Planning for People with Medical Dependencies

Sources: EMR-ISAC, Homeland Security Affairs

A recent article in Homeland Security Affairs addresses the gap in preparedness for people with medical dependencies and the need for a re-evaluation of plans for these at-risk populations. Census data suggest roughly 12 percent of the population falls into this category, but the number triples when those over age 65 are added.

Federal regulations require equal level of access to programs and services for everyone. This includes situations where locating, transporting, sheltering, and making care accessible may be difficult or impossible without prior preparation.

The article defines the term “medical dependencies” and discusses how emergency planners can underestimate the needs of these populations, leading to a shortage of supplies and medications during a disaster. One example is the electrical needs or short battery life of portable medical equipment (e.g., insulin pumps) coupled with inadequate supplies or generator capabilities in shelters.

The authors discuss the pros and cons of various information collection methods for at-risk population size, location, and needs including surveys, registries, working with medical and social services organizations, and even door-to-door canvassing.