Design effective evacuation commands
Make your evacuation commands simple and clear
You have 90 seconds to get everyone out
Part 1 of a multi-part series
The key to designing effective and clear emergency evacuation commands are to take into consideration all that needs to be accomplished and saying it in the most effective way, using the most easily understood words. Remember, you are not creating a 5-minute, how-to, explainer video to post on YouTube. Rather, you are writing short, effective commands to create the most desirable outcome. While what you want to say may sound very detailed and thorough, ask yourself, is it realistic to expect both crewmembers and passengers to shout and respond to such lengthy commands?
In order to properly design evacuation flow, one must consider everything that needs to occur and in the logical sequence of events.
The overall flow of the evacuation commands goes like this, upon hearing the command to evacuate:
- Preparation: Shout initial commands that emphasize an initial action by the passengers, such as “heads down, stay down!” or “Grab ankles, stay down!”
- Evaluate: Assess outside conditions while shouting passengers to stay back. Assuming it is safe to open the door, open the door while shouting for passengers to stay back.
- Initiate evacuation: After the door is fully open with Gust Lock engaged, the manual backup handle has been pulled, and the slide is ready for use, shout action instructions to the ABP’s, then direct them to “Go!”
- Shout commands: Shout clear action evacuation commands so passengers will have a focal point of reference to a usable exit.
- Evacuation complete: Upon completion of the evacuation, situation permitting, crewmembers quickly go through the cabin to verify all passengers have evacuated the aircraft.
- Crewmembers evacuate: Crewmembers grab their designated emergency equipment and exit the aircraft.
When writing procedures, remember this: the training they receive in the classroom serves as the foundation for what they will be shouting in an actual emergency. Flight attendants have repeatedly cited that during an emergency, they took actions based on the training they received, and one flight attendant attested to her training, during an explosive decompression, “in the back of my mind, when it was happening, I said to myself this is supposed to happen.” Unquestionably, quality training gives crewmembers confidence when dealing with various emergencies; they feel prepared for it and know what to expect.
During training, it’s understandable to want crewmembers to shout the evacuation commands as written. However, during an actual evacuation, it’ possible the words they end up using may not be what they were taught to shout as written in the manual. However, you are likely to achieve greater success by using short, simple, clear, and effective commands. Evacuation commands do not have to be complicated. There is a difference between thorough, detailed evacuation commands and effective evacuation commands. Effectiveness is what matters most.
Now, let’s write evacuation commands for a B737/A320. The evacuation commands are designed based upon a perfect evacuation. Upon hearing the captain’s commands to evacuate, here are sample evacuation commands and the flow:
- Preparation: Emergency! Open seatbelts! Leave everything! Come this way!
- Evaluate: Stay back! Stay back! Continue shouting this as you assess outside conditions, open the door, ensure the gust lock becomes engaged, pull on the manual inflation handle, and step back into the dedicated assist space.
- Initiate evacuation: For the ABP’s, use short, concise instructions. “You and you, stay at the bottom! Help people off! Send them away! Go!”
- Shout commands: Emergency! Open seatbelts! Leave everything! Come this way! Jump! Get out! (repeat as long as necessary)
- Evacuation complete: Crewmembers quickly go through the cabin shouting, “is anyone here?” Assist the remaining passengers as necessary.
- Crewmembers evacuate: Grab the required emergency equipment, depending on if on or off-airport and per company procedures, and get out.
Consider that evacuation commands do not need to be lengthy, overly detailed which sound good, but in reality are ineffective. Short, clear, and effective commands are all that’s needed. It will help your crewmembers perform better with less to remember, and ultimately, provide an enhanced level of safety for the passengers should an evacuation ever be necessary.
Coming soon: Part 2, potential problems related to evacuations and the excessive, unnecessary commands.