen closely to or read instructions.
Go where you are advised
Take your grab bag with you (clothes, toiletries, essential information, medication, keys, cash/cards, glasses/lenses, special items for family).
Don't take your car unless advised otherwise.
Make sure your pets are safe and secure if you are not taking them with you.
Do not delay your departure unnecessarily.
If you need assistance, look for someone in uniform and/or wearing a high visibility jacket.
Arrangements will be made to look after children at school or nursery within the affected zones.

As part of the evacuation plan, made in conjunction with Lothian and Borders Police, businesses within the city centre region of the city have also been advised to put together a plan for evacuating their properties making it safe for all employees, taking into consideration any special arrangements that may have to be made in a hurry.

The key points for businesses are;
Identification of evacuation assembly points to which people will be directed.
Traffic and transport management arrangements.
Identification of sites or buildings that may need special arrangements.
Support for vulnerable groups and for ensuring evacuees' welfare.
Arrangements for initial and ongoing communications within the area evacuated and at evacuation assembly points.

Although the implementation of the emergency plan can take place in any part of the city the Council are currently focussing on the central part of the city from Haymarket through to the Castle and onto Holyrood Park. Emergency services have divided the area into zones to allow for partial evacuation if the situation requires only that.

In the city centre area there is a population of around 70,000 which can increase by a significant amount throughout the summer.

Keen to point out that this plan is only being put into place in event of emergency and as part of the Councils obligation to the Civil Contingencies legislation, Dave Anderson, Director of City Development, said, "Although Edinburgh has seen a number of incidents over the years, including major fires and building collapses, there has never been a widespread evacuation in the city and we hope this plan will never be required. However, being ready for the unexpected is sound business practice and we urge all organisations in Edinburgh to ensure they have arrangements in place to help them cope with disruptions to their normal operations."

As part of the plan the Council say that the public would be informed over various mediums. Twitter would be one source with messages placed on the Council and Lothian and Borders Police Twitter sites. Radio systems within shops and other public places such as bars or rail stations would be used to broadcast and the local media would also be used in the same way to get messages across to the public. Roadside message boards would also display advice and information.

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