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Clinical Professionals
This Months Featured Article

Emergency Preparedness For Clinical Professionals

You may be called upon to assist persons with disabilities during an emergency such as a fire, flood, earthquake or other disaster.  It is also a possibility that you may train other personnel who will be assisting persons with disabilities.  The following tips are provided to assist you in this effort.

  1. A person with a disability is a person first and this is the preferred way to address the fact.  For example, “There is a person who uses a wheelchair on the second floor.”  The person is usually the expert on their own needs and should be asked before lifting or moving them.
  2. Persons who have hearing loss or speech impairments may need a little extra time for communication.
  3. Emergency personnel should know that a person must never be separated from his or her assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes, special dietary food, incontinent supplies or perhaps a service animal, usually a dog.
  4. Emergency workers should be aware that the equipment required by a disabled person may not be working or may be insufficient for disaster circumstances.
  5. A disaster may temporarily confuse trained dogs that usually provide assistance to the person with a disability.
  6. Some persons who have emotional or developmental disabilities may be upset and unable to respond appropriately to instructions or directions.  Quiet areas may help persons to regain control of their emotions. Personnel should know that fear may cause some persons to try to hide from those who are there to assist them.
  7. People who have significant learning or developmental disabilities may not be able to read or understand warning signs such as barricade tape or “Danger” signs. 

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