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FEMA, Rockland Group Discuss The Disabled's Role In Emergency Planning

Representatives of the Rockland Independent Living Center rally in 2012 in the U.S. Capital for the rights of the disabled.  A meeting was recently held in Pomona to discuss increasing the role of the disabled in emergency planning.
Representatives of the Rockland Independent Living Center rally in 2012 in the U.S. Capital for the rights of the disabled. A meeting was recently held in Pomona to discuss increasing the role of the disabled in emergency planning. Photo Credit: rilc.org/facebook

POMONA, N.Y. --  Representatives of the Rockland Independent Living Center recently met in Pomona with federal officials to discuss how disabled residents can better participate in the emergency management process.

Officials from the New City center and Rockland fire and emergency services were briefed by James Flemming, a disability integration specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

About 40 members of the public and county officials also attended the meeting at the Rockland County Fire & Emergency Services Station.

Flemming has published more than 100 articles on ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access and has served for more than 17 years as a contractor in developing ADA compliance, emergency evacuation and other programs for a wide variety of transit authorities around the country.

Flemming defined inclusive emergency management as “a ‘contact,’ not a ‘spectator’ sport where people with disabilities are personally and interactively involved with everyone else in the making of emergency management decisions that affect them.”

One way to include more disabled residents in emergency planning is through the formation of advisory groups, Flemming said.

They, and local officials, first responders, and social and human services agencies can all partner through these core groups, he explained.

Not only can the disabled lend a key perspective to planning, they can help guarantee that their interests and needs are met in an actual emergency like Hurricane Irene or Superstorm Sandy, Flemming said.

More information about the center, call Donna Ehrenberg, director of independent living services, at (845) 624-1366, ext. 113, or email her at dehrenberg@rilc.org..

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