In an effort to save lives, the Center for

Disability Issues and the Health Professions (CDIHP) at Western

University of Health Sciences has developed an emergency evacuation

preparedness guide for people with disabilities and others whose activity

limitations may affect their ability to safely evacuate buildings during

disasters.

“”If we just rely on employers, building managers, or fire inspectors to

make sure things are in place, it may or may not happen,”” said June

Isaacson Kailes, MSW, LCSW, the guide’s author and CDIHP associate

director, who is known internationally for her disability-related work in

access, health and wellness, aging and disaster preparedness. “”People

with disabilities must take an assertive, proactive approach to ensure

that our life safety needs are included in all emergency planning.

“”No matter what laws and public policies say, it’s up to us as people with

disabilities to individually and collectively do what we need to do to

prepare for disasters,”” Kailes said.

The 36-page guide is a one-stop resource for people with disabilities and

others to make informed decisions that may affect their lives. The guide

stresses the need for readers to include safety planning in their lives by

getting involved in the evacuation planning process and regularly

practicing the procedures.

“”Particularly in this post-9/11 world, people with disabilities must take

responsibility for their own safety,”” said Brenda Premo, MBA, CDHIP

director. “”There is a universal human tendency to avoid thinking about

possible emergencies. This avoidance has greater consequences for people

with disabilities than for people without disabilities.””

According to 2000 Census information, more than 54 million people in the

United States have some form of disability, with those with a significant

disability estimated at more than 27 million. In addition, 50 percent of

the population over the age of 65 has some form of disability. People

with asthma, broken bones, heart conditions, joint pain, reduced vision

when contacts and glasses are not available, as well as women in later-

stage pregnancy and other activity limiting conditions also will find the

booklet useful.

In 2002, the CDIHP received a $10,000 grant from the Bank of America

Foundation to print an initial 2,500 copies of the guide for distribution

in California. The center was recently awarded a $10,000 Quality of Life

Grant from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF), which will

help to fund distribution of thousands of emergency evacuation

preparedness guides to people with spinal cord injuries nationwide. In

addition to printing more hard copies for national distribution, plans

call for the guide to be available as a CD-ROM.

An electronic version of the guide is available at no cost at http://www.cdihp.org. To obtain a hard copy,

send a check for $24.00 payable to: Center for Disability Issues and the

Health Professions and Western University of Health Sciences 309 E. 2nd

St., Pomona, California. The price includes shipping, handling and

applicable tax.

About the Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions and

Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences established the CDIHP in 1998 in

response to the concerns of the disability community, which is one of the

nation’s fastest growing and least understood minority groups. The CDIHP

has an ongoing commitment to the development of curricula and training

modules that assist health care professionals in understanding the issues

facing people with disabilities and learning how to provide quality care.

Located in Pomona, California, Western University of Health Sciences is an

independent, accredited, non-profit university, granting post-

baccalaureate professional degrees in health sciences disciplines.