Emergency PreparednessTornado damage in Jackson, Tennessee. Overturned cars and demolished houses surround a parking spot for people with disabilities

About this project

The increased demand for PAS during emergencies and disaster situations is an important dimension to the overall task of raising awareness of the needs of people with disabilities.

Emergencies and disasters increase the need for PAS in a variety of ways. During emergencies, PAS users may be cut off from their usual resources and need assistance from others who may or may not be trained to provide PAS. PAS users may also need different kinds of PAS in an emergency such as lifting and carrying. PAS users may have additional difficulties or conditions that result from the emergency situation, such as: lack of essential medications; inability to access durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies, fatigue, hunger, respiratory distress, or trauma. PAS users may need assistance for tasks they could normally accomplish without assistance. Finally, people with disabilities who do not normally use PAS may need PAS during emergencies such as assistance in navigating unexpected obstacles in unfamiliar territory.

This research project will focus on strategies to coordinate and secure PAS services during national and regional emergencies and comprises of two streams of research:

  • Gather and make available existing strategies on emergency PAS. Study conducted by Lewis Kraus and June Kailes.
  • Identify specific strategies for emergency PAS and develop a model approach for emergency PAS. Study conducted by Lewis Kraus and June Kailes.

Promising Practices in PAS During Disasters

A national search was conducted in 2011 for promising practices in providing personal assistance services in disaster situations. Organizations and agencies interviewed and nominated. Initial screening interviews were held to determine if the practice provided some ways to solve the need for personal assistance during or after a disaster that needed evacuation or sheltering in place, had been used at least once, and had been in place for at least 6 months. Follow-up interviews determined the details of the practice.

The following are two practices that are considered promising:

  • Caretracker (PDF, HTML) - IHSS Public Authority in Santa Barbara County, CA
  • Shelter Volunteer Caregiver Training (PDF, HTML) - Emergency Management Disability and Aging Coalition (EMDAC) in Louisiana
  • Using Medical Reserve Corps for PAS in shelters (PDF HTML)- Missouri State Emergency Management Agency

Emergency Preparedness for PAS Users

Planning is key to surviving and recovering from an emergency. This is especially true if you use personal assistants (PA). A Personal assistant (PA) is someone who helps you with bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, toileting, transferring, shopping or communicating. Some PAs are paid, others are volunteers. A PA could be a family member or friend. Other names for this person are attendant or caregiver.

In a large emergency it is common to think you will be helped by firefighters, police officers and paramedics. The truth is that 70 percent of the time, in big emergencies, your PA, your friends, coworkers, neighbors and other people do the "first responding." So it is important to make sure these folks are aware of your specific needs in the case of an emergency. These people are known as your support team.


FEMA Guidelines for Winter Weather Preparedness for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities may need to take additional precautions in order to be ready for expected and unexpected winter weather events. First, get a kit. Make sure your kit includes warm clothing, blankets, food, water, a flashlight, and small shovel, salt or sand, and additional blankets and supplies for service animals and pets. You should include sufficient quantities to last at least 3 days. Try to obtain an emergency supply of medications and medical supplies in case travel becomes hazardous.

Remember that cold weather can stress respiratory and circulatory systems, making it more difficult to travel or complete tasks that require physical exertion.

Additional winter weather tips for people with disabilities:


Federal agency publications

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Office of the Governor Rick Perry. (2013). Home Use Devices: How to Prepare and Handle Power Outages for Medical Devices that Require Electricity. Texas: Author.  Read more about the publication, Home Use Devices: How to Prepare and Handle Power Outages for Medical Devices that Require Electricity.

FEMA. (2012, June). Personal Assistance Services Contract - Frequently Asked Questions. Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, Personal Assistance Services Contract - Frequently Asked Questions.

FEMA. (2011, December). CERT Basic Training Participant Manual (Braille and Screen Reader Versions). Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, CERT Basic Training Participant Manual (Braille and Screen Reader Versions).

