Following Winter Storm Alfred and Hurricane Sandy, New Britain Emergency Medical Service, Inc. (NBEMSI) Support Services Division received a grant from the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities (CCDD) to bolster emergency preparedness capabilities for at-risk groups and individuals. Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel found that the very young, elderly and those with developmental, physical and mental disabilities, among others, where disproportionately effected by the severe storms. The grant’s ultimate goal is to conduct emergency training, recruit volunteers, and create an advisory committee to network community partners. Participation of two other communities, Canton being one of them, was required in an effort to fulfill the grant requirements.
The grant program has gotten off to a quick start, with the advisory committee holding meetings since February of this year at the Canton Community Center. Patrick Turek of NBEMSI, coordinated all meetings and has had oversight over the entire project. Claire Cote, the town’s Senior & Social Services Director explains “We had an outstanding turnout for our first meeting – some of the partners included the Town’s Director of Emergency Preparedness, Health, and Senior & Social Services Departments. We even had community partners present including, Cherry Brook Healthcare Center, FOCUS Center on Autism, and FAVARH”. There were also several constituent partners who live with disabilities or who care for people with disabilities. All of the organizations that attended the first meeting shared the same sentiment; everyone has a role in supporting vulnerable populations during times of distress and it’s also our job to assist folks with functional or access needs in preparing themselves”. Cote explains: “Each participating agency and person supplies a piece to the overall puzzle to complete our goals.”
One important part of the grant includes emergency preparedness training for at-risk populations. This Special Needs Steering Committee has developed training for folks who are most at-risk. The curriculum will include what one should do before, during, and after an emergency. For example the training will outline what types of supplies (water, food, medications, etc.) or support networks one should have. The training will even help those who attend to develop emergency go-kits.
NBEMSI hopes the emergency preparedness pilot funded through the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities gains traction statewide. Ultimately the program partners hope to develop a program that other communities can use to enhance their emergency preparedness capabilities for at- risk populations. Turek states, “Now is the time to act – our entire community deserves to be prepared for the worst case scenario.”
A Training and Workshop has been set up for Tuesday September 17th at the Canton Community Center. This training will be held from 1:00-2:30PM in the Lower Level of the Center and is for people who have functional or access needs. People who attend the training will be provided a brief overview of what and how to plan for emergency situations, and the workshop portion will consist of the putting together of a “Go Bag”. Attendees are encouraged to bring a loved one or caregiver if they would like, and to bring along a list of medications, emergency contacts, etc., which will help complete their “Go Bag”. This training and workshop is open only to Canton residents and seats/bags are limited. Participation by anyone is at the discretion of Director of Senior and Social Services Claire Cote and Emergency Management Specialist, Patrick Turek. Please call 860.693.5811 to sign up or inquire.