National Preparedness Month Spotlight: Vulnerable Populations

As local health departments (LHDs) take part in National Preparedness Month activities with their communities, it’s important to include people who require additional assistance in the event of a natural disaster or emergency in those conversations. In support of LHD efforts to address the needs of their entire communities, NACCHO and its partners have developed a number of tools that assist LHDs in raising their abilities to address the diverse needs of vulnerable populations.

Sheltering Unaccompanied Minors
During disasters, minors (children and adolescents under 18 years of age) can easily become separated from their parents or guardians. Comprising nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, LHDs and their partners will likely have to account for unaccompanied minors after a public health emergency. To assist LHDs prepare for this scenario, NACCHO published an issue brief entitled Planning for Unaccompanied Minors in Shelter Operations. Download the document to learn about the potential impacts of disasters on minors, legal considerations to take into account when developing management plans for unaccompanied minors, and planning in advance of an emergency.

Addressing the Preparedness Needs of Older Adults
Nearly 89 million Americans will be over 65-years-old by 2050, more than double the same population’s numbers in 2010. To address the preparedness needs of this quickly growing population, NACCHO developed the Directory of Organizations Serving Older Adults, which helps public health professionals quickly identify organizations in their communities that focus on the health needs of older adults. LHDs can use this tool to identify potential partners focused on programmatic areas such as: home health, adult day services, hospice care, meal services, and more.

Planning for the Electricity-dependent
Millions of individuals throughout the country, including 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries, rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, dialysis machines, oxygen tank services, and more. While these life-saving technologies help individuals live independently in their homes, an event resulting in the loss of electricity can have a calamitous impact on their health. In response to this issue, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) developed the HHS emPOWER Map to provide critical information for public health agencies and their partners. NACCHO also developed an HHS emPOWER Fact Sheet to provide LHDs with real-world examples of how public health agencies have used ASPR’s tools and resources to address the needs of electricity-dependent populations.

Additional Resources
LHDs may access a number of preparedness resources addressing the needs of vulnerable populations through a variety of NACCHO’s resources.

  • Model Practices Program recognizes outstanding local public health practices. Individuals may use the Model Practices Database to identify outstanding practices in the area of vulnerable population preparedness.
  • NACCHO’s Toolbox is a free, online collection of local public health tools produced by members of the public health community. Use search terms “vulnerable” and “preparedness” to find tools such as preparedness checklists for nursing homes, pediatric/neonatal medical surge planning, and more.
  • Health and Disability program provides LHDs with the tools and resources to include people with disabilities in all local health department activities, including preparedness.

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