Populations with Functional Needs
The first decision that most organizations make is to decide who they are talking about when they use the term special populations. The PennsylvaniaDepartment of Health (PA DOH) defines special populations as: groups whose needs may not be fully addressed by traditional service providers or who feel they may not comfortably or safely access and use the standard resources offered in disaster preparedness, response, relief, and recovery. The idea of functionality is important because the need of each person can change with the particular situation and over time. A functional approach focuses on factors that limit a person's ability to prepare for an emergency, receive and act on emergency orders and care for himself or herself during and after an emergency. This why CPREP takes a functional needs approach to working with populations to prepare for, respond to and recover from an emergency. All projects at CPREP address some functional needs in the design and implementation of the projects. Specific projects working on this issue include:
• In conjunction with Pennsylvania Department of Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness, facilitating a statewide Special Populations Workgroup for the development of a statewide strategic action plan.
• The development of a guide for including functional needs populations planning and response in emergency management for county and municipal emergency management agencies in Pennsylvania.
• The development of tools and policy recommendations working towards planning for special medical needs shelters in Pennsylvania in coordination with the Pennsylvania Modular Emergency Medical System (PA-MEMS) guidance.
• A model for durable medical equipment storage and distribution was piloted during the response to Hurricane Katrina; current efforts include collaboration with the Statewide Independent Living Council, FEMA, and the PA Department of Health/PEMA to address the needs of people with disabilities affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
• Research relevant to risk communication and preparedness education for both the general public and low literacy and non-English speakers has been conducted using state of the art perceptual and cognitive mapping.
• Train the trainer program for leaders of non-English speaking communities for local preparedness.
• Three questions on emergency preparedness will be on the 2012 iteration of the statewide survey to assess “quality of life” for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (Independent Monitoring for Quality).