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Granting preparation: emergency preparedness initiative utilizes large grant from retail giant.

Compelled by the attacks of September 11, 2001, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) launched the Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) to ensure that emergency managers include people with disabilities in all levels of emergency preparedness--planning, response, and recovery. The NOD is the only cross-disability organization that has a fully dedicated emergency preparedness program operated by seasoned emergency management and disability experts. Retail giant Walmart, recognizing the EPI's unique ability to address emergency concerns affecting people with disabilities before, during, and after emergencies recently awarded the organization a $500,000 grant. Here, NOD's President Carol Glazer discusses with EP the recent award and the organization's mission.

Exception Parent (EP): What exactly is the National Organization on Disability's Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) and why do you think Walmart has chosen it to receive this grant?

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Carol Glazer (CG): Part of the National Organization on Disability's mission is to ensure equal access to people with disabilities in "all aspects of community life." EPI is the division that provides technical assistance and collaborative opportunities for federal, state, and local community emergency programs to address the needs of people with disabilities regarding planning, preparing, response and recovery from emergencies and disasters. Additionally, EPI is now delivering training and technical assistance programs for workplace emergency programs for businesses that hire employees with disabilities.

The relationship between Walmart and EPI has been long standing. Walmart Corporation has supported EPI in the past. Walmart recognizes the extraordinary value of the EPI program and determined that the need and issue is critical to creating resilient communities and individuals across the United States.

EP: How will the receipt of this grant affect EPI's work?

CG: This grant will enable EPI to expand our technical assistance through media outreach events, distribution of emergency preparedness materials through our annual National Mail Distribution Project, as well as the creation of a comprehensive personal preparedness DVD that will be fully accessible for people with disabilities.

EP: There is no doubt as to how valuable the work of EPI has been. Can you tell us a little about how your team's work has made an impact on legislation, etc.?

CG: When legislation is proposed on [Capitol] Hill, EPI is usually contacted to review or incorporate language that is fully inclusive of people with disabilities, as well as effective for emergency managers.

Our impacts can be seen in the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) and the continuing Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) that directly impact the emergency management community. Immediately post Katrina, EPI was asked to review possible amendments to the Robert T. Stafford Act that is used by FEMA to provide variable levels of assistance and reimbursement during Presidentially declared disasters.

In addition to legislation, there are also a myriad of policies that EPI has been involved in shaping, including the National Response Framework, the National Disaster Recovery Framework, and National Disaster Housing Strategy.

EP: What are some steps individuals with disabilities and their families can take to prepare themselves for emergencies?

CG: EPI developed and conducted a series of training programs for the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund in 2008. The principles of this training, specifically developed for special needs and disability audiences, centered on three principles: What's in your head (a plan); what's in your hand (a personalized "go-kit"); and what's in your home (a survival kit).

For those living independently, we believe that it is everyone's personal responsibility to be prepared (exceptions: if the person lives in assisted living centers or nursing homes). We have developed personal preparedness training materials that are available for download on our website and with support from Walmart, we are currently revising and updating this information that will once again be made available online.

EP: What materials does EPI provide for individuals to ready themselves for the unexpected?

CG: Our instructional program and pamphlets are available on-line and are given out (free of charge) when EPI is invited to present on the preparedness subject at conferences and meetings.

Currently we have a 6-part Personal Preparedness brochure series for people with different types of disabilities. As part of National Preparedness campaign for 2009, we released a new educational poster that includes action steps on preparedness, as well as a revised EPI Handbook Guide for people with disabilities and functional needs to educate themselves on how to plan and prepare for disasters that may strike within their own communities.

For more information on EPI or to access the resources discussed in the article, visit the NOD website at www.nod.org/emergency.
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Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2010
Words:754
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