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Special Needs Emergency Planning Information

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People with functional and access needs can benefit from emergency preparedness activities.  Recent disasters such as the 9/11 World Trade Center attack and Hurricane Katrina both herald success stories about the ability of people with functional and access needs to respond effectively in an emergency.  Emergency planning, preparing, and practicing of established emergency plans were in many instances key factors in overcoming extreme, hazardous conditions.  Unfortunately, both disasters also highlight the dire consequences resulting from a lack of preparedness. 

In an effort to protect the health and safety of people with functional and access needs in our area, FWBCHD provides emergency preparedness resources for review and use on an individual basis.  In addition to individual preparedness resources, summary information about bi-county level planning and activities for vulnerable populations are also featured below. 

Individual Preparedness for People with Functional and Access Needs

 Click here or on the "Individual and Home Preparedness" tab to the right and connect to preparedness information for people with functional and access needs.  Once in the "Individual and Home Preparedness" section, scroll to end of the page to view preparedness resources, specifically for people with functional and access needs.

Bi-County Special Needs Planning

Emergency response agencies, direct service agencies, advocacy groups, and other interested organizations and individuals within our jurisdiction meet to address and plan for local vulnerable population issues.  The Franklin-Williamson Special Needs Advisory Panel (FW-SNAP) was officially formed in 2007 to address vulnerable population planning and preparedness among various organizations and at the county-level as well.  The group is facilitated by FWBCHD's Director of Emergency Preparedness.  A mission statement, working definition of functional and access needs, and examples of action taken by the group are outline below.  If you are interested in joining or would like additional information about the FW-SNAP (past meeting minutes can be provided upon request), please direct inquiries to the following email address:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

FW-SNAP Mission: The Franklin-Williamson Special Needs Advisory Panel (FW-SNAP) will identify issues that will likely affect either vulnerable populations as they prepare and respond to an emergency or local emergency management personnel as they attempt to assist persons with functional/access needs during adverse conditions.  FW-SNAP will meet as a whole committee with established subcommittees, facilitated by Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department, but under the authority of the Directors of the Franklin and Williamson County Emergency Management Agencies (EMA).

FW-SNAP Definition of Special Needs:  Groups whose needs are not fully addressed by traditional service providers or who feel they cannot comfortably or safely access and use the standard resources offered before, during, and possibly after a disaster or emergency.  They include, but are not limited to:

  • people with physical or mental disabilities (blind, deaf, hard-of-hearing, cognitive disorders, mobility limitations)
  • limited or non-English speaking
  • geographically or culturally isolated
  • medically or chemically dependent
  •  homeless
  • frail/eldlerly
  • children

As part of the planning process for each respective County's Emergency Operation Plan (EOP), FW-SNAP will incorporate the following function-based issues:  medical needs, communication needs, supervision needs, maintaining functional independence needs, transportation needs, other needs as determined.

Special Needs Resource Database (2008):  In an effort to be prepared to respond to special needs issues arising from emergency events, the FW-SNAP identified potential special needs resources within our area.  As a result, a resource database was created using data collected from SNAP agencies.  The special needs resource database contains the following categories:

  • number and types of staff, e.g., medical professionals, clerical, mental health professionals, etc.
  • major agency functions
  • modes of communication
  • types of transportation vehicles
  • specialized equipment, e.g., wheelchairs, portable beds, hoyer lifts, generators, etc.
  • availability of staff to work and be self-sufficient as a county resource during a disaster

Prioritizing Special Needs Issues (2008 - 2009):  FW-SNAP has identified priority areas in which to focus their efforts:

  • Transportation, e.g., vehicle accessibility and assessment
  • Communication, e.g., messaging issues for special needs groups/those living independently, including Spanish, sign language, etc.; ensuring redundancy of communication systems for special needs agencies within our communities 
  • Training:  for staff, volunteers, and emergency responders, including evacuation/transportation
  • Resources: securing emergency staffing/volunteers, other
  • Special needs shelters/sheltering-in-place: developing plans for organizations and at the county-level 
  • Special needs response coordinator:  identify a primary, secondary, and tertiary special needs representative and develop protocol for the position as it functions in Franklin and Williamson emergency operations centers 
  • Special needs evacuation plan development for organizations and Franklin/Williamson counties
  • Continue to identify various special needs populations and include them in the planning process


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