Emergency Preparedness is the capability of the public health and health care infrastructure, communities, families, and individuals, to prevent, respond to, and recover from emergencies in a coordinated and continuous manner.
First Responders are law enforcement, fire, and medical emergency personnel that interact, support, treat, and meet the needs of children, youth and adults with autism.
Quality Indicators / Problems / Data Drivers
QI 10.1: Needs of children, youth, and adults with autism are considered in state and local emergency preparedness plans.
Problem: State disaster response plans that address the needs of children, youth, and adults with disabilities are difficult to locate. In Georgia, local resources exist, but are sparse and incomplete. Additionally, there is no requirement for the coordination of local registries for accommodating the needs of children, youth, and adults with autism in crises.
Data Drivers: The 2006 Nationwide Plan Review Phase 2 Report, prepared and released following Hurricane Katrina, revealed that few statewide emergency response plans demonstrate the planning required to meet the needs of children, youth, and adults with disabilities before, during, and after emergencies.35 Furthermore, the state of Georgia lacks a Disability Accommodation Registry, which can assist law enforcement officers in working effectively with children, youth, and adults with disabilities and other health considerations.36
QI 10.2: Children, youth, and adults with autism are informed and prepared to handle emergencies. For example, families have the knowledge and resources to plan and practice emergency plans.
Problem: Few families have plans for what to do in a disaster or emergency. Vulnerable populations, including children, youth, and adults with disabilities, are even less prepared than the general population.
Data Drivers: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey data analysis from 2006-2010 of 14 states including Georgia concluded that only one in five families has a written evacuation plan.37 Additionally, research suggests that for families of children with special healthcare needs, this drops to one eight.38
QI 10.3: First responders, such as police officers and emergency medical personnel, are equipped to support children, youth, and adults with autism in times of crisis.
Problem: First responders, law enforcement agents, and school safety officers are often unaware of the special considerations needed to protect and serve children, youth, and adults with autism. Additionally, they lack the necessary training for safe and successful interactions with children, youth, and adults with autism, particularly in emergency situations.
Data Drivers: An existing body of research suggests that law enforcement offers lack training to effectively protect and serve individuals with autism.39 Emergency personnel may benefit from this training, as children, youth, and adults with autism are seven times more likely to come in contact with law enforcement than their typical peers.40, 41