Living With Fire Podcast episode 14

On Episode 14, experts discuss disaster preparedness challenges for those with disabilities and plans to help address these challenges

Hands of a person helping an older woman in a wheelchair.

Disaster planning must include consideration of those with disabilities. Photo by

Living With Fire Podcast episode 14

On Episode 14, experts discuss disaster preparedness challenges for those with disabilities and plans to help address these challenges

Disaster planning must include consideration of those with disabilities. Photo by

Hands of a person helping an older woman in a wheelchair.

Disaster planning must include consideration of those with disabilities. Photo by

Being prepared for when a wildfire or another natural disaster hits isn’t easy. For all of us, it takes some planning, time and effort. But, imagine that you have a disability or other access and functional needs. Being prepared for a natural disaster all of a sudden becomes that more challenging.

In the latest episode of the Living With Fire Podcast, Wildfire & the Whole Community, members of Extension’s Living With Fire team Megan Kay and Jamie Roice-Gomes delve into the critical need for inclusivity and accessibility in disaster preparedness. Expert guests Heather Lafferty and Kimberly Palma-Ortega shed light on the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and Access and Functional Needs (AFN) during emergencies and the necessary steps to ensure their safety and well-being.

Lafferty is coordinator for diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as AFN, at the Nevada Division of Emergency Management. Palma-Ortega is a public health liaison at the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. Drawing from real-world examples, the two describe the complex challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and those who have AFN during disasters. They also underscore the substantial disparity in outcomes between those with disabilities and those without, and that to decrease this disparity, emergency managers must incorporate accessibility from the outset when designing programs and systems, rather than treating accessibility as an afterthought.

Finally, they discuss collaborative efforts in the state to address these disparities, including the recently launched Nevada Access and Functional Needs Disaster Coalition, a comprehensive workgroup focusing on inclusive planning alongside the disability community, shifting from designing for them to designing with them.
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Living With Fire Ep. 14

Experts discuss disaster preparedness challenges for those with disabilities and plans to help address these challenges.

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Heather Lafferty 0:00
You know, there's this perception that persists even today that there's just a small group of people with disabilities and access and functional needs. And if we can just figure out what to do with that small population, you know, we can all kind of call it a day and go home victorious. But there are millions of Nevadans who do not identify as having a disability, but do have something that will limit their ability to act respond, you know, thrive and survive during a disaster.

Megan Kay 0:37
This is a living with fire podcast, brought to you by the University of Nevada Reno extension.

Hey there, welcome back. I'm your host, Megan Kay, Outreach Coordinator for the Living With Fire Program. This episode is a special one, we're really excited to share it with you. It's called wildfire in the whole community. And it's a discussion all about how disasters like wildfires can impact people with disabilities and people who have access and functional needs, and also the ways that emergency managers and government agencies are trying to close some gaps and better serve folks in these communities. Now, maybe you've never heard the term access and functional needs before. Don't worry, we're going to unpack that later. I was joined in this conversation by Jamie Roice-Gomes. Hi guys. This is Jamie Roice-Gomes. I am the manager of Living With Fire Program. Together. We interviewed Heather Lafferty and Kimberly Palma-Ortega. My name is Heather Lafferty and I am prepare yourself. The diversity equity, inclusion access and functional needs coordinator for the Nevada Division of Emergency Management.

Kimberly Palma-Ortega 1:54
Because my title is just as long

Megan Kay 1:58
All right, so my name is Kimberly Palma-Ortega, if my last name wasn't long enough, right there, I am the public health liaison overseeing emergency preparedness, access and functional needs as well as community health worker for the Nevada Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. And real quickly, I just wanted to share some key takeaways that Jamie and I had, after the interview, there was a lot of information that I didn't realize happen, that happened to people with disabilities or who didn't have access to functional needs during an emergency like a wildfire. And so I it really opened my eyes as to why it's important and what's going on. Yeah, that's something that I think will be sad. But also important for people to understand is like, the reasons why someone might stay home during an emergency, even when it's not this necessarily the safest choice. But you know, safe could be a relative term, which is something we're going to unpack in this episode. Totally. And so what really like resonated with me, I actually don't know, this was probably about seven years ago, I had to have surgery on both of my feet. And I, mobility was bound to a chair, and I had to come into my workspace. And it was very, very difficult to navigate. And you don't realize that.

