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Hospital Evacuation Decision Guide

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.

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Table 3. Guide Terminology and Acronyms

Term Definition
Advanced Warning Event A disaster that decision teams and staff are tracking, as they consider whether it may warrant evacuating their facility.
AHRQ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
ALS Advanced Life Support (ambulance)
BLS Basic Life Support (ambulance)
Closed Hospital A hospital that has evacuated all patients and staff and is no longer providing inpatient, outpatient, or emergency services. Inspection and relicensure will be required prior to reopening.
Critical Infrastructure Assets, including physical systems, other support systems, and staff, that are essential to operate a hospital and provide a standard level of care to patients.
DoD Department of Defense
EMAC Emergency Management Assistance Compact
Evacuation Moving most or all patients and staff out of a hospital and transporting them to other facilities where medical care will be provided.
Evacuation Sequence The numercial order in which hospitalized patients are evacuated.
Evacuation Time The length of time to move all hospitalized patients out of a hospital and safely transport them to receiving care sites.
Event A disaster that causes enough damage to a hospital or the surrounding community so that decision teams consider evacuating the hospital.
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
HICS Hospital Incident Command System
HVAC Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems
Impending Event A disaster that has the potential to cause enough damage to a hospital or the surrounding community that decision teams consider pre-event evacuation.
ICS Incident Command System
ICU Intensive Care Unit
IT Information Technology
NDMS National Disaster Medical System
NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
NIMS National Incident Management System
NIPP National Infrastructure Protection Plan
No Advanced Warning Event A disaster that occurs without any warning.
PICU Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Pre-Event Decision The decision whether, faced with an impending event, to 1) preemptively evacuate a hospital or 2) shelter-in-place.
Post-Event Decision The decision whether or not, in the aftermath of an event, to evacuate a hospital.
Pre-Event Evacuation An evacuation carried out prior to an impending event, when the hospital structure and surrounding environment are not yet significantly compromised; a pre-event evacuation is ordered when the anticipated effects of an impending disaster would either place patients and staff at risk or make an evacuation extremely dangerous or impossible at a later time.
Post-Event Evacuation An evacuation carried out after an event.
Shelter-in-Place The decision not to evacuate a threatened hospital, either prior to a disaster or in its aftermath.

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