A person is hurt in an accident and needs medical assistance. This can be a traumatic moment for anyone, but what if that person has special needs? How do you calm him/her? How will you communicate effectively in the middle of a high-stress moment? This is an issue emergency personnel face at any time with the reported number of children with disabilities tripling in the last 50 years. Since the 1970s, work has been done to create the amount of resources available for first responders, improve their education on how to work with those who are developmentally disabled and relay important information to them during a crisis.
Some states, like Missouri, have used grants to create an emergency database of persons with disabilities in their area. If a person with special needs is involved in an accident, the first responder can pull up that information en route and adjust their care accordingly. In other states, police, fire, and EMS personnel are now receiving training on how to evaluate individuals with special needs at an accident scene. Nonprofit organizations serving people with disabilities have also gotten involved by creating evaluation and response materials specifically for emergency personnel. These resources have been created for the first responder to use in the field to calm and evaluate the person and provide them with better care and compassion. You can find online examples like Texas A&M’s very useful site, http://disabilitytips.tamu.edu/ or the US government’s http://www.cdc.gov/features/emergencypreparedness/ site.
Here at Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) the safety of our clients is our first priority. DRTC routinely runs safety drills for fire, tornado and lockdown in order to be prepared for the unexpected. If a situation should develop, each building is equipped with walkie-talkies, emergency flip charts guide and designated emergency staff to guide response and take action appropriately.
The axiom is true: “always be prepared.”