Jamie Roice-Gomes 3:25
And, you know, I mean, even as an individual who, you know, I'm not bound to a chair right now. But, you know, there's certain things that I remember bumping into, but I still have those problems, you know, when I don't need to be found new chair. So I just, it was really interesting. Just considering that, you know, you need, you really need to be designing things well in the beginning, and not having it to be an add on.

Megan Kay 3:59
I'm really excited that we get to amplify this message and hopefully spread some awareness about the topic. Let's get into it. First of all, I wanted to maybe cover some basics and see if you could give us all a primer of just like the how do we talk about people with disabilities? What are the what's the right language to use? How do we do it with integrity and respect?

Kimberly Palma-Ortega 4:26
With that, I'm gonna kind of break it down into two part answer only for the fact that sometimes we're talking about a group of individuals versus a single individual when you're having direct conversation. And as we can see, with a lot of way that our generation has changed, the points of views have changed as well too, and how we approach and conversate with others. And with that, it's best practice to just kind of ask if people have a preference in communication, whether that's identity or people first language, and we can break that down a little bit as well too. So people first language is and has been known for where you put the person before the disability or diagnosis. Know, for example, we'll use Heather's daughter, if we were to be speaking on behalf of Jordan, you know, saying describing her to a group of first responders, you know, we would want to say something like, you know, Jordan is a young lady, a young adult, or a young individual that has Down syndrome, you know, versus if we go with identity, first, we'll use my daughter as an example. We would say, you know, the Karina is an autistic young lady, an autistic adult individual. And oftentimes, if there's other medical complexities, depending on what area they're speaking on behalf of, they might choose to use, you know, those more specific definitions of diagnosis of disabilities. And that relation we all as Heather mentioned, prior, we often see this with the Deaf in autism communities, they prefer to use identity first language. So as what the DD Council uses often is just person centered. So we are sure that person centered approach to make sure that we are being as considerate and respectful as we can then if we're not fair about something, just pausing, asking for clarification, before we move forward. Another approach that we like to, you know, try to include and educate people on to is, is that when we're trying to get specific material out, we just really need to kind of look at the audience that we're serving prior before. And after we're sending out material, look for feedback, have some action plans in finding the right key subject matter expert and what that might be. Outside of that, Heather, do you have anything that you feel that might be a good plug in as well to just from some of the stuff that you see on your end?

Heather Lafferty 6:47
No, I think you covered it pretty well. The only thing I would like to add is accessibility and accommodation is always worth the delay, to make sure that everyone you're speaking to is able to understand, communicate and facilitate a positive interaction. So those are kind of the key takeaways and but I think Kimberly really covered that most excellently.

Megan Kay 7:12
Let's take a quick break.

I wanted to take a quick break to talk about the Living With Fire Program. Maybe you found this podcast and you're wondering, what is the Living With Fire Program? Well, we've been around since 1997. We're managed by the University of Nevada, Reno extension. And we're really a collaborative effort amongst federal, state and local firefighting agencies, as well as resource management agencies to help people adapt, prepare and live more safely with wildfire. So if you haven't already, check out our website living with, where you'll find all of our resources and tools that will help you live more safely with wildfire. Okay, back to the show.

So I was wondering if you could just let us know how many people in Nevada are living with disabilities?

Heather Lafferty 8:08
Yeah, absolutely. So you know, and kind of add to that question, not only how many people in Nevada have unknown disability, but during a disaster, you know, for example, a wildfire who will need access to resources or have functional needs that will need to be planned for and met. But first, let me backtrack just a minute and say thank you for inviting me and Kimberly on a platform like living with fire. If we're going to have inclusion in our preparedness and accessibility and disasters, its allies like this podcast and the living with fire team, who will be a part of really moving that needle and getting the message out there. But to circle back to the question, if we're going by the CDC data 28% of Nevadans have a known disability. But really, if we're counting for all access and functional needs Nevadans have, we're reaching way much higher towards the 6760 70% of all Nevadans. You know, historically, as a nation, we have not done a very good job considering access and functional needs before, during or after disasters. In fact, there's even a lot of confusion, even still today about the term access and functional needs. Not everybody's kind of sees themselves within it, even if they are, you know, there's this perception that persists even today that there's just a small group of people with disabilities and access and functional needs. And if we can just figure out what to do with that small population. You know, we can all kind of call it a day and go home victorious. But there are millions of Nevadans who do not identify as having a disability. But do you have something that will limit their ability to act respond, you know, thrive and survive during a disaster. So, kind of leaning in towards that, you know Nevadans with access and functional needs. They are people with limited mobility. Individuals who are blind, deaf, deaf, blind, you know, the hard of hearing, but they're also individuals, you know, with intellectual disabilities. And once we've kind of exit the the disability realm, we really have to start focusing on all access and functional needs and making sure those are met to so that would include older adults and children, Nevadans whose primary language is an English, those who are experiencing domestic violence in in that kind of living situation, when the disaster strikes, Nevadans who have limited finances or come from underserved communities who have experienced, you know, historically underfunding racism, what it you know, whatever kind of the case may be, and Nevadans also on the health side, right, who might be taking a daily medication such as insulin. So if we kind of look at the broad perspective, you know, we're really not talking about a small outlier population, that we need to plan, you know, train, organize, and make sure we're including in our preparedness efforts, it's really a significant portion of Nevada, who are going to experience these challenges and limitations and barriers during a disaster.

