Emergency Preparedness For Vulnerable Populations

This week as part of the America’s National PrepareAthon, Humanity Road is launching our awareness campaign for vulnerable population groups. Preparing for an emergency is important, but even more so for individuals who are dependent on electricity, special treatments, durable equipment and other services which could be a survival risk if disrupted. After polling the public we have created a hashtag to organize content so that the public, caregivers, responders and emergency management can follow the discussion, share their programs and access key information. Social Media Emergency Management (#SMEM) covers a broad topic, but #DAFN will cover items and discussions specific to preparedness and response for persons with disabilities and functional needs.

How can I engage and take part: In Twitter follow hashtag #DAFN.

Who should follow and participate in the discussion? Citizens with special and functional needs and their caretakers, Elder care agencies, emergency managers, disability specialists, nursing homes, centers for independent living, special service agencies and care teams (such as altzheimers, oncology, dialysis, diabetes) and health agencies that maintain a vulnerable population registry and accessibility programs should use that hashtag to inform the public about special registries and special instructions. Caretakers and individuals with access and functional needs should join in the discussion to talk about their plans and discuss challenges.

What is “Vulnerable Population”: Vulnerable population programs include individuals with special or functional needs, persons with disabilities and elderly. Registries and program services can change from location to location and can cover a broad range of services.

What is a Vulnerable Population Registry? Some local emergency management offices maintain registries for people with disabilities. Some registries are only used to collect planning information; others may be used to offer assistance in emergencies. If you add your name and information to a registry be sure you understand what you can expect. Be aware that a registry is NEVER a substitute for personal preparedness. Even if the registry may be linked to first responders, assistance may not be available for hours or days after a disaster.

Contact your local emergency management agency to see if these services exist where you live or visit www.ready.gov/ to find links to government offices in your area. (Source)

In example the following are some Illinois State Vulnerable Population Registries

Kane County Special Needs Registry

KankaKee County Special Needs Registry

Knox County Special Needs Registry

Madison County Special Needs Registry

McClean County Functional Needs Registry

St Clair County Special Needs Registry

Will County Special Needs Registry

Tips for emergency managers and shelter operators:

Planning for diverse population in a disaster means working with a whole community approach. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your local emergency planning organizations or regional and national assisted living and care organizations. A critical aspect of inclusive planning would be to include people with disabilities, leaders in the disability community, and disability support and advocacy organizations in all phases of emergency management- including planning. Some states have begun Special CERT teams for response to persons with access or functional needs.

The FEMA Office of Disability Integration and Coordination website also has a lot of great preparedness resources for individuals, inclusive emergency management resources for communities, and tips and tools for effective communication with people with disabilities and access and functional needs “Having an inclusive planning group is going to make any tool you use more effective by making it more likely that people in the disability community know about and understand the tool, bringing to light any potential barriers or complications, and adding knowledge of community resources that can enhance the effectiveness of that tool.” says Jessica Mitchell the Region V Disability Integration Specialist with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Some of the following organizations have committed to working on emergency preparedness and are in every state in the country. They would be valuable contacts as well.

Tips for people with disabilities and functional needs:

Strategies, Services, Devices, Tools and Techniques for people with access and functional needs. Privacy is important to personal medical needs and care, but planning for assistance before, during and after emergency means making educated choices on what information you choose to share in order to be better prepared. What should you include in your plan?

1. Medicines including Durable medical equipment and Consumable medical supplies. Make a list of medicines and contact information for your medical care team and pharmacies and keep it in your go-kit.

2. Pre-register for key services, some power companies have registries for electricity dependent individuals, some counties have vulnerable population registries for individuals who need assistance with hurricane shutters or evacuation assistance.

4. Plan for your Service Animal (See our blog tips for service animals)

5. Assistive Technology – loss of assistive technology could severely impact mobility or ability to communicate, write down your names, model numbers and keep a list in your go-kit.

6. Communications tools

7. Accessible shelter/housing

8. Transportation needs

9. Inform your Support Network, Make arrangements, prior to an emergency, for your support network to immediately check on you after a disaster

10. Pack go-kits for you and your service animal

Follow us in social media this week as we release information for vulnerable populations using hashtag #DAFN.