NATURAL & MAN-MADE DISASTER PLANNING FOR DISABLED, ILL, AND INJURED INDIVIDUALS
By Erin Vallely, ATI Advocacy Specialist
Whether a snowstorm in New York or the war in Ukraine, everyone is susceptible to unexpected disasters. With reports of at least 2.6 million verified disabled Ukrainians, plus hospitalized patients, and newly disabled war victims, this is a disability community crisis. As the Russian military continues to attack civilian areas, hospitals, hospices, orphanages, and schools for the disabled are being bombed. Many disabled and ill individuals are trapped in apartment buildings and houses because public bomb shelters are inaccessible. The lucky disabled and ill children are being rushed out of the country on special trains that have been converted into portable hospitals. After crossing into Poland, the children will be dispersed to other European children’s hospitals. Those who cannot escape, or have yet to be found by rescuers, suffer from the lack of food, clean water, and critical medical supplies and medications.
Emergency and Disaster Preparedness
While the crisis of disabled, ill, and injured Ukrainians is a disaster of uncommon size, natural and man-made disasters are disproportionately devastating for these individuals in every part of the world. Despite international guidelines and mandates, these populations are frequently not included during emergency disaster planning. No matter where you live, here are some things to consider when planning for an emergency or disaster to protect yourself and those around you.
- Safety – identify the safest place in your house or apartment building which is the lowest point, such as a basement or first floor room, and stay away from windows
- Communication – have an internet hotspot and/or battery-operated phone to contact others for help in case the power, internet services and phones go down
- Supplies – keep your wallet, identification, insurance cards and medications near each other so you do not forget them if you have to leave quickly
- Medical Needs – have an emergency care plan that includes your diagnoses, medications, and needs so you can easily share it with emergency response people and shelter workers
- Notify – tell your utility company if you have life-saving medical equipment or temperature sensitive medications to be added to their emergency response list that may be used to help prioritize evacuation efforts if necessary
- Evacuate – identify at least 2 accessible places in different areas you could go outside your neighborhood to stay if it is not safe to stay at your home
Although each emergency or disaster is different, being prepared ahead of time and having a plan minimizes stress and improves your safety.
Be Prepared for an Emergency and/or Disaster
- Educate yourself about disabled, ill and injured people’s rights during an emergency or disaster at https://disasterstrategies.org/disabled-know-your-rights-in-a-disaster/
- Read and complete the emergency and disaster preparedness book for disabled and ill individuals at https://frdat.niagara.edu/assets/ListPage/Disaster-Preparedness-for-IWDs.pdf
- Make an emergency bag and evacuation plan following the guide at https://frdat.niagara.edu/assets/ListPage/FEMA-ReadySpNeeds-web.pdf
Donate to Help Disabled, Ill and Injured Ukrainians
- To support evacuated disabled, ill, and injured Ukrainian children, you can donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Global which is helping families whose children are being taken from Ukraine to children’s hospitals throughout the rest of Europe at https://rmhc.org/get-involved/how-to-help/help-ukrainian-families
- To support more than 2,000 wounded Ukrainian soldiers, you can donate to Revived Soldiers Ukraine which funds army hospitals and rehabilitation services at https://www.rsukraine.org/
- To support the general medical needs of Ukrainian refugees, you can donate to Project HOPE, which provides medical supplies and assistance both to people trapped in the country and those who have evacuated to surrounding countries at https://www.projecthope.org/crisis-in-ukraine-how-to-help/03/2022/