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2010, November). People with Disabilities and Other Access and Functional Needs: Preparing and Planning for an Emergency. Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, People with Disabilities and Other Access and Functional Needs: Preparing and Planning for an Emergency.

FEMA. (2010, November). Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters. Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Emergency Preparedness and You. Atlanta, GA: Author.  Read more about the publication, Emergency Preparedness and You.

U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Justice. (2009, September). ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments. Chapter 7, ADA Checklist for Emergency Shelters. Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments. Chapter 7, ADA Checklist for Emergency Shelters.

National Council on Disability

National Council on Disability. (2009, August). Effective Emergency Management: Making Improvements for Communities and People with Disabilities. Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, Effective Emergency Management: Making Improvements for Communities and People with Disabilities.

Office of Disability Employment Policy

Office of Disability Employment Policy. (2005, July). A Framework of Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Federal Agencies. Preparing the Workplace for Everyone: Accounting for the Needs of People with Disabilities. Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, A Framework of Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Federal Agencies. Preparing the Workplace for Everyone: Accounting for the Needs of People with Disabilities.


PAS Center publications

A list of reports and publications produced by the Emergency Preparedness PAS project and its staff. The citations provide links to abstracts, press releases, and either the entire publication, or information about where to obtain it.

All Emergency Preparedness reports and publications

Recent additions:

Gershon, R.R.M., Kraus, L.E., Raveis, V.H., Sherman, M.F., and Kailes, J.I. (2013, Winter). Emergency Preparedness in a Sample of Persons with Disabilities American Journal of Disaster Medicine, 8(1), pp.35-47. Read more about the publication, Emergency Preparedness in a Sample of Persons with Disabilities

Gershon, R.R., Magda, L.A., Riley, H.E., Merrill, J.A. (2011, October). Mass Fatality Preparedness in the Death Care Sector. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Volume, pp.1179–1186. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822cfe76 Read more about the publication, Mass Fatality Preparedness in the Death Care Sector.

Gershon, R.R., Magda, L.A., Canton, A.N., Riley, H.E., Wiggins, F., Young, W., Sherman, M.F. (2010, January/February). Pandemic-related ability and willingness in home healthcare workers. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, Vol., pp.15-26. doi: 10.5055/ajdm.2010.0002 Read more about the publication, Pandemic-related ability and willingness in home healthcare workers.


Library

Important publications related to Emergency Preparedness. Abstracts and information on how to obtain the complete publication is provided with each citation.

All Emergency Preparedness publications

Recent additions:

Office of the Governor Rick Perry. (2013). Home Use Devices: How to Prepare and Handle Power Outages for Medical Devices that Require Electricity. Texas: Author.  Read more about the publication, Home Use Devices: How to Prepare and Handle Power Outages for Medical Devices that Require Electricity.

Earthquake County Alliance. (2012, September). Earthquake preparedness guide for people with disabilities and other access or functional needs. CA: Author.  Read more about the publication, Earthquake preparedness guide for people with disabilities and other access or functional needs.

Save the Children. (2012). A National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters: Is America Prepared to Protect Our Most Vulnerable Children in Emergencies? Washington, DC: Author.  Read more about the publication, A National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters: Is America Prepared to Protect Our Most Vulnerable Children in Emergencies?


Presentations

Presentations related to Emergency Preparedness with links to abstracts, PowerPoint files and summaries.

All Emergency Preparedness presentations

Recent additions:

Kraus, L. & Kailes, J.I. (2012, Feb 08) Promising practices in evacuation for people with disabilities. Presented at the National Evacuation Conference hosted by LSU & UNO.

Information about this event titled, National Evacuation Conference | Download Powerpoint of this presentation titled, Promising practices in evacuation for people with disabilities

The Center for PAS has assembled a list of links to organizations, resources and information available on the web related to Emergency Preparedness.

All Emergency Preparedness links

Recent additions: