Civilian Mobility in Crisis Situations and its Effects on Operational Capabilities of Military Units


  • Maret Aarla-Kask
  • Tanel Jairus
  • Mike Franz Wahl




emergency situation, evacuation, human factor, population movement modelling, road network


Estonian residents’ readiness for crisis situations is inadequate and that is why the population has no interest in participating in training exercises or in preparing in any other way. On the basis of world practice, the most crucial factor for survival and successful emergency evacuation in a crisis situation is public awareness. Therefore, the author concludes that since the preparation of the Estonian population for crisis situations is insufficient, specialists working at emergency services and other crisis management agencies should receive more professional training, which would help compensate for the population’s lack of knowledge. Such training is especially important for the officials responsible for informing the public and communicating directly. As world practice has shown, the clarity and precision of the guidelines in a crisis situation is crucial for the population. A minor misunderstanding of instructions can lead to unfortunate consequences. The author of the paper studied how mass evacuation of the Ida-Virumaa population would take place in the event of a threat posed by the East. The simulations showed that using the main routes is the simplest and fastest way. However, it could pose a problem if military units are moving in the opposite direction at the same time, making it difficult or impossible for civilian vehicles to travel on the main roads. It takes a minimum of 17 hours in the daytime and 18 hours at night to evacuate 44% of the people in Ida-Virumaa by using alternative routes. The waiting time for the start of evacuation can take a minimum of 5–10 hours. The author of the thesis does not have information on the details of how much of the road traffic the defense forces may require, but there should definitely be a plan to enable the civilian population to evacuate by using alternative routes. The simulations showed that 57% of the population of Ida- Virumaa could not be evacuated if the main roads were closed. Impeding factors for evacuation may include the lack of resources, as well as the lack of know-how and experience of personnel who are responsible for the evacuation. In addition, the mapping of evacuation destinations has not been done and there are no clear instructions as to which institution or legal entity should organize the necessary services at the evacuation point. Impeding factors may also include bad weather conditions, the lack of legislation or the lack of ability to quickly facilitate an evacuation. The author suggests that there is a need to limit civilian and public transport access to the main road 33 (Jõhvi-Kose) in order to allow freedom of movement for Defense Forces vehicles. The author also suggests ordering analyses from a competent authority (for example, the Road Engineering Center), in relation to the density of population and changes in the state’s interest in various objects, at least once every three years. One of the risks pointed out by the author is that all the bus drivers may not agree to work in an emergency situation, but would prefer to be evacuated instead. Many of them are at the retirement age and already suffer from various health issues (anxiety, high blood pressure, etc.), which do not allow them to work in emergency situations. In such cases, the human resources, such as bus drivers, should also be guaranteed. This paper does not take into account national defence objects, the location of which is considered classified (warehouses, shelters), although traffic congestion would need to be avoided near the aforementioned objects.


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