Megan Kay 11:44
I would wonder, like, Would somebody who even just has asthma and needs, you know, like a nebulizer like, like, with electricity? And you know, what if the electricity is out during a wildfire?

Heather Lafferty 11:57
Yes, absolutely. So that would definitely be an access and functional needs that you need to have met. And there are so many other I mean, you know, my daughter, for instance, has, she was born with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. And she's downright awesome. But she has a feeding tube, that she gets the majority of her, you know, just a little button in her tummy. And we kind of just open it up and pour her formula right directly into her tummy. You know, but during a disaster, how do I get access to the formula, which is a prescription level formula, just so that she can eat and maintain her health? Or, you know, my husband is diabetic, right? And he needs his insulin. So how would we get access to his insulin? So these are kind of the things when we're talking about access and functional needs. You know, we really do, it begins and ends kind of with disability, right, because we've seen the inequities in, in really, you know, just the detriment to people with disabilities and disasters. But when we're doing our planning efforts, it really has to be a whole community approach, it has to be kind of focusing on all access and functional needs.

Megan Kay 13:18
Can you kind of unpack what you mean by we've seen that, like the detriment? Can you explain that for the listeners?

Heather Lafferty 13:28
Yeah, of course. So, you know, there's really two parts to kind of answering this question. The first part is, what impacts to disasters have on people with disabilities, where we see a significant gap compared to people without disabilities? And how is everyone private government and the disability community, you know, really helping to close those gaps? So, for the first part, you know, I hate to continually harken back to Katrina, because we have so many current disasters, which really demonstrate how far we still have to go to close the gaps regarding regarding disabilities and disasters. But Katrina has really taught us some tough lessons, you know, not just as a country but or as a nation, but really the whole world watch, as 70% of everyone who perished had an access to functional need. But even today, for instance, if we look at our recovery, right now, efforts, and this is current data as of January 2023 70% of deaf people who were evacuated during a disaster reported living in unsanitary conditions a month after the disaster, as opposed to just 7% for individuals who are not death. And if you really kind of think about that number. That's, you know, I always like to take two statistics and make them personal 70% cement is a certainty. It's a certainty, pretty much that if you are right now, a Deaf American who experienced a disaster, that within a month, you're going to be living in unsanitary conditions. So that's a big number that we really have to look at and have to figure out, you know, what are we doing in our planning and our response? In our recovery? How accessible are some of these programs and systems and really kind of target in on why this is happening? Right? Because there's no doubt that, you know, the data shows that people with disabilities are at a higher risk during a disaster and face systemic barriers, which hamper you know, their ability to maintain their health. You know, for example, just like an accessible restroom at a shelter, or even, you know, getting the actual emergency alert in the primary form of communication for them, you know, an example, like we were talking about previously American Sign Language, you know, given the impacts some of the ways you know, and kind of given these impacts, some of the ways that the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, and, you know, the governor's council for Developmental Disabilities is kind of working to close those is Kimberly and I are really both raising. We want to talk just a little bit about our Nevadans because Kimberly and I are both raising Nevadans with significant disabilities. So when we're in our own disability community, we have identified that there's a lot of work we could be doing within the disability community to kind of own that individual preparedness piece. So we have the capability and those networks pre identified to support us. If, for example, we go three days or even a week without power, when we do disaster training, we really ask them to focus on that seamless framework, which highlights, you know, the resources, all Nevadans are going to need during a disaster and to really think about what does that mean for your specific circumstance. So if you don't mind, getting into it, just briefly, we know all Nevadans are going to need access to communication, right? To understand what is happening, and what do I need to do? Where do I need to go? And we all have, you know, that innate need, we all need to be able to communicate and disaster. So if we know that, then you have to start looking at well, how do the people in your community communicate? And then you know, helping them plan for that. And then specifically, you know, in your individual circumstance, thinking about what you need to communicate, and making sure you know, we're planning for that. You know, and we all know that we're going to need the ability to maintain our health. Right. When we're evacuating, whether we're evacuating from a wildfire, or whether were sheltering in place during a blizzard, you know, what does that look like? For you? Will you need extra medicine on hand to maintain your health? Will you need backup batteries or a generator to keep your Durable Medical Equipment powered? If you want to maintain your independence during a disaster? What does that look like for you, you know, a lot of people don't evacuate during a disaster because their house is accessible. And they don't want to to give up their independence. So if you have to flee your accessible house, what will you need? Will you need you know, your you have to advocate for yourself and your family to make sure that when you're being evacuated, right, you're evacuated with your wheelchair, your walker, your mobility equipment. So when you get to the shelter, you have that capability and the independence that you need, and that you're used to in your, you know, normal daily kind of everyday existence. You know, and then we need to make sure also in the disability community that we're planning, you know, on making sure that we're supported, safe and have that self determination piece. So do you have a plan to meet your support person or your primary care person? You know, have you worked to develop a network of not just one or two people to check on you in emergency, but a community of at least like six to eight? And then, of course, finally, we're all going to need access to transportation during a disaster. So what does that look like for you and your circumstances and your family? And, you know, that's kind of the overall picture right now, of the disability community and how we're trying to really make some of these numbers which are still very stark and big gaps, and how we really focus in on closing those

