Identification and inclusion of vulnerable populations during emergency planning: A real-world application
APHA's 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo (Nov. 2 - Nov. 6)
Background. Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) participates in and often leads initiatives for preparing, responding, and recovering from extreme weather and other disasters. Identifying those populations most vulnerable has been a top priority in efforts to reduce susceptibility and recovery time after disasters. Despite planning efforts, these groups are often disproportionately impacted by emergencies; which is due, in part, to difficult living conditions and a lack of resources within those communities. Methods. As part of a state driven initiative, EPR aligned with the Metro Atlanta Public Health Districts to address planning gaps for vulnerable populations through a multi-tiered approach of assessing population needs, identifying partners to collaborate with, and development of a curriculum consisting of competencies reflective of the recognized hazard vulnerabilities. We structured our efforts through two initiatives: establishing emergency notification protocols to alert populations of emergencies and provide recommended courses of action, and to provide resilience curriculum to be shared by service providers. Results. Our initiatives garnered the following: 1) a toolkit consisting of several resources to aid districts in engaging and fostering relationships with partners, 2) a more standardized approach to planning for diverse populations and their needs. Conclusion. To address the disparities in vulnerable populations emergency planning, we created a multi-faceted statewide approach targeting several populations and their vulnerabilities. Through strategic planning efforts we created curriculum that has increased the inclusion of vulnerable populations, which we foresee contributing to a reduced recovery time to disasters as a result of people and partners being more prepared.