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Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

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  • Synopsis: Training materials on how best to assist people with disabilities during an emergency or disaster - Published: 2010-02-27. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Canadian Red Cross.

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Inclusive Emergency Preparedness Canada (IEPC) is developing training materials for emergency reception centers and shelter staff and volunteers on how best to assist people with disabilities during an emergency or disaster.

Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and other catastrophic events have keenly demonstrated the need for emergency preparedness for government, businesses, households and individuals. When planning for disasters or emergencies, special consideration needs to be taken to include people with disabilities.

Ontario's Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation 429/07), under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, creates a need for training materials for emergency reception centers and shelter staff and volunteers on how best to assist people with disabilities during an emergency or disaster within congregate shelters.

A coalition of charities and non-profits has come together to form Inclusive Emergency Preparedness Canada (IEPC). IEPC was created to provide training and guidance on disaster preparedness for people with disabilities and is committed to providing clear instructions on how to implement the customer service standard in an emergency shelter.

IEPC, a partnership between March of Dimes Canada, Canadian Red Cross and the Inclusive Preparedness Center, is working in partnership with the Ontario government through the EnAbling Change Partnership Program.

Through this partnership, IEPC will provide both advance preparedness and just-in-time training materials for shelter staff and volunteers to help them provide the necessary supports and services for their clients with disabilities in the event of an emergency.

"We have seen the value of preparedness in our own supportive housing units and offices when dealing with an emergency," says Andria Spindel, President and CEO of March of Dimes Canada, and a member of the IEPC Steering Committee.

"The Canadian Red Cross is very pleased to be participating in this partnership," says John Saunders, Provincial Director of Disaster Management with the Canadian Red Cross. "We are committed to ensuring equal and effective access to service and support such as shelter during times of emergency."

"With instruction and guidance, shelter staff and volunteers can be trained to effectively interact with people with disabilities during emergency situations, eliminating the problems encountered during previous disasters," said Carl T. Cameron, Ph.D., President of the Inclusive Preparedness Center, based in Washington D.C, and member of the IEPC Steering Committee.

"In an emergency situation, people with disabilities should not have to worry about barriers that may prevent them from getting the help they need. This partnership will help shelter staff and volunteers break down barriers and provide critical services to people of all abilities," said Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services.

Membership on the IEPC Advisory Committee includes the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, Caregiver Omnimedia, MS Society of Canada, Toronto Branch, Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, Region of Peel, Emergency Management Ontario, CNIB, March of Dimes Canada, Easter Seals Ontario, Canadian Red Cross, Variety Village, Ontario Seniors' Secretariat, and the International Federation of aging, St. John Ambulance, City of Kingston, University of Toronto, York University, Kapuskasing Fire Department, Regional Municipality of Durham Department of Social Services.

The Canadian Red Cross responds to thousands of disasters each year in Canada and around the world. As a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 187 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, its mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity.

The Inclusive Preparedness Center, formerly the Center for Disability and Special Needs Preparedness, is a project of Inclusion Research Institute (IRI), a U.S.-based non-profit, 501(c) 3 organization, educating consumers and professionals on innovative approaches in health and welfare enabling persons of all ages, including individuals with disabilities and other special needs to lead independent and productive lives.

March of Dimes Canada is a nationally registered charitable organization providing support services to people with disabilities, their families and caregivers across Canada.

For further information: Tanya Elliott, Director, Public Affairs, Canadian Red Cross, Ontario Zone, (905) 890-1000 ext. 202, tanya.elliott@redcross.ca or Lisa Marr, Public Information Officer, Inclusive Preparedness Center, (410) 960-2742, lmarr@inclusionresearch.org or Ruth Kapelus, Public Relations Coordinator, MARCH OF DIMES CANADA, 10 Overlea Boulevard, Toronto, ON, M4H 1A4, Tel: (416) 425-3463 x 7254, Fax: (416) 425-1920, rkapelus@marchofdimes.ca or Sandy Mangat, Ministry of Community and Social Services, (416) 212-3262








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