Jamie Roice-Gomes 20:01
Um, I did not realize that a lot of people do not evacuate because their home is accessible. And they would like to be somewhere that that is accessible. I mean, it's just, uh, you don't think about that. And it's, it definitely opens up my eyes. Heather, do you happen to have any examples?

Heather Lafferty 20:23
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, some of the most recent if we're talking more recent disasters, if we look at winter storm URI in Texas, right, we saw a significant portion of the people who did not evacuate. So right, they lose power, a majority of the people with disabilities who are dependent on power sources, actually had backups, they had generators, so they were prepared, what they were not prepared for was power to be out for a week. Right? They were prepared for, you know, two to three days. And we saw a lot of people with disabilities, and a lot of Texans with disabilities did not evacuate their homes, even when their family members did have power. So when their you know, siblings or friends or family members, were in an area of Texas that they could get to, and they did have power, they didn't evacuate their home, because those homes of their family members were not accessible. So you know, and they really thought that they could kind of ride the storm out. And that was incorrect. So, you know, we saw a lot of really, you know, kind of bad outcomes from that. And, but there's, you know, it's kind of one of those things where, when you're asking someone to evacuate their home, whether it's from a wildfire, or you know, like we saw in Texas, with a you know, a severe winter storm, you have to understand, in my home, I can I have the independence, I can use the restroom by myself, I don't need help getting dressed, I don't need help. Cooking my food I have my entire life and all of my independence is tied up in my house. And so when I get to the shelter, if you haven't made that environment accessible for me, if we're not adhering to the basic Ada, kind of, you know, guidance and laws, and we haven't really pregame this, then now I have to ask for permission as a grown adult to use the restroom. To get out of, you know, my cot into, I'm going to need help just getting out of my car into a wheelchair, I'm gonna need help feeding myself. So, you know, these are really some kind of things, I think, if this isn't your realm and your environment, if this isn't where your wheelhouse or what you're experienced in, you might just not even consider when you're making these plans, or you're doing these things. Can you help us a lot of times, when you hear especially about evacuations, you'll hear people and you'll just be like, why they you know, I can't believe they didn't evacuate, you know that they deserved it. They know what's come in like, you know, but sometimes one they didn't know it was coming because the other thing that happened in winter storm URI is when the power went out, all the screen readers died. So everyone who had a significant visual disability no longer was able to access their cell phones or screen readers. And that was their only form of communicate that was how they communicate. So you know, these are just some kind of things you have to you have to really plan with the disability community so that you know, you're really considering these things when you're when you're writing your guidance and your plans. Let's take a quick break.

