“Get ready to help someone” was my message yesterday when I spoke to a group sponsored by the Center for Independent Living using my book Quick Look for Volunteer Emergency Responders as the focus. Other speakers were from NOAH, METRO AND METRO LIFT, RED CROSS, CERT, UNITED WAY , HOMELAND SECURITY AND HCIL COMMUNITY OUTREACH. I talked about my pocket book for emergency responders plus added several tips for the audience who were mostly functionally disabled. See! I learned that persons with disabilities are classified as persons with functional needs. Also learned about an important organization Medical Reserve Corps who undergird presently employed medical personnel in time of an emergency.
As usual, I learned a lot from the very informed speakers:
–In a pandemic, get ready for isolation in every way. I hadn’t thought about the implications.
–In chemical air or ground spills – stay uphill, upwind and upstream!
—Metro and Metro lift do much pre-evacuation planning, but they also make extensive plans for transporting persons back to original destination after an emergency.
–FEMA oversees every shelter including Red Cross shelters. They also have a variety of tools to help the average person. I cam home with a set of Braille emergency information books that I will use at the church.
–Red Cross learned much from Katrina, and has new plans for handling persons with functional needs to keep them not separated in a separate facility. 100 square feet are needed for a person with functional disability, and often equipment including beds are needed. They now have categories of medical needs and information for extensive services with all information using HIPPA laws.
–The speaker from CERTS said that there is limited information during an emergency for persons who are deaf. TV interpretation is limited. Real time captioning is needed as many in the deaf community do not use sign language. One of the problems is language differences when American Sign Language is not read by persons who speak other languages.
–Real time captioning was used for this meeting as well as American Sign Language. Understanding was sometime impeded when the speakers stood in front of their own power point words.
I observed that speakers using power point words often did not read what it said on the screen, rather they explained it. This was a huge disadvantage for the many persons who were blind. Whew! I didn’t use power point. I used a homemade poster and explained the fact stated on the poster: 1 in 5 persons in the US has a disability, and not included in that statistic are persons with chronic illness and those who are temporarily disabled due to cancer, broken legs, etc.
Everyone should be comforted by knowing that governmental agencies have streamlined and more fully defined what they can do for us in an emergency. The message, however, is that each of us has the responsibility to not only prepare but to understand how to find help when needed.