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Disabled Forgotten In Emergencies Say CCS

2 Dec 2005

Disabled Forgotten In Emergencies Say CCS

CCS, the disability support and advocacy group, believe that people with disabilities can be affected very differently when a disaster occurs and emergency preparedness needs to be planned accordingly.

"With the large number of global and local disasters lately there has been a focus on natural, health and terror emergencies. The planning for people with disabilities in an emergency evacuation or 3-day survival process can be very different from others," said Viv Maidaborn, CEO of CCS. "This could include a deaf person being unable to hear emergency sirens or a person in bed being unable to reach their wheelchair after an earthquake and includes other general mobility needs," she said.

CCS is urging local councils to work more closely with the disability sector when planning emergency management in the future but is also encouraging individuals and their families to become more empowered about the situation.

Mark Harrison, Manager of Emergency Management at Horizons Regional Council in Manawatu says it is currently working with other emergency agencies on training and education surrounding disability issues.

"The issue of people with disabilities becoming trapped in their homes didn't manifest itself during the storms in February last year. If there are ever isolated incidents it is usually due to emergency agencies being unaware of where people with disabilities live. Therefore, where possible, we would always encourage working with neighbours and having a family plan, " he said.

Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson supports the development of a register of disabled people for emergency evacuation situations.

"I support the development of a register to help disabled people and people with limited mobility in an emergency such as flooding or an earthquake. It would not only help disabled people to prepare before an emergency happens, but also help in the delivery of essential service afterwards, such as the need for evacuation," she said.

CCS believes all New Zealanders need to take a look within their neighbourhood and see what is required during an emergency. "We are trying to urge a community focus and that may mean a person with a disability being pro-active within their neighbourhood and telling people what is required," said Viv Maidaborn.

CCS Background Information

CCS works in partnership with disabled people, their families and whanau to ensure equality of opportunity, quality of life and an environment that enhances full community integration and participation.

CCS exists to make a difference for disabled people, their families and whanau by removing barriers to inclusion and by offering support to disabled people to access all ordinary opportunities in their communities. Our community is made up of disabled people and their families and whanau, who live in Aotearoa New Zealand. We include all people who face barriers to inclusion on the basis of disability and who want to access the disability support services we provide.

Reflecting the commitment in the New Zealand Disability Strategy - Making A World of Difference Whakanui Oranga [Minister for Disability Issues April 2001], a key expectation of CCS work is that the New Zealand community grows its capacity to ensure that disabled people have the same rights, choices, opportunities and safeguards as other citizens.

CCS operates with a National Office and regional management structure, providing services nationally from 16 incorporated societies.

We deliver regular services to over 6,000 people with disabilities making us one of the largest disability support service providers in New Zealand.CCS works closely with other disability agencies to ensure we make best use of shared knowledge and resources, helping us to adopt best practice across the sector.

ENDS


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