EMA Prepares to Evacuate Elderly During Hurricane

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A report from the AARP shows that one quarter of seniors 75 and older are unable to evacuate before a hurricane without help.

Many emergency management agencies are taking this information into consideration as they create their hurricane evacuation plans.

The study shows more than 340,000 people in Florida alone could be stranded in their home if a hurricane created the need for an evacuation.

Emergency Managing Agencies are trying to allocate more resources to special needs individuals to ensure a safer and more efficient response

Hurricane Katrina has shed light on many problems with emergency response. One area many emergency management agencies are concentrating on improving is transportation and medical equipment and supplies for people with special needs.

"They're special people with special needs," said Shelby Womack, Houston Co. EMA Specialist.

Most shelters are not equipped with medical equipment to provide for those with serious medical conditions. Transportation also becomes a major issue to move people who are wheelchair bound and don't have their own means of being evacuated.

"They have mobility and transportation issues that prevent them from making short trips so government has stepped in to save lives," said Sid Busick, Bay Co. EMA Specialist.

EMA officials say one of the most important ways to ensure safe evacuations is for facilities like nursing homes to have plans in place and to practice them regularly.

"They need to exercise the plans on a regular basis like we hold regular exercise to make sure people know what to do," said Buick.

Many of the new plans that will be implemented this year have detailed instructions on how to care for and assist senior citizens if the need for mass evacuation becomes necessary.

EMA officials say if an evacuation does become necessary, people will check into shelter as usual.

They will then be screened ABND directed to different facilities based on their individual medical conditions.

However, all shelters will have triage facilities to handle basic medical needs.

State lawmakers passed legislation this spring intended to help seniors in a natural disaster.

The plan allows seniors to get prescription refills before storms and helps disabled people prepare for hurricanes.