Pat Going leading the training class for The Red Cross Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities. At what kind of training would you look around the room and see county officials, disability training consultants, service dogs, Red Cross district officials, and people with disabilities? You would be at a special training—the first of its kind in Colorado actually—an emergency preparedness training for Colorado Red Cross chapters emphasizing accessibility for persons with disability. This groundbreaking training was put on by The Independence Center, the hub of the disability community in the Pikes Peak region.

The Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires brought to the forefront the need for an understanding of accessibility for persons with disabilities. The Pikes Peak region began to understand that when persons with disabilities are evacuated from danger zones, significant accessibility and etiquette issues arise.

The Independence Center has risen to the occasion to educate local officials and Red Cross staff with help from two grants, one from Disability-Benefit Support Contract Committee (DBSCC) and one from The Daniels Fund. The two grants worked synergistically; the DBSCC grant funded the production of a training video and The Daniels Fund grant paid for the creation of Emergency Preparedness Disability Kits to be given to all the Colorado Red Cross chapters.

The first screening of the new video was held during the training for the Southeastern Colorado Red Cross on September 9, 2015. Trainings for the other Red Cross chapters will follow. At the September 9th training, local Red Cross staff were presented with the first Emergency Preparedness Disability Kit, a kit valued at $1,200 worth of accessibility items that may be needed at shelters holding evacuees.

Persons with disabilities who are concerned about their own personal level of preparedness for an emergency can download a “Personal Emergency Preparedness Workbook” from The Independence Center free of charge here.