Megan Kay 23:59
Wildfire is stressful, and wildfire. evacuations are stressful. That's why the living with Fire Program has created our wildfire evacuation checklist. It's a really simple checklist to help you learn how to pack a go back and prepare your home and your family, even your pets for wildfire evacuation. I've included the checklist in the links in the show notes below. So be sure to check that out. You can also find it on our website at living with

You mentioned the gap between where we're at and maybe where we need to be. So right now, like what's the state of emergency managers when they're responding to disasters and serving people with disabilities?

Heather Lafferty 24:47
You know, so right now there is a significant gap and part of that is funding and focus. Right. And the other part of that is, again, kind Have talking hearkening back to what my partner was talking about previously, you know, as Kimberly mentioned, you don't know what you don't know. And when you have, especially after COVID, a big gap in experience in emergency management, we have a ton of brand new emergency managers. And, you know, there's been a pretty significant turnover rate. And there's, emergency managers are generally understaffed, right. And, and it's kind of up to the local jurisdictions, how much resources and time and energy they they give that emergency manager. And so, with every new emergency manager, you know, I think some some of the things, when you look at these gaps people don't consider is turnover rate. Because you might have a jurisdiction that's, that's doing very well, with accessibility and disability and access and functional needs. But then, you know, there's a turnover and that position transitions, and now you have that educational piece that really has to come into play. So, you know, it's kind of a constant, just educating, training, outreach, that's kind of where we're at right now. So that until we can really get access and functional needs, and disability integration as just a foundation, starting point, a, you know, the point where we start when we play, and when we train when we exercise. So that's kind of the gap right now that we're seeing.

Kimberly Palma-Ortega 26:34
I mean, I think we're just, you know, aiming a little even higher, even if you take it just one step further outside of it, considering that Nevada has a really different landscape, that, you know, we're more of a frontier rural area than we are the, you know, the two known locations, you know, Reno and Las Vegas, it does make it very difficult, you know, some of the eams emergency managers, you know, they have a community of 1000. So, now you take it one step further, not in in their hands, now, you go to the community based services, how many are actually located in that area? Do they come? Or is it the office that's there every day? Is it a mobile services that are coming into play? How often do people need, you know, what is the engagement with, you know, legislators and or, you know, council members, or, you know, things like that. So there, there's even another layer to outside of just emergency managers, and bringing them together, hence on why I think, you know, with Heather's physician mind newly being put into play, it is really allowed us. And both of our bosses have really gave us the open door to attend all and any, you know, emergency management, conferences, trainings, events, so that we can start getting that conversation out whether or not they've got, you know, years of experience or newly put on place, that when they're going back to their small areas that we're starting to have that, you know, conversation. And so it's just a multi tiered approach that Heather and I are trying to do internally, with what we're doing statewide, locally, all the way down to, you know, individuals themselves.

Megan Kay 28:08
Yeah, it seems like a good point to pivot into like, what's being done to close the gap.

Heather Lafferty 28:14
So focusing here again, as my partner Kimberly just said, in the great state of Nevada, you know, first leadership just to kind of echo what she said at the Division of Emergency Management and the DD Council identified and recognized the gap. And they went found grassroots scholars like me and Kimberly, right with lived experience and empowered us, each of us within our own organizations to kind of begin the real work of building a program that helps Nevadans with disability can you know, that helps kind of emergency managers plan with Nevada's disability community, not for it. And at the state level, you know, there is really a refreshingly deep and kind of important collaboration happening between the Division of Emergency Management in our public health partners, and the Division of Aging and Disability, and their leadership and the DD Council, to kind of all use our limited staff and our limited resources that we have to make big kind of significant strides in closing some of its gaps. And one of the primary ways we started to do this is we created the Nevada access and functional needs disaster Coalition, which is a cross sector cross division workgroup made up of government organizations, NGOs, private industry, and disability community partners, you know, and this group has already been activated during our last atmospheric river incident to help meet that nothing about us without us peace in our response efforts, really helping us communicate with the disability community during the disaster and amplify any more messaging that we're putting out to the community. So, you know, through collaboration, we're really starting to see an impact and get that feedback and buy in. And kind of one of the other big pieces we've been working on at the state level is collaborating with Colorado and California, and Washington States, and our great FEMA Region nine, Disability Integration Specialist. And Kimberly and I are building Nevada's first G 197 course, which will help teach emergency managers and health preparedness managers on how to integrate access and functional needs into their programs. And we should have the first course ready to deliver by the fall, Kimberly and I have only been going to have this now, these are brand new programs for about 10 months. But, you know, I did want to give a big shout out to Nevada's emergency managers, they have really embraced each of our new programs and are reaching out daily to discuss including people with disabilities in their drills, their exercises, in their plan with approaches in sheltering and evacuation. You know, disasters have only been increasing. And there's really this admin, this kind of atmosphere right now in Nevada of openness and understanding that we are better together.

