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Relationships keep people safe

July 26, 2009

A couple of years ago, I was part of an inter-agency committee looking at disaster preparedness planning for people with disabilities.  The purpose of the committee was to look at existing protocols within our provincial and local disaster response system and see whether they adequately addressed the needs of people with disabilities, and also to discuss how we in the social services sector might coordinate our own planning to reduce people’s vulnerability in the event of a natural disaster.

I came across a handy little article entitled Personal Preparedness Tips for People with Disabilities, “…a checklist of activities for people with disabilities to improve [their] emergency preparedness in a disaster or emergency.”  Seeing as the article was published by the Ministry of Public Safety, I figured it would talk about having three days worth of food and water on hand, practicing emergency drills and such.  But at the top of their list was “Establish a Personal Support Network.”   That’s right – identify people you know and trust who you can call upon in an emergency.  Family, friends, neighbours, roommates, co-workers…exchange contact information, and plan to check in on each other in the event of a disaster. 

One of the things we found intriguing about the Personal Support Networks demonstration project was that it was funded through CLBC’s Safeguards committee.  In the past, people with disabilities were kept in institutions and sent to special programs because it was believed they would be safer there; in fact being removed from the community and separated from typical peers and loved ones increased their vulnerability. 

Programs and buildings don’t keep people safe, relationships keep people safe.


Kiki enjoys a stroll with Vivica at last summer's picnic

Kiki enjoys a stroll with Vivica at last summer's picnic

Hey – what a lot of activity since I was last here!  We’ve surpassed our record of daily views already and the day is young.  Great posts, Ernie and Aaron.  And to all of you out there in blogland, I hope you’re enjoying our musings.  Two more hours to go!  – Susan

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