The proposed project is designed to fill an important yet unmet need by developing an online education program using simulations and scenario-based learning to reach all public health and safety emergency responders (and students) responsible for emergency planning with, and response for, individuals with disabilities. In Phase II, the applicant organization, Praxis, Inc., and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School will collaboratively complete development and field-testing of a comprehensive emergency preparedness and response educational curriculum (Emergency Operations Plans for Individuals with Disabilities [EOPD]). We will add substantially to modules created in Phase I in order to create a comprehensive curriculum that both broadens and deepens first responder capacity to address the needs of persons with disabilities. Phase II's six modules will include: Disability Community Demographics and Disaster Experiences; Efficient and Effective 1:1 Interaction and Communication with Individuals with Disabilities; Inclusive, Whole Community Functional and Access Need-Based Emergency Planning; Mapping Techniques and Technologies for Vulnerable Populations; Inclusive Mass Care Sheltering: Physical Access, Shelter Services and Resources; and Accessible Evacuation and Transportation. In addition to teaching disability specific information, we will teach skills related to 1:1 interaction and communication with people with disabilities before, during, and after emergencies and disasters. We will also teach strategies for implementing a whole community planning process. Phase I included a prototype geographic information system (GIS) mapping tool (a map and related editable database) that learners used to locate shelters, evacuation vehicles, the flood zone hazard area, and certain vulnerable populations. This functionality will be revised and expanded in Phase II and will enable learners to add new information to the database and amplify the ways that this information can be displayed and used for critical emergency decision making. Phase II will also expand the kinds of disabilities covered, including hearing, cognitive, multiple disabilities, and mental illness, in addition to vision, mobility disabilities, and autism previously covered. The program will be web based, available anytime, anywhere to anyone using any Internet-connected device including computers, tablets, and smartphones. Learners will gain new content and applied knowledge of appropriate emergency response actions, sharpening their skills by applying this knowledge to simulated real-life emergencies and adverse events that could potentially affect this population. As trained first responders provide more equitable and efficient emergency planning and response for individuals with disabilities, and as people with disabilities and service providers enhance collaboration to strengthen local preparedness and response, American communities will become stronger and more resilient.
|Wolf-Fordham, Susan B; Twyman, Janet S; Hamad, Charles D (2014) Educating first responders to provide emergency services to individuals with disabilities. Disaster Med Public Health Prep 8:533-40|