Kimberly Palma-Ortega 31:28
But I will say that the coalition that Heather and I, you know, kind of kind of spearhead together, it's almost like 120 participants, and those individuals are led in on calls when incidents are taking place, they're weekly given updates as to what's been going on, on on any given subject in regards to that. So we're intentionally trying to create this familiarity, where it's not just what it needs, but it's when it's not needed.

Megan Kay 31:55
If I can just add something real quickly, just an observation, you know, on at the university level, you know, we've for a while we have been, we've had a mandate to make all of our content accessible. You know, at first, I think a lot of people were just like, Oh, it's just one more thing I have to do. But then when you actually sort of plan out what you're doing, whether it's like a publication, a fact sheet, a flyer, an event, whatever. And you're in you're integrating these ideas of making it accessible for all you actually end up with a better event. And you end with better content, in my opinion. So I think, that idea, it seems like that's playing out on the emergency manager level, right?

Heather Lafferty 32:37
No, you're absolutely right. The challenge is, right. You can't have accessibility has an add on. It has to be in the design phase, you have to design your program and your system, with accessibility in mind. And then everything just works. Because when I plan, right for my shelter, to have large maps, and the gravel parking lot so that wheelchair users can access and navigate that parking lot. I'm also making it easier for mothers with strollers and you know, anyone with a walker, it's you just kind of solve a whole host of problems. When you focus on this one thing when it's when you design it that way.

Kimberly Palma-Ortega 33:24
And I can I can take it one step further. For example, I work with a lady and an individual that her heard both of her children are mobility bound to chairs. So she had fought really hard in one of our smaller cities to get an accessibility button put on a door, lot of Fi a lot of pushback, we don't need that that's only suiting one need. And she brought it to someone's attention, that when you have your hands full, those push bar doors are really nice. And How much easier would it be if you're able to just tap your elbow walk right in without dropping things? We use scenarios if you're a teacher with a ton of items when you grab groceries. You know, if you are using a walker or cane and you've in you know you're of age, no, we're just trying to put a face to the reality of when it when someone uses accessibility. It means for everyone, it just makes life easier overall. And at some point, if that button wasn't there, and you age 2010 10 or 20 years from now, how much nicer would have been if that was already implemented now when you didn't need it, so that it was there when you did. So another conversational piece that we talked about a lot too is that if we look at Nevada roadways, we have a lot of accidents. We have a lot of impairment driving, you're seconds away from becoming and welcoming yourself into the disability community at any level, a trip and a fall down the stairs. You know you're talking vision possible impairments, you know TBI. epilepsy can be created by traumatic brain injury. So at any given time, you're you might find yourself into this community. And how nice would it have been if people would have taken a proactive measure? And just the consideration as we just said, instead of making an ad on it Ready to build on.

Megan Kay 35:01
Let's take a quick break. Hi there, we hope you're enjoying our conversation with Heather and Kimberly. Before we finish off this episode and dive into our final segment, I wanted to take a minute to highlight some of the resources that Kimberly and Heather have been working on. Kimberly mentioned that the governor's council for Developmental Disabilities produced a medical health binder for the

Kimberly Palma-Ortega 35:27
DD Councils measures, we put together a medical health binder. And that kind of stemmed from some of the staffs living situations where it was really important to have a place to keep records, whether that's medical, legal, educational, at any given time, we're not too sure what we run into as life, you know, explains to us most often, so we created it with a zipper. It's got a strap, so you have vision impairment, you're not losing your papers. If you're using a chair, it can be easily hung on the back. We made it large blue, you can write your name on it. We also have other features inside of it, you can build into it. It's got a flash drive, if you want to make things digital,

Megan Kay 36:07
Heather and Kimberly also brought up this awesome AFN flipbook pop quiz, what does AFM stand for

Heather Lafferty 36:15
AFN stands for access and functional needs. And in the flipbook, it kind of is an all inclusive Survival Guide for the first responder, firefighter, police officer, EMT and emergency manager on really a whole host of topics that have to do with disabilities in emergencies and disasters. One of the big ones is that we really try and Kimberly and I really try and reinforce constantly is, you know, for sending in the National Guard or whoever is going to be doing those evacuations in a wildfire, whatever event we're in, we really need them when they're doing the door to door to make sure they're evacuating people with their assistive devices, they've got to get it to the shelter, with their wheelchair, their Walker, their cane there, anything they need, they're durable medical equipment, you know, these type of things, so that they can maintain their health and their independence,

Megan Kay 37:14
we're going to include links to those resources below. So check those out. And enjoy the rest of the show.

