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Ref: Special needs group working to help prepare for emergencies and disasters in Maryland

Disability and Special Needs

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Emergency Preparedness for Developmental Disabilities Service Providers, Individuals and Families



More than 50 organizations from across Maryland participated in emergency preparedness training in four Maryland regions this month. These regional training workshops gave participants an opportunity to learn about disaster readiness for people with developmental disabilities and other special needs.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) April 5, 2007 -- More than 50 organizations from across Maryland participated in emergency preparedness training in four Maryland regions this month. These regional training workshops gave participants an opportunity to learn about disaster readiness for people with developmental disabilities and other special needs.

As the next step, participants are invited to participate in one of four disaster readiness regional exercises (listed below), and a final regional functional exercise in June.

"These upcoming tabletop exercises are structured discussions based on a specific scenario. They will give participants experience with dealing with disasters," said Peter de Fries, Assistant Director for Operations for the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

The exercises are open to the media and will be held at the following locations:

Southern Maryland Disaster Readiness Regional Exercise, April 4, 2007: 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.


of Prince George's County, 1401 McCormick Drive, Largo, MD 20774;
Central Maryland Disaster Readiness Regional Exercise, April 12, 2007: 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Arc of Baltimore, 6151 Metro Drive, Baltimore, MD 21215;
Eastern Shore Disaster Readiness Regional Exercise - April 17, 2007: 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Benedictine Center, 14299 Benedictine Lane, Ridgely, MD 21660;
Western Maryland Disaster Readiness Regional Exercise - April 27, 2007: 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Potomac Center, 1380 Marshall St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.
Initiated in 2006, the Emergency Preparedness Education, Training and Exercise Project is a joint effort of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, DHMH's Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), and the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD). The project is an effort to improve the disaster readiness of DDA-licensed providers of services to individuals with disabilities, and the readiness of the individuals served. The Center for Disability and Special Needs Preparedness (DPC) provides materials and practices centered on assisting participants to be better prepared for large disasters.

Expanded in scope this year, the project includes individuals living independently in the preparation process.

"The model DPC has created is down to earth, easy to follow and understand," said Jolanta Stoops of Resource Connections of Prince George's County, who participated in a training session. "It is a good eye opener -- everyone was ready to talk about what they need to accomplish."

The workshops teach preparedness ideas for home, job and community situations to be used during the first 72 hours after a disaster. The program has been expanded to include individuals and their families, as well as service providers, emergency managers, health departments, and resource coordinating centers.

"These workshops have received an overwhelmingly positive response from developmental disabilities providers, as well as from the individuals they serve," said MDOD Secretary Cathy Raggio. "Maryland is becoming much better prepared as we move providers and individuals to a more self-reliant paradigm, and away from the notion that first responders will be available immediately when a disaster strikes."

"Prior to the onset of the project, most organizations focused on fires and medical emergencies," said Carl T. Cameron, Ph.D., President of the Center for Disability and Special Needs Preparedness. "Little attention had been given to emergencies originating outside of the facility, such as hurricanes or acts of terrorism. It is important to establish evacuation procedures, stockpile supplies and establish a command structure for these types of disasters."

For information on how to participate, contact: Peter de Fries at 410-767-5573 or deFriesP @dhmh.state.md.us; JoAnne Knapp at 410-767-3647 or jknapp @mdod.state.md.us; or Dr. Carl T. Cameron at 202-338-7158, ext. 201 or ctcameron @inclusionresearch.org.

About The Center:
The Center for Disability and Special Needs Preparedness is a center within Inclusion Research Institute (IRI), a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization which educates consumers and professionals on innovative approaches in health and welfare enabling persons of all ages, including individuals with disabilities and other special needs to lead independent and productive lives.

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