Evacuation & Transportation

Inclusive planning is essential to ensure the safe, efficient, successful evacuation of individuals with access and functional needs. Emergency evacuation plans should be developed in close partnership with whole community representatives, including individuals with lived experience. When local evacuations become necessary, considerations for the whole community, including accessible transportation options, medical needs, and keeping individuals connected with their families, personal care providers, essential equipment, assistive technologies, and service animals are critically important.

As communities change, and because integrating access or functional considerations is a dynamic process, evacuation plans should be viewed as living documents. As such, emergency managers, in partnership with their local communities, should regularly practice, review, revise, and update their plans to reflect changes in best practices, technology, personnel, and procedures.


Emergency managers and individuals with access and functional needs continue to face challenges associated with developing integrated, accessible evacuation plans. Local jurisdictions and community partners throughout the state have asked for a resource outlining the specific considerations necessary to address this important issue.

To empower local jurisdictions and the community with the guidance, best practices, and informational resources needed to strengthen plans for the successful evacuation of individuals with access and functional needs in disasters, Cal OES created the Integrated Evacuation Planning for Jurisdictions and Individuals with Access and Functional Needs guide. This guide is designed to empower local jurisdictions and individuals with access and functional needs to develop comprehensive and inclusive emergency evacuation plans that benefit the whole community.

The guide is available in English through the AFN Library and is available in the following languages:

Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese

Important Considerations for Evacuation and Transportation Planning:

  • Inclusive planning is of paramount importance. Involve representatives with access and functional needs throughout the development of the emergency evacuation plan.
  • During major events, the number of individuals requiring accessible evacuation resources will likely exceed the number of transportation assets available within a given jurisdiction. To ensure surge capacity, counties should have contracts in place with accessible transportation providers within the jurisdiction and with providers in surrounding jurisdictions.
  • Working with community partners, jurisdictions should create a consistent process (e.g. a phone number) individuals with access and functional needs can use to secure emergency transportation services.
  • Emergency transportation contracts should be executable 24/7, provide on demand or taxi-like service for evacuees, and be offered at no cost to survivors.

Disaster Registries

The official guidance from Cal OES regarding voluntary disaster registries is that jurisdictions should not use them.

The idea of a voluntary disaster registry is simple – create a list of individuals who need additional support during emergencies which the government can use to help when a crisis strikes. However, the successful development, protection, adoption, and implementation of disaster registries is incredibly complex. However, registries often give individuals a false sense of confidence that because they are on a list, they will receive additional resources or priority response services during emergencies. This false assumption is dangerous and can lead to an overall decrease in personal disaster preparedness. In addition, as opt-in programs, registries provide emergency managers with an incomplete picture of the access and functional needs-related dynamic in their community. Registries are difficult to keep current and it can be challenging to protect the personal identifying information these lists contain.

A successful alternative to voluntary disaster registries is for local jurisdictions to leverage existing disability and accessible or functional needs-related support systems, such as community-based organizations, Independent Living Centers, and local Access and Functional Needs Advisory Committees.

Click here to view the CalOES Voluntary Disaster Registry Planning Guidance