Emergency responses to terrorist attacks and Evacuation Responsiveness for Government Organisations (ERGO), are particular areas of interest for policy makers across the world following on from the terrorist attacks in New York, London, Mumbai and Nairobi; and natural disasters such as the tsunami in Japan in 2011, flooding in Pakistan, earthquakes in Italy and volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Improving emergency response
Research at Aston University ranges from changing the way in which government agencies deal with mass decontamination, to influencing the decision-making process for the allocation of resources to respond to terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
Aston’s research is also a key factor in influencing policy and plans regarding preparedness for mass evacuation.
Response to terrorist attacks
Aston researchers developed two simulation models to help Fire and Rescue Services understand how they might position their resources before an incident, and how to best respond to a combination of different incidents at different locations. It also dealt with mass decontamination of a population following the release of a hazardous substance and study resource requirements (vehicles, equipment and manpower) needed to meet performance targets.
These models dealt with the allocation of resources across regions – studying cover level and response times, analysing different allocations of resources, both centralised and decentralised. This research, carried out by Dr Pavel Albores and Professor Duncan Shaw, was finished shortly before the London bombings in July 2005.
The second application is an EC-funded project: Evacuation Responsiveness by Government Organisations (ERGO): A Preparedness Toolkit for Europe. This project focused on understanding how governments prepare for mass evacuations. Ten countries participated in the research – the UK, Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Iceland and Japan. The collaborators were all at senior level and in charge of coordinating evacuation planning for their countries or regions.
The work helped government organisations in three main areas:
- Modelling and simulation - to improve the computer models that are used by government organisations to prepare for mass evacuations
- How best to prepare the public through education campaigns that may be implemented in the different countries
- Help officials in making the evacuation decision
This research has influenced and changed the way in which government agencies deal with mass decontamination, and the decision process for allocation of resources to respond to terrorist attacks and natural disasters. It has also increased understanding and changed policy and the creation process for plans regarding preparedness for mass evacuation.