March Trainings to Help People with Disabilities in Emergencies
Friday, February 17, 2023
The first of four training sessions is coming up March 6-7 in Springfield on preparedness to help individuals with disabilities survive a disaster.
According to the project director, David Whalen from Niagara University, "Emergency Management Access and Functional Needs Disability Awareness Training" is appropriate for an "eclectic mix of people." He encouraged anyone in emergency management, or in government or social-services organizations, to attend. Whalen said the need for this training has been proved time and again.
"In pretty much every disaster that's occurred in this country over the last 20 years," he said, "the number one demographic that dies in these disasters are people with disabilities."
There's a two-day session for people in the field of emergency planning - from disability organizations and county or city departments, and a half-day session is available for others who may be interested. The free trainings are made possible by the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council. Advance registration is requested at frdat.niagara.edu.
Whalen said the sessions will foster interagency relationship-building from day one - relationships he says are crucial for successful plans.
"Emergency plans will fail if the disability community is not involved in that process," he said. "It's been the case for every plan that we've seen out there."
Dante Gliniecki, manager of emergency preparedness for the city of Independence, agreed that people with disabilities are often the first and most severely affected by a disaster.
"So it's worth all the effort," he said, "all the planning, training, exercising and resourcing that we do - to be able to address people with access and functional needs."
Gliniecki said these training sessions will cover the types of disabilities that prompt people to have "access and functional needs."
"So that could include people with mobility challenges, people with cognitive disabilities, people with hearing loss, people with vision impairments or loss, people who have illness or chronic illness of some sort," he said.
He added that seniors may be dealing with one or more of these issues. Eleven sessions will be offered throughout the state over the next three years.
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