Making Priorities: Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies

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At MACo’s Winter Conference, Delegate Ben Kramer announced his plans to propose legislation this session involving electric utilities prioritizing nursing homes and assisted living facilities in a power outage.

Delegate Kramer was moderating a panel at the conference focused on how local human service, health, and aging agencies coordinate emergency response for citizens in need during emergencies.  Panelists included representatives from the Maryland Department of Human Resources, and local community services and health departments participated in the discussion.

Pamela Spring, Director of Emergency Operations at the Maryland Department of Human Resources discussed the need to incorporate vulnerable populations into all emergency planning efforts, and pointed out the establishment of cross-agency “ESF 6” sheltering planning committees in local jurisdiction as a resource in planning.

Catherine Willis, LGSW, Director, Dept. of Community Services, Queen Anne’s County described the challenges of determining and recording members of the community who are vulnerable, and recounted an incident where Queen Anne’s County firemen needed to rescue residents from a flooded home into a rescue boat.

Terry Sapp, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Baltimore County commented on the need for continuity between emergency services and daily services provided to vulnerable populations.  Terry shared how for many victims of the derecho’s power outage, every day is a crisis for one reason or another.

Dale Jackson, Deputy Director, Howard County Citizens Services provided an overview of the way that emergency planning is centralized under Citizens Services in Howard County, which leads sheltering, volunteer and donations management.  Dale emphasized the need for emergency planning, and the importance of directing funding into this area.

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