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Posted by Philip on 21 September 2010, 5:50 pm in , , , ,

Concern that disabled people could suffer more in a disaster

Disabled people, elderly people – even children – are needlessly vulnerable and could suffer unnecessarily in a disaster because they are not ready to act in an emergency. Civil Defence may not be ready to support them, says Diversityworks Trust, which will host a workshop to help people plan to survive in the event of a disaster.

Overseas reports show that disabled people are left behind in emergency planning and fare badly in situations like the recent Christchurch and Haiti earthquakes. Evidence also shows over 70 per cent of the casualties of Hurricane Katrina were older or disabled. Many people with disabilities in New Orleans were evacuated without their medicine, medical equipment, wheelchairs and service animals.

“Coping in a disaster like the recent Christchurch earthquake is hard for anyone,” says Trust founder and Director Philip Patston, “but I’ve talked to people who were unable get out of bed on their own and were unable to quickly leave the house. Imagine being a single parent with infants? What would you do?  Waiting for emergency services to find you could mean waiting to die.”

“We can never make anyone feel 100% safe about these situations,” says Patston. “But we do believe that by making people more aware of what they can do and helping them to establish networks of support and communication, they can feel more ready to respond in emergency situations.”

The workshop will be run by security and safety consultant Tony Lewis of TLC Consulting. “The average person has the ability to plan and procure items that they will need to survive more easily than someone who needs assistance, or who needs to assist others,” says Lewis.

“People in such situations generally rely on some form of support network to assist with their day to day requirements. To ensure the safety and wellbeing during and after a disaster it is integral that every person involved as part of the support network is made aware of their requirements and is involved from the onset with the planning process.”

The workshop will assist those who experience disability, are elderly or who have independent responsibility for young children to think about the type of disasters that could affect them and their family; to think about the type of hazards they face in their home; to develop a response plan; to prepare equipment, food and water; to consider the establishment of a support network; and to take actions to reduce risk.

Diversityworks Trust promotes diversity through creativity and education by running projects and social networks that promote confidence and potential. Established in 2005 by comedian and social entrepreneur Philip Patston, Diversityworks Trust facilitates a peer support network committed to shared support and learning in a social environment between people who experience both similar and different circumstances.

To register for the free workshop email barbara@diversitynz.com before Friday 24 September

“Diversity Disaster Response” workshop
Garden Room, Grey Lynn Community Centre
Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland
Saturday 25 September 10.30am to 12.30pm.

 

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