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Disaster Preparedness

Emergency Management for Individuals with Special Needs

Background Description
This presentation forms part of a research on the Special Needs Program that is available to assist persons with special needs such as: medical, transportation or mobility during a disaster.
As defined, a person with special needs is anyone of any age who may have mental, developmental, cognitive physical, or a combination of such disabilities or impairment. Yes, they include children and senior citizens who may all be vulnerable in times of calamities and/or disasters.
Objective: The purpose of this presentation is to bring awareness to everyone who wish to address or provide support to the needs of individuals with disabilities, particularly in times of disasters. Obviously, the principal objective of this presentation is to foster inclusive planning by inviting disability advocates (especially those representing various disabilities) to participate in the effort of addressing the needs of individuals with special needs.
Efforts to look into are along (3) three main issues:
Preparedness: Based on extensive information available, it appears that many emergency personnel and the individuals themselves (people with disabilities) are not adequately prepared for disasters. One significant finding is that often times, planning on disaster preparation is done without adequate participation of the population with special needs themselves. The link below provides information for those interested to become informed on some issues to address the needs of the special population, as follows:
http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/Herminia-22262-Disaster-Planning-Special-Needs-Populations-PopulationsMeeting-Entire-Community-Topics-Discussion-His-for-as-Entertainment-ppt-powerpoint/.
Response: A number of areas in the response phase are needing improvement, including communication, evacuation and shelter. Emergency alerts may not be available for everyone with special needs, such as for those with visual or auditory impairment.
Transportation is another issue. There is no adequate transportation to evacuate individuals with special needs, such as vehicles with ramps or wheelchair lifts. Some people who are blind may need accommodation for their sighted guides, such as dogs or animals. Canes, walkers and oxygen tanks for the elderly are a few examples of other accommodation that need to be taken into consideration. The link that follows might be helpful as information source to educate anyone on what is available for individuals with disabilities relative to their transportation needs, as follows:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/94fall/.

Recovery: It is often pointed out (and even already experienced by people with disabilities) that they encounter difficulty applying for aid and support after a disaster because they are unable to access the forms to complete, such as, no one is there to assist in completing these forms, or the forms do not come in formats that could easily be completed, such as Braille for individuals who are blind.
Furthermore, many individuals with disabilities are not able to come back into the stream or rhythm of life because they have already lost the network of support that provided them with support and encouragement for daily living. Below is a helpful link that can bring awareness on the support system available to them:
http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/ep/.

Conclusion: For this reason, it is crucial that agencies of the government have plans in place to ensure that consumers (individuals with disabilities) are not neglected following a disaster. At the same time, those who advocate the special needs population must also be knowledgeable with everything that the former are entitled to.

Access to the Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiI6IbZsWmM.

http://lachildrenshospital.net/presentations/Preparednessonlinecourse/mod04/player.html.

Special Acknowledgement: A special mention to the inspiration, support, and confidence given me by my professor in our doctoral class, HCM-620 (Managing Disaster: Perspectives for Healthcare leaders)
Reference:
California InterContinental University. (2007). Interactive Learning Guide:
HCM 620 Managing Disaster – Perspectives for Healthcare Leaders.
Diamond Bar, California: CalU Press.
McGlown, K. J. (Ed.). (2004). Terrorism and Disaster Management: Preparing
Healthcare leaders for the New Reality (1st ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Health
Administration Press.

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