Evacuation & Transportation


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 & technologies, and service animals are important. Proper planning is essential to a successful evacuation. Emergency evacuation plans should be viewed as living documents because communities change and integrating the needs of people with AFN is a dynamic process. Emergency managers with their local communities should regularly practice, review, revise, and update their plans to reflect changes in technology, personnel, and procedures.


The best way to ensure the transportation-related needs of individuals with access and functional considerations are met before, during, and after large-scale evacuations is to engage whole community partners throughout the planning process. Planning should include everyone from transit providers and emergency managers to advocacy groups, licensed care facilities, first responders, individuals with access and functional needs, community-based organizations, and others.

Evacuation and Transportation Planning Guidance

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.

The Integrated Evacuation Planning for Jurisdictions and Individuals with Access and Functional Needs is intended to provide local jurisdictions with the guidance, best practices, and informational resources needed to strengthen their plans for the successful evacuation of individuals with access and functional needs in disasters. 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







Consider the following in your evacuation and transportation planning:

  • Do plans identify how individuals with access and functional needs will evacuate the community?
  • Involve representatives with access and functional needs throughout the development of the emergency evacuation plan.
  • Does the county have agreements within the jurisdiction with accessible transportation providers to evacuate individuals during disasters?
  • Does the county have agreements with surrounding jurisdictions to leverage additional accessible transportation resources nearby, as needed?
  • Is there a phone number individuals with access and functional needs can call to secure 24/7 on-demand transportation services?
  • Are Community-based Organizations offering accessible transportation incorporated into evacuation plans (including the use of vehicles, drivers, and dispatch)?
  • Will services be free to evacuees?
  • Do drills/exercises incorporate first responders, accessible transportation providers, and people with access and functional needs?

Disaster Registries

Disasters, regardless of type, disproportionately affect individuals with access and functional needs – a term defined in Government Code section 8593.3, as individuals who have:

  • Developmental, intellectual or physical disabilities
  • Chronic conditions or injuries
  • Limited English proficiency or who are non-English speaking

Or, individuals who are:

  • Older adults, children, or pregnant
  • Living in institutional settings
  • Low-income, homeless, and/or transportation disadvantaged

This disproportionate impact results in higher incidents of fatalities, suffering, and personal hardship among historically “vulnerable” populations before, during, and following emergencies compared to individuals who do not have access or functional needs. To close this gap, and strive for increased safety, security, and independence among all members of the community, some local jurisdictions use voluntary disaster registries.

The idea of a voluntary disaster registry is simple – create a list of individuals who need additional support during emergencies which government can use to help when crisis strikes. However, the successful development, protection, adoption, and implementation of disaster registries is incredibly complex. While Cal OES advises against the use of voluntary disaster registries, jurisdictions should decide what works for their own unique situations.

It is important to note that registries can give registrants 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, these registries provide emergency managers with an incomplete picture of access and functional needs in their community. Further, such lists are difficult to keep current and it can be challenging to protect the personal identifying information that these lists contain.

Access and functional needs and at-risk populations can reach nearly to infinity (e.g. disabilities, languages, age). Many of these “classifications” can compound the sense of vulnerability for the potential transit client in an emergency. For example, people with access and functional needs may not want to draw attention to the fact that they live alone, making them even more vulnerable for predators.

Local jurisdictions are encouraged to leverage existing disability and older adults service systems, such as In-Home Supportive Services, Meals-on-Wheels and Paratransit, as opposed to creating new registries. Information can be gleaned from a variety of sources to provide the comprehensive information necessary to inform emergency planning and response.

Click here to view the CalOES Voluntary Disaster Registry Planning Guidance