Maybe we can close out by just first of all go Nevada and emergence Nevada emergency managers for you know, institutionalizing access to functional needs. And so kudos to Nevada, whenever I get the opportunity. I'd like to say that yeah, absolutely. But also, yeah, do you have any just from your research, or maybe anything you've personally experienced, it could be big or small success story, or, yeah, an example of something going right or a lesson being learned and some someone implementing some knowledge to make the world better. For people with disabilities,

Heather Lafferty 38:05
there are all types of emergency managers and all different levels in Clark County, and at the state level, planning for the Super Bowl. And for when f1 comes in when Formula One gets here, and they're racing down Las Vegas Boulevard, you know, that's an international type of event. And all of these events require significant, you know, planning and training. And one of the things that's been really kind of humbling, but also appreciated is, you know, they've reached out to have us included at the table to make sure we're part of the committees that are planning and working on, you know, preparing for these events. And I think that's just kind of from a state level perspective, that's just been really rewarding is to see Nevada's emergency managers just really take this and run with

Kimberly Palma-Ortega 38:59
it. Success is kind of a hard one, because it depends on the perspective that somebody's looking from. So whether or not you know, somebody grants life as being saved, as you know, the primary goal and that success, or, you know, maybe secondary is, you know, making sure that protection of people's personal property and homes are intact, you know, but the other part of it is to is the true true engagement that we get with those that we're working with the fact that you reached out the fact that you've got other community partners and providers that are on those calls that we consistently have and are showing up, we finally have a platform where we're being heard, we're being seen, the community is being asked to come to the table and just kind of give you the overall reason why I'm kind of mentioning some of these things is that there's a board member that I sit on with it within the community down here in the south, but she's up north. Okay, so two different living experiences, but we're together as a board member. She had made a comment that during the last incident up north she was actually trapped in her house for three or four days, her and her husband both have, you know, some mobility issues and disabilities, that kind of required them to kind of have fuckery in the house, because unfortunately, they weren't able to open up their garage door. So to know that I personally knew someone that didn't even know to even reach out to me for I do for work. In fact, I didn't even know she was in that situation. But she was bold enough to bring it up during a meeting. And we were able to navigate a call with Heather and we were able to start kind of thinking about how do we get in contact with, you know, garage door open, excuse me, businesses, on other alternatives, opening up doors without power? Are there state or federal initiatives for people that have solar but maybe couldn't afford the power pack on the side, because if she had that ability to have the power pack on her garage door, or the solar, she would have been fine, she would have done really well in some of the sheltering, in places that were already put together, the warming shelters, excuse me, but she was unable to access them because she couldn't get the garage door open. So that was something that really kind of hit home. And every time we're doing something, we are now even expanding conversation on even further. So is it just transportation? Well, how do you get out of your garage? As simple as that? So um, that is one of my huge success stories right there.

Heather Lafferty 41:19
And Megan, I, I wanted to say real quick, it's very important, you know, to kind of consider your messaging when we're doing evacuations. And we're asking people to go to shelters. Because a lot of times what will happen is people with disabilities who have an accessibility need will see that statement that's put out saying, go here, and it doesn't say that the shelters accessible. It doesn't say that you can bring your pets or that shelter, or that your service animal is welcome. And so they won't go you know, because they don't know that their Ada, you know, the ADA is never waivable even in a disaster. So, you know, just make, you know, making sure that our messaging is inclusive to as we enter wildfire season, and we're really you know, getting that message out there because if you have an accessible shelter, we should really advertise that. We should really let you know we should really let people know that it's safe. Come here. We have power and food and snacks.

Megan Kay 42:27
Thank you for listening to the Living With Fire Podcast. You can find more stories and resources about wildfire at our website living with The Living With Fire Program is funded by the Bureau of Land Management, the Nevada Division of Forestry in the US Forest Service, and we're managed by the University of Nevada, Reno extension and Equal Opportunity Institution.

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