The Emergency Preparedness Initiative Guide for Emergency Managers, Planners & Responders

On September 11, the entire staff of The Associated Blind (a New York City provider for low- and no-vision clients) calmly and safely evacuated their building;s 9th floor, a success they attribute directly to the customized advance emergency planning and drills. After the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the local emergency management office had suggested they work with the New York City Fire Department to develop a building evacuation plan and drill for their staff, most of who have limited or no vision. The Associated Blind wanted a plan for their staff that would include a range of problems that could occur during a disaster. Their efforts paid off.

After the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, the National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) immediately formed a task force comprised of U.S. Government officials, disability community leaders and disaster relief groups to identify special needs of people with disabilities during emergencies. The task force effort led to N.O.D.'s Emergency Preparedness Initiative. Its purpose is to ensure that people with disabilities are included in emergency preparedness planning and response at all levels of our society.

The Emergency Preparedness Initiative Guide for Emergency Managers, Planners & Responders highlights key disability concerns to officials and experts responsible for emergency planning in their communities. It is designed to assist emergency managers, planners, and responders in developing plans that take into account the needs and situations of people with disabilities during the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

This guide does not propose costly and time-consuming new initiatives or a separate set of procedures. Rather it is a call to include the interests of people with disabilities in emergency preparedness efforts so that they have just as much of an opportunity to prepare for and survive an emergency.