175339 Best practices for decontamination with special populations

Monday, October 27, 2008: 10:50 AM

Kimberly Taylor, MA , Extended Services Department & Deaf Access Program, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, Chicago, IL
Anjali Truitt, MPH , Institute for Public Health Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Kris Balfanz-Vertiz, MSW/LSW , Extended Services Department & Deaf Access Program, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, Chicago, IL
Emergency plans are generally created for individuals who can hear, speak, and understand English, and who have the ability to walk, run, or drive as directed. However, there are large segments of the population who cannot do one or more of these. They are more vulnerable when disaster occurs.

Sinai Health System conducted a Hazardous Material drill on August 1, 2007. Participant composition reflected our patient population. It included:

• People who are Deaf and whose primary language is American Sign Language

• Individuals with physical disabilities whose primary language is English.

• People (with or without a disability) whose primary language is Spanish and who have limited or no English.

Trained Spanish and American Sign Language interpreters were included as part of the decontamination team, as were occupational and physical therapists who specialize in the rehabilitation of people with physical disabilities.

Following the drill, participants engaged in hour-long focus groups with other members of their “population”. These groups were conducted in the participants' primary languages. Additionally, a focus group was held with the decontamination staff.

Findings included:

• Simple adaptations vastly improve the quality of service offered.

• With the proper equipment and training, decontamination times are not significantly longer for people with mobility limitations.

• We can enhance service delivery by including users' perspectives.

Based on the information gleaned in post-drill focus groups, this presentation offers suggestions for best practices for future decontamination situations. These enhancements have a Universal Benefit, making existing plans more suitable for ALL individuals.

Learning Objectives:
o Identify 5 potential barriers for vulnerable populations that may occur during a hazardous material decontamination o Suggest solutions for overcoming barriers during decontamination o Design a hazardous materials decontamination plan that includes the needs of people who have physical disabilities, who are Deaf, and/or who are monolingual Spanish

Keywords: Disasters, Disability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Primary Investigator (one of three) on this research study. I oversaw the data collection and have been the lead analyst.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.