Emergency Preparedness:

Imagine being in a life threatening in an emergency and not being able to help yourself. Few things in life are more terrifying. Yet that very thing happened to me, while I was in College. It was six AM I was a sleep in my one person dorm room when I heard The Following: “There’s an emergency in the building. Walk, don’t run to the nearest exit, use the stairs, do not use the elevators.”

I transitioned from full sleep to full wakefