Webinar: Personal Assistance During Disasters

audio version (opens in a new tab)

Introduction

I have become interested in emergency management webinars in part because of the pandemic. On July 8, 2021, I attended a webinar hosted by the

Pacific ADA Center

Entitled

“How Personal Assistance Services Promote the Self-Determination of People with Disabilities Recovering from Disaster”.

The link above includes useful handouts, recording and a transcript. In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned.

Personal Assistance: An Overview

The webinar began with an overview of personal assistance. Personal assistance services can help people with disabilities maintain activities of daily living. Sheltering at the local level is crucial. Without personal assistance services, a person with disability could end up in a nursing home. People with disabilities have the right to be served in the community. Centers for independent living and disability advocacy organizations can be useful resources. A presentation was also given by the

American Red Cross.

Perspective: American Red Cross

A representative from the Red Cross stated the organization is committed to providing what is needed for everyone. This includes planning ahead when necessary. For example, Louisiana provides personal assistant services in shelters. Focus then focused on the

Federal Emergency Management Agency

perspective.

Perspective: FEMA

FEMA offers a

personal assistance policy guide.

Personal assistance services are typically provided by private non-profit organizations. Disaster contracts to provide personal assistance must be in place before a disaster occurs. A request for public assistance must be submitted to FEMA for provision. Typically, such request is made by the state or territory. A state’s emergency management office can be a useful source of information. The event wrapped up with a question-and-answer session.

Question-and-Answer

In question-and-answer session, the Red Cross representative reiterated importance of advance planning. It is important to plan for multiple things when creating a public assistance contract. It is important for personal assistance to available upon request whenever possible. If it is not available, the goal should be having more than one resolution method available.

Question for Readers

During disaster preparation, what aspects of disability accommodation do you consider most important? I will return with another article.

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