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Emergency Preparedness

Paramedics wheel a patient out of an ambulanceEmergency planning, response, and recovery efforts are critical for all of us, including persons who may be members of the at-risk or special needs population. These individuals may have a need for assistance in a certain area, such as medical care, transportation, maintaining independence for daily living, supervision, or communication.  Persons with special needs or who are at risk in an emergency can include children, elderly persons, persons from diverse cultural origins, individuals with disabilities, individuals who are limited English speaking, persons who live in institutionalized settings, and persons who do not have access to transportation, among others. In many instances, individuals with special needs or who are at risk may be protected under the law from discrimination in an emergency. 

OCR enforces certain Federal laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, or age in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance, including emergency preparedness and response programs.  Federal law also prohibits state and local government entities from discriminating on the basis of disability.

Several resources exist that explain how nondiscrimination laws apply in an emergency.  Many excellent resources are available to help persons with disabilities, persons with limited English proficiency, and persons from diverse cultural origins prepare for and respond to an emergency.  Emergency planners, managers, and responders can also find very useful information to better understand how to effectively consider persons with special needs or who are at risk in emergency preparedness activities.  For our efforts to preserve life and property in an emergency to be successful, all of us must take action, at the individual level, as well as at the local, state, tribal, and national levels.