Are Your Local Emergency Responders Prepared to Help YOU?
Editor: Ensuring that emergency preparedness planning considers the needs of people with hearing loss (and other disabilities) seems to be getting some attention, at least in some areas. Regular readers know that I’m frustrated at my inability to get the emergency preparedness folks in San Diego to even talk about it; on the other hand Randy Collins has been very successful in getting the Arizona people all pulling in the same direction, as reported in Issue 9. Here’s a report on what’s happing in the nation’s capitol.
Washington DC (PRWEB) June 2, 2005 — The Disability Preparedness Center recently completed a survey of emergency preparedness of people with disabilities in the National Capital Region. While some efforts already exist in this region to prepare persons with disabilities for an emergency, more information is needed and much more work needs to be done.
The study found that disability-oriented organizations and emergency planners and responders approach the problem differently. Disability organizations tend to favor approaches unique to different disability needs, while emergency planning and response organizations tend to favor adapting existing approaches to make these more inclusive and accessible.
While participants may not use the same approach, many echoed the importance of including persons with disabilities in comprehensive emergency preparedness plans. According to one participant, “people with disabilities need to have participation in the process and must be self-initiating in their efforts to be better served in such cases of national emergency.”
When asked how to move emergency planning forward in our region, participants offered the following top three priority areas: (1) need for better public awareness and communication; (2) need for a coordinated approach that includes persons with disabilities; and (3) need for more information on what to plan for and how to do it.
People with disabilities have a lot to offer, not just in planning for themselves, but in helping to plan for others as well. One participant explained, “persons with disabilities are not only sometimes more vulnerable, but also sometimes have important strengths they can contribute, like experience overcoming strange obstacles and dealing with their [different types of] disability.”
The Disability Preparedness Center was chosen by the National Capital Region (NCR) Council of Governments (COG) and funded through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) to incorporate individuals with disabilities and other special need groups in the region’s emergency planning efforts. Major activities under this grant include a needs assessment, the establishment of an NCR Disability Advisory Committee, skills development training for first responders, community demonstration projects and emergency simulations, a public information campaign, and a NCR conference on disability preparedness.
For more information, go to www.disabilitypreparedness-ncr.net or contact Carl T. Cameron, Ph.D., President, Disabilities Preparedness Center at 202.338.7158 x201.
September 2, 2005
Contact: Mark S. Quigley