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Awarded Grant - Acute Care

Bottom-up Modeling of Evacuation Methodologies

FOA Number: CE04-002: CDC Public Health Research
Project Period: 9/30/04–9/29/07
Application/Grant Number: 1-R01-CE000498-01
Principal Investigator: Judith Holt, PhD
Utah State University
Center for Persons with Disabilities
6800 Old Main Hill
Logan, Utah 84322-6800
Phone: 435-797-7157
Fax: 435-797-7219


The purpose of this research project is to improve protection of the workforce from urgent nonoccupational infectious, environmental, or terrorist threats by identifying effective methods for evacuating individuals, specifically those with disabilities, from buildings and other settings in response to such threats. To accomplish this objective, an innovative and cost-effective methodology, agent-based modeling, will be developed for application by a unique interdisciplinary research collaborative. This approach will be used to examine the effect of evacuation methodologies on the dynamics of mass pedestrian flows (MPFs) during health-safety events in the built environment. It will also be used to assess the effectiveness of evacuation methodologies when applied to individuals with disabilities. The effectiveness of evacuation methodologies during health-safety events has not been adequately studied due to the difficulty and expense of designing valid studies with high potential for application to diverse physical settings and contexts. Adequate provision for the safe evacuation of individuals with disabilities adds layers of complexity to an already-daunting task. Agent-based modeling is a powerful technology with enormous promise for improving evacuation methodologies used in health-safety events. Research findings will contribute greatly to the current body of knowledge by providing a better understanding of emergent population behaviors and MPFs resulting from evacuation methodologies, the effects of such methodologies on the emergency egress of individuals with disabilities, and the evaluation of current built-environment health- and safety-event evacuation practices. By addressing critical and fundamental gaps in knowledge, this research will ultimately improve the effectiveness of planning for the emergency egress of individuals of all abilities from the built environment during health-safety events and will decrease evacuation-related injuries and deaths in the workforce.