Mitigation in 'Nothing About Us Without Us' in Emergency Management

Submitted by Paul Simmons on Fri, 08/02/2019

There are four phases of Emergency Management programs as put forward by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA): Mitigation; Preparedness; Response; and Recovery in that:

  1. Mitigation that focuses on preventing future emergencies or minimizing their effects;
  2. Preparedness on how to handle emergencies;
  3. Response to save lives and prevent further property damage in emergency situations; and
  4. Recovery includes actions taken to return to a normal or an even safer situation following an emergency.

This issue will focus on mitigation followed by the other three phases in future blogs. Mitigation is to plan and establish procedures to deal with different emergencies. Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.

FEMA defines mitigation to be the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. To be effective we would need to take action before disaster occurs so that the impact of disasters on human and financial resources can be achieved. For mitigation to be effective, it is important to know that disasters can occur anytime and anywhere, sometimes with fatal results.

For mitigation to be effective, state and local government entities should make efforts to ensure that their citizens are mindful of the hazards involved in all types of emergency conditions. Such emergency management programs should also address the hard choices in their efforts to reduce the impact of such situations. Being unprepared could result in adverse impact. Without mitigation actions, the safety, financial security and self-reliance of communities on state and local levels could be put at risk.

As disasters can happen at anytime and anyplace; their human and financial consequences are hard to predict. Lately we have seen an increase in the number of disasters each year but—according to FEMA—only 50% of such events result in Federal help.

Now we need to question if individuals with disabilities are included in these disaster mitigation plans. We also need to be aware as to what extent are they involved. The role of FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination is to ensure that emergency managers share responsibility to meet the needs of the whole community. It is encouraged that people with disabilities should be included in mitigation planning.

FEMA states that for millions of Americans who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, effective emergency mitigation present a real challenge. The same challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs populations. It is necessary to involve different people with different disabilities and needs in the mitigation process.

Millions of Americans who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities are often more affected by emergencies than others in their communities. The same challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs populations. So it would be mindful for the responsible entities to take action to mitigate the effect of disasters on these populations.

State and local government entities responsible for emergency preparedness must take the initiative and reach out to members of the disability community in their local area to include them in all preparedness activities. Individuals with disabilities are experts in what programs and services they will need to allow for their independence in the event of an emergency. Planning without their input is planning for failure.

FEMA's mitigation programs help reduce the impact of events—and our dependence on taxpayers and the Treasury for disaster relief. FEMA also has the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) that manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA implements a variety of programs authorized by Congress to reduce losses that may result from natural disasters. Are these programs accessible for people with disabilities, especially for those with communication disabilities?

FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Helpline on 1-800-621-3362 is available if you have questions about help offered by FEMA. More information is available on the web page.

The adage of Nothing about Us without Us should be heeded, in mitigating disasters. The inclusion of persons with different types of disabilities in all aspects of Emergency planning will ensure the full integration and inclusion for everyone in the community.

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The Rocky Mountain ADA Center's blog, Access Granted, tackles ADA issues through unique and diverse perspectives. Articles are written by staff of RMADAC and a variety of special guest authors. Some may be educational, others might be personal or thought-provoking. Either way, Access Granted will bring you the ADA of today!

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