Emergency response plans have been formalised for only one third of the 32 volcanoes that have erupted in the past 500 years in Europe and its dependent territories. As local and tourist populations increase around the remaining 67%, so also the need for an appropriate emergency plan becomes more urgent. A cornerstone of such a plan is to ensure that local decision makers are aware of the volcanic hazards that may be faced by their communities. Hence, instead of applying existing plans from another volcano, it is pertinent first to evaluate the impact that these plans have had on local decision makers. This paper reports results from a preliminary evaluation of interviews with decision makers at Vesuvius, in Southern Italy, for which an emergency response plan has been available since 1995. The volcano last erupted in 1944, so that none of the monitoring scientists or civil authorities have direct experience of responding to Vesuvius in eruption. The results of the surveys suggest that, although the civil authorities on the volcano are aware that Vesuvius poses a hazard, their understanding of how to respond during an emergency is incomplete. They also indicate opportunities for increasing such understanding during future revisions of the emergency plan, provided they are done before a crisis arises.