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What is Considered a Major Accident?

A major accident is any accident serious enough to warrant response by the installation disaster response force (DRF). These differ from the day-to-day emergencies handled by local emergency responders. A major accident may involve one or more of the following: aircraft accident/incident, toxic materials, hazardous substances, explosives, etc.

Three Phases of Response to a Major Accident

Notification - Emergency response operations begin with notification. Reports of incidents come from a variety of sources (i.e., telephone call; 911, crash phone, radio transmission, weather forecast warning, watch or advisory, or eyewitness). Individuals witnessing an incident must alert others in the immediate area and report it to the Emergency Communications Center (ECC), Security Forces, Fire and Emergency Services, or the Command Post (CP).

Response - Initial responders respond to the incident and establish incident command, lifesaving and rescue, suppression and containment, cordon, Tactical Priorities, determine and communicate protective measures.

Withdrawal or Evacuation - The protective action used when responders are in imminent danger or when all response actions have been completed. Withdrawal may be immediate or planned. Evacuation is a protective action to remove all personnel (military or civilian) from a threatened area to a safer location.

Actions to Consider


  • Research the most common major accidents in your area.
  • Understand the threats in your area and how best to react in times of crises.
  • Create an evacuation plan for your family and have a backup route in mind.
  • Determine an out-of-town relative that family members can use as a contact if separated.
  • Determine a safe shelter for animals and livestock.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit.


  • Listen to the local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions.
  • Evacuate immediately or shelter-in-place as directed.
  • Provide first aid and CPR if you are trained to do so.
  • Report the incident to local authorities.
  • Stay away from the accident area unless you are involved in the recovery process.


  • Stay away from the accident area; there may be unknown dangers at or near the scene.
  • Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.
  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance - large families, children, elderly, and individuals with disabilities.
  • Notify friends or family of your condition.
  • Use phone services sparingly.
  • If you were directed to evacuate, do not return home until local authorities give the all clear.
  • If gas or vapors could have entered the building, take shallow breaths through a cloth or a towel. Avoid eating or drinking food or water that may be contaminated.

Did You Know...

In October of 1986 the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was signed into law. This act was passed so individuals could obtain information about chemicals that are manufactured, stored, used, and released within their community.

Contact your local or Installation's Office of Emergency Management for more information.