Thursday, April 28, 2005
On April 15, 2005, the National Council on Disability released a report calling for immediate changes in emergency planning for people with disabilities. The report entitled, “Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning, provides an overview of the ways in which the Federal Government should act to ensure that the emergency planning infrastructure it builds will include the waide range of people with disabilities in emergency preparedness, disaster relief, and homeland security programs. The NCD press release accompanying the report states,
All too often in emergency situations the legitimate concerns of people with disabilities are overlooked or swept aside. In areas ranging from the accessibility of emergency information to the evacuation plans for high-rise buildings, great urgency surrounds the need for responding to the concerns of people with disabilities in all planning, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation activities. The homeland security terrorist event of September 11, 2001, as well as the recent energy blackouts in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest and, more recently, the natural disaster hurricane events in Florida and the tsunami event of December 26, 2004, underscore the need to pay attention to the concerns raised in this report,” Lex Frieden (NCD chairperson) concluded.
The decisions the Federal Government makes, the priority it accords to civil rights, and the methods it adopts to ensure uniformity in the ways agencies handle their disability-related responsibilities are likely to be established in the early days of an emergency situation and be difficult to change if not set on the right course at the outset. By way of this report, NCD offers advice to assist the Federal Government in establishing policies and practices in these areas. This report provides examples of community efforts with respect to people with disabilities, but by no means does it provide a comprehensive treatment of the emergency preparedness, disaster relief, or homeland security program efforts by state and local governments.
Further discussions on the Saving Lives report may be found here. [bm]