Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ready or Not?

On this sixth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, I started thinking yet again about disaster planning. I know that the Office of Homeland Security, most businesses, and other government organizations have said that security and disaster planning is a priority, but I wonder if anything really has changed since September 11, 2001. We (the U.S.) even had another event to put into practice all that had supposedly been learned and developed – the hurricane Katrina disaster. Obviously that event was also a failure from the viewpoint of preparedness and disaster recovery. But the thing that occupies my mind most today is more personal – what would the impact be on my family should a disaster (natural or man-made) occur right now, right where we live?

I examined this question from several angles. First, if the disastrous event occurred while my children were in school, how would the schools handle things, and how would I get reunited with my children? I remember on September 11th, six years ago, that I felt compelled to leave work, and rush to the sides of my children. I knew I would just feel better if they were all with me, not spread around three different school buildings. That condition still exists today – my four children are in three different schools. How, and in what order would I go to get them, if I even could get to them? How would they all handle the waiting for me, or worse, how would the handle being injured? Could I depend on the school staff to comfort my children and make sure they were as safe as possible? Unfortunately, I think the answer to that question, at least for my three children with disabilities, is NO. In two of the three schools attended by my children, the teachers of children labeled with severe disabilities are advised not to take their kids outside for fire drills. So, how will the teachers and the students know when the loud buzzer is signaling a drill or an actual event? The cynical me thinks the disaster plan for children with disabilities is to sacrifice them in favor of getting the non-disabled to a safe place.

The second scenario I envisioned was being at home with my children when a disaster struck. I asked myself do I have a disaster plan in place, and especially one that addresses the significant needs of my children with disabilities? The answer is no, unless you count the jumbled list of thoughts in my head a disaster plan. So, while I am questioning and suggesting and demanding that my school system develop a comprehensive disaster plan, I need to do the same thing myself at home. After googling a bit, I found some good resources to help me down that path. They are listed below and I suggest everyone, especially families who have family members with special needs, take the time to review them.


Andrea said...

A while ago I collected a bunch of URLs related to disaster and disability. I can't promise that all these URLs are still current. And I know this isn't everything that's out there. But in case a few of the things on this list lead you to more possible resources:

Resources on Disaster and Disability

The following URLs were announced on the Disaster and Disability e-discussion forum between May 22 and May 29/30, 2006; these are in no particular order, except that I have tried to separate out resources for the United States from International resources of broader interest.

International Resources (Developing Countries)

One of the list members is affliated with the Christian Blind Mission, an international development agency that works with blind people and people with other disabilities in projects in 113 developing countries.

Links to an article entitled: “Disability - Survey Results on the Pakistan Earth Quake and People with Disabilities”

Information on World Bank efforts post-tsunami. Also links to information related to past disasters. Not disability-specific.

Information on World Bank efforts in relation to people with disabilities. Includes some information related to disaster situations.

Engels Cortes from Colombia points to the web site for the Fundación para la Gestion del Riesgo. This page, all in Spanish, focuses on disaster/risk management in Colombia and Latin America.

Disability news and information in India.

Centro Regional de Información Sobre Desastres América Latino y El Caribe – information (in Spanish and English) related to disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. María Tersa Casas indicates she would welcome recommendations of further resources and documents for them to add to their web site: she can be contacted at crid@crid.or.cr

The following resources are already in the CRID database:

Enclosed, please find a list of resources related to Disasters and Disabled Populations, already in our on-line electronic database:

Id: 14511
Crisis counseling guide to children and families in disasters.

Id: 2368
Health consequences of the Cerro Negro eruption, Nicaragua, 1992.

Id: 3628
Disasters and public health.

Id: 12798
Programa de seguridad y emergencia escolar en el distrito federal.

Inclusión de la seguridad de los menores que presentan alguna discapacidad.

Id: 2966
Incapacitated passengers physicians guide.

Id: 10719
Preparedness for medical rehabilitation of casualties in disaster situations.

Id: 10170
An examination of behavior and hazards faced by physically disabled people during the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Id: 9611
Disabled persons and earthquake hazards.

Id: 4403
Some possible implications for natural disaster of recent Israeli experience with the elderly and disabled.

Id: 4046
Assessing long - term impacts of a natural disaster : A focus on the elderly.

------(Above resources are from the CRID web site)---

The National Emergency Management Organisation of Saint Lucia

Downloads a report (PDF format) on the mitigation of geohazards in Indonesia – this report was sponsored by the German government.

A census has attempted to count the number of people with disabilities in India.

Little People of Kosova.

The United Nations Development Program in India.

Naafes Rahman of Bangladesh wrote this article (which can be downloaded in PDF format) after the 2004 floods in his country. It is entitled “Floods & Disability : Is Your Response Accessible To All?”

This PDF file is a summary report on a workshop held in Bangladesh on Gender and Diversity.

This PDF file is a checklist resulting from the Bangladesh Gender and Diversity workshop.

Resources from Bangladesh on disasters.

Workshops related to floods in Bangladesh.

Disasters and Emergency repsonse in Bangladesh.

Resources for “Rich” Countries (besides the United States)

Peter Timusk points to this web site for Psychiatric Survivors in Ottawa, Canada.

Betty Dion Enterprises, Ltd., offers services on universal design, accessibility, fire safety prepardedness, etc.

Continuity Central is a business continuity risk management group in Europe.

Resources for the United States

Information about the “No Person Left Behind” Project, which works to ensure that people with disabilities are included in hurricane planning in Florida. (Ms. Linda Carter indicates she can be contacted with questions at mslindacarter@adaboardswfl.org or mslindacarter@comcast.net)

Ed Lupton indicates that an emergency planning course can be accessed at this web site.

Ed Lupton also directs us to this organization for personnel involved with emergency planning. (From the web site, and the use of the number “911”, it seems to be targeted solely at the United States.)

Frank Richardson of Mississippi suggests this web site for an organization advocating for all newly constructed homes in the United States to be “visitable” by people with disabilities. This would make it more feasible for people with disabilities to stay with friends or families when evacuating during disasters.

Lee Sender indicates that the National Academy web site in Washington DC has about 150 publications on disasters in general—enter “disasters” as a search term. Not all materials will be disability-related.

Links to the advocacy calender for disability advocates in the state of Georgia in southern USA.

Cheri Johnson Mitchell points to the Katrina Aid Today web site.

Maryland Department on Disabilities, in the US.

A guidebook from FEMA on how individuals can prepare themselves for disasters. Not disability-specific.

Links to a page on crisis management services.

Resources for individuals preparing for disaster.

Tips from the Red Cross on preparing yourself for disaster.

Links to the Citizen Corps Council, which organizers volunteers at the community level to support first responders in disaster situations.

Links to a site with best practices learned from past US disasters. Note: you must be a first responder to be able to log in.

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (for the US).

Training courses in Kansas, for professionals.

The Federal Communications Commission.

For amateur ham radio users, how to get a license etc.

Helps people with disabilities get licenses and equipment to operate ham radios.

The National SOS Radio Network – you can buy Family Radio Service walkie talkies that lets you communicate by voice within a mile range.

Mayes County Emergency Management in Oklahoma.

An article by John Renne on Evacuation and Equity.

A conference is being planned called Disaster Planning for the Car-less Society in New Orleans Feb. 8 & 9, 2007; a call for presentations and papers is open through August 15, 2006.

Andrea said...

I also suggest a paper done by the National Coalition on Disability on Emergency preparedness for people with disabilities. The web version is at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2007/ncd_consultant_05-31-07.htm

Or you can download the paper in PDF format at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2007/pdf/ncd_consultant_05-31-07.pdf

And another paper by the same people, older but more comprehensive. Although it's not meant for the lay person planning to protect their families, I think there is still a lot of valuable information to consider. ESPECIALLY if you think you might want to get into advocating for better planning: