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Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness will implement and maintain a program that is inclusive of persons with I/DD and that builds capacity for disaster preparation, emergency response, and related procedures and systems.

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Why is NCCDD funding this initiative? Goal 2 of the new Five Year Plan: Increase community living for individuals with I/DD.

  • Today, more than ever, more people with disabilities or access and functional needs are living independently. Personal emergency preparedness is a vital part of that independence.

  • In 2008 the North Carolina Disability and Elderly Emergency Management (DEEM) Task Force identified gaps in the areas of Communication, Maintaining Health, Independence, Safety and Support, and Transportation as it related to people with intellectual or other developmental disabilities (I/DD) and access and functional needs. 

  • In 2013 North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) and the NC Council for Developmental Disabilities formed a partnership and embarked on an Emergency Preparedness Initiative based on June Kailes’ “Function Based Framework for Emergency Management and Planning.” (http://www.jik.com/KailesEndersbeyond.pdf) 

  • Five (5) advisory committees were formed, each with a specific focus: Communication, Maintaining Health, Independence, Safety and Support, and Transportation. By bringing together emergency officials and individuals with disabilities to review plans and processes systemic changes could be made ensuring that plans reflected the whole community. 

  • This joint effort was outlined in the “North Carolina Emergency Preparedness Initiative and Blueprint” (https://ncdps.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/div/EM/2014EM-IDDReport-Web(2).pdf)

  • North Carolina’s Division of Emergency Management (NCEM) incorporated inclusive terminology in response plans, and modified training and exercises to include people of all abilities.

  • This new planning and response model involves the whole community as they plan for, respond to, recover from and mitigate natural and man-made disasters.

  • This initiative supports NCCDD's Goal 2 of the Five Year Plan: Increase community living for individuals with I/DD.

What are the major goals and objectives?

  • Involve individuals with I/DD or access and functional needs and their families in planning and preparation for disasters.
  • Facilitate collaboration between County Emergency Management offices and local grassroots organizations to encourage joint emergency preparedness planning and inclusion of self-advocates for participation in drills and exercises.
  • Development and implementation of best practices that include considerations of persons with I/DD and access and functional needs in emergency situations.

What has taken place since the start of the program? (Activities)

  • First responders and disaster professionals have been educated on People First terminology and how to appropriately interact, respond to, and best meet the needs of people with I/DD or access and functional needs. This work is continually ongoing.
  • Five (5) voluntary committees, each focusing on an area of the framework: Communication, Maintaining Health, Independence, Safety and Support, and Transportation have come together meeting 4-6 times each year since 2013 to facilitate communication, eliminate old ideas and develop new ways to approach gaps.
  • Preparedness resources were developed, distributed and made available on Ready NC to educate and empower individuals with I/DD and access and functional needs. These materials followed guidelines set forth by disability experts and self-advocates.
  • Sub-committees formed that took on the review and update of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training materials to use inclusive examples and People First terminology. Attraction and promotion of inclusive teams has grown the NC CERT program to include people with disabilities, and expanded NCEM knowledge about interacting with people who have disabilities.
  • Committees have evaluated and made adjustments to replacement processes for durable medical equipment and medications by communicating with the NC Pharmacy Board and other state agencies facilitating changes that serve everyone.
  • Review of state and local government plans to enhance emergency operation plans and put People First terminology in place.
  • Surveys of transportation providers plans to ensure provisions are made with respect to people with I/DD and their families, caregivers, and service animals.

What has been achieved to date?

  • A program coordinator focused on emergency preparedness for persons with I/DD was hired to work in the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management solely to support the Committees and their work.
  • Worked closely with June Kailes, Disability Policy Consultant (www.jik.com) to align NCEM planning and programs to include best practices from across the country.
  • Developed a program to distribute emergency preparedness information to individuals with I/DD through the community-based Meals on Wheels programs.
  • Distributed more than 700 “Show Me: A Communication Tool for Emergency Shelters” to responders in all 100 counties across the State. (https://readync.org/img/ShowMeBook_2015b.pdf)
  • Linked with at least 36 agencies who support individuals with disabilities and the “Ready NC” website to distribute I/DD specific disaster planning resources and policies statewide.
  • Partnered with voluntary groups to conduct simulations and exercises to ensure appropriate response for those with I/DD or access and functional needs.
  • Updated the “Ready NC” website to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WAG) 2.0 standards for people with all types of disabilities.
  • Developed inclusive Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) (https://readync.org/EN/Involved_CERT.html) program classroom materials and teaching methods. This pilot program was highlighted at the CERT 30th anniversary celebration in California that was attended by CERT members from across the USA.
  • Partnered with (47) different agencies, programs and organizations to promote whole community planning and response.
  • Developed and posted (11) ASL emergency preparedness videos, (https://www.youtube.com/user/NCEmergency/videos)
  • Shared best practices and encouraged county leaders to learn more about their local Centers for Independent Living
  • Ordered Durable Medical Goods and Functional Needs Support items for the mass care trailers located across the state and instituted a process to send out a reminder about their availability when shelter operations begin in future emergency responses.
  • A process was instituted with the Pharmacy Board to notify all pharmacies following a Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency to enable them to refill prescriptions early to allow individuals to maintain an uninterrupted supply of necessary medication.
  • Developed an emergency preparedness curriculum designed for people with I/DD due for release in 2017 at www.imready.info

What long-term changes are expected as a result of this initiative?

  • Continued capacity building focused on disaster preparation, emergency response and related procedures and systems inclusive of people with I/DD, access and functional needs or other disabilities
  • Implementation of National Emergency Management Association recommendations for inclusion of the entire community, from planning to response via advisory boards and committees.
  • Use of People First terminology in day-to-day work is expected and reinforced by leadership.
  • Continued involvement of people with disabilities in tabletop and full scale exercises to reflect the whole community needs and concerns.
  • NCEM established a permanent Disability Integration Specialist position. 

How can I get involved?

Contact: Greta Herring, [email protected], (919) 825-2568
Intellectual & Developmental Disability Grant Coordinator, Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management

Who is the contractor?

NC Dept of public safety

NC Department of Public Safety

Who can I contact for questions?

Grantee: Abby Cameron, [email protected]

NCCDD: Philip Woodward, Systems Change Manager, [email protected]


Additional Resources


Ready NC Website, https://readync.org/EN/Index.html

Show Me: A Communication Tool for Emergency Shelters (Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with I/DD)


FREE ReadyNC App ASL video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R16slXybCGw

Click here to download a one pager of this initiative.



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North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

Office Hours: 9AM-4PM Monday-Friday
1-800-357-6916 (Toll Free)
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This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001NCSCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

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