A crash course in changing the world.
I live in a mixed urban and rural area. There are 3 major metropolitan centers nearby, most notably Washington DC, several large communities, and then large expanses of rural land.
There are limited avenues of access and egress for vehicles--bottlenecks are the norm in the best of times. Combine overcrowded roads with emergency vehicles, and there is a real problem.
Solutions in the urban areas have included closing roads, and redirecting traffic around the city through the 19 transit corridors which radiate outward from downtown DC. Highways, beltways, surface roads; Metro-trains and open-rail trains; three airports, local helipads, ferries and boats--all could, potentially, be coordinated to assist in evacuation or support operations in the event of a disaster in Washington DC.
As a salient example, a few weeks ago, 30 March, 2010, DC Fire/EMS/Police communications were down for five hours. http://www.welovedc.com/2010/03/30/dc-fireemspolice-communications-... An electrical problem at DC's Office of Unified Communications crashed the emergency responders' primary radio system. DC Fire/EMS/Police, and the MPD defaulted to their backup radios, which were augmented by backup channels in Arlington County (VA) and Montgomery County (MD) on the 800Mhz radio band. Fire/EMS/Police and MPD also utilized cell phone communications and computers, and a temporary external command center to further coordinate command/control and assistance during the outage.
DC has a few redundancies (in multiple languages) of emergency action plans, to ensure preparedness. Some of the information available includes:
http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12445&page=R1 (role of transit)
http://www.state.gov/doc**ents/organization/2083.pdf (contingency planning applicable to DC and elsewhere)
(emergency walk-out evacuation plan for DC)
Host to many of the cutting edge organizations in green reform, humanitarian aid and development, emergency planning and management, DC itself is home to many individuals, neighborhoods, and communities which are now trying to catch up, address specific issues and insufficiencies, and bind all existing efforts (food banks, shelters, enforcement and civilian support patrols, etc) into a cohesive and effective wh***.
On the civilian side, groups are forming to look at all the key aspects of life (food, water, energy, transport, health, services, economics, ethic-ergonomics...), and working to implement action plans to diminish energy consumption and pollution, to enhance people's understanding of resilient community engagement and development (http://www.transitiontowns.org/ ).
A relatively new group, Ecolocity DC (http://ecolocity.ning.com/ ) is working to transition DC from one of the nation's most air-polluted, bottle-necked cities to a resilient, international community which can apply and practice alternative solutions to vulnerabilities in population, transit, health, food, water, and other critical issues. The primary focus is to transform DC into a Transition town, an ecocity, which can spread its innovative solutions to neighboring areas, and in widening circles thereafter.