Special Access /Functional Needs Students and College Safety
Dr. Roger Mason and Joseph Zelenis
Joseph Zelenis is LECMgt’s special access and functional needs (SAFN) advisor. Joe is very interested in helping the disabled with the topic of emergency preparedness. For the past 27 years Joe has been a volunteer with the Los Angeles Police Department working a variety of assignments. He is currently assigned to the LAPD VST (Volunteer Surveillance Team) at West Valley Station where he is involved in the virtual patrol of high crime areas using surveillance cameras. I recently spoke with Joe and discussed how SAFN students can prepare for disasters and emergencies, and we are proud to share his suggestions below:
Going to college for the start of a new year takes preparation. One important area that is often overlooked is preparing for emergencies. If an emergency or disaster occurs every student should be prepared to care for themselves. This is especially important for SAFN students. There are three things they should consider regarding emergency preparedness: doing your homework, preparing your support system, and setting up lines of communications.
Doing Your Homework
Every college and university has an emergency plan. You need to read it. You need to know what help is available and how to access it. Once a disaster has occurred and the power is out it may be difficult to start surfing the web and looking for information.
Doing your homework means mapping out what emergency assistance may be available and how to access it. Relying on assumptions that someone is coming to help may not provide much assistance during an emergency. Having a realistic appraisal of what you can expect in the way of assistance is a critical part of your preparedness package.
Preparing Your Support System
SAFN students may require some type of assistance for daily living. After a disaster or emergencies occurs the assistance and resources normally available may be suspended. You need to assess what you require on a daily basis to live and then determine how you will provide for those needs after a disaster. After a major disaster stores may be closed or the streets to reach them blocked.
You need to have a bare minimum of supplies to keep going for at least 72 hours. You should also have some basic supplies for any caregivers that you require. They may not be prepared and since you rely on their help you should have supplies for them.
You should have food and water for at least 72 hours. These items must be simple because the post disaster conditions may limit your food preparation capabilities. Depending on your medical condition you should have extra supplies such as ostomy items. You should have several types of lighting systems for you and your caregiver. This includes a pair of flashlights and battery powered lantern for your room.
These supplies should be kept in an emergency backpack in case you have to leave your home suddenly. You may have to move to an emergency shelter. Identify what items you will need for your care and personal comfort should you be evacuated to a shelter.
These items should be kept together and having a backpack or bag to carry them will be very helpful in the confusion of a disaster or emergency. You should have any important medical information in an envelope that is clearly marked. You may be incapacitated and it will be important to have this information readily available for rescuers and follow on caregivers who may not be familiar with you.
Having a personal communications system is very important. Your personal system should include plans to maintain your ability to communicate, information you or caregiver may need, and establishing a communications plan. Not only will you be communicating but others may be communicating for you.
For most students communications is done using a personal communications device such as a cell or phone or perhaps a tablet computer. The biggest challenge is keeping them charged so they work. You should always insure your devices are charged or charging before going to bed. You should purchase a portable power bank item capable of charging your tablet or cell phone. These items are easily portable and typically cost less than $75 dollars. You should purchase a device capable of multiple recharges. This will help you stay connected to your personal communications.
Have a printed list of all your important phone numbers. This should also include any of medical care providers. It can be risky relying on an electronic address book which may fail. You should always have a hard copy that you can fall back on if your electric address book is lost or unavailable. This should include a brief explanation of who the persons are and how to reach them. This will also be easier for caregivers if you become incapacitated.
The time to prepare for a disaster or emergency is today. For members of the special access functional needs community knowing your local emergency plan is critical. Having supplies for you and your caregiver is very important. Being prepared to communicate during a disaster will help as you reach out to your various support systems.
For additional information about preparing your SAFN community for disasters contact www.lecmgt.com.