Planning considerations for persons with access and functional needs in a disaster—Part 1: Overview and legal
Keywords:disasters, at-risk populations, special healthcare needs, vulnerable populations
Although disasters can affect anyone in a given community or region, those with access and functional needs have the highest rates of morbidity and mortality during an emergency or disaster. There are many unique and complex issues that should be considered when planning and caring for these individuals in a disaster situation. Who are these individuals, what specific issues should be addressed when considering these members of the population, and what recommendations can be made to address their unique needs? How can we include them as part of the all-hazard, comprehensive approach to disaster management? The first part of this three-part series identifies who is included in this population and what are the legal considerations that arise in caring for, not only this unique group but also all the members of the community in a disaster. The second part considers evacuation, sheltering, sheltering in place, communication, medical needs, independence, supervision, and transportation (CMIST) with a focus on mental health. The third part deals with the medical aspect of CMIST and with recommendations that may aid disaster responders and planners in caring for these high-risk individuals in a disaster.
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