Evacuation means that people are removed away from an emergency or high-risk area and relocated in a safe area. Evacuations are carried out by authorities and do not require approval from the evacuees.
All of Finland is covered by evacuation plans. These plans define how the evacuated population is assembled, transported, accommodated, catered for and cared. There are detailed plans for areas and facilities at particular risk and their environments.
Evacuation under normal circumstances (accident evacuation)
Even under normal circumstances, accident evacuation may sometimes become necessary. This entails evacuating, by official decision, a certain number of people due to a fire, accident or some other emergency that requires such measures.
The Finnish Police Act grants the police the right to quarantine or clear an area that is protected by legislation regarding domestic and public peace if it is deemed necessary to prevent an immediate risk to the life or health of individuals in the area and no other protective measures can be taken. The evacuation plans for that area created by rescue officials can be utilized in these kinds of situations.
Wider-scale evacuations can be carried out in defined areas or in locations at risk of a major catastrophe.
Evacuation in a state of emergency
Evacuation is one of the measures that can be taken to protect the general population. Under most circumstances, the primary course of action is to advise everyone to move into their nearest civil defence shelters.
In a state of emergency, Helsinki may be faced with a large-scale evacuation whereby the entire population of the city or the residents of several city districts must be relocated.
An extensive evacuation of this kind may be necessary if the area has been invaded by a military force, if a threat of a military attack has been made, or if a catastrophe affecting a large area has occurred.
Evacuations in Helsinki are directed by the Rescue command centre, which organizes the necessary transport equipment and arrangements and cooperates with other authorities and relocation bodies. The command centres of civil defence districts and zones guide the evacuated population and steer the evacuation operations in their areas.
In states of emergency, decisions regarding large-scale evacuations are made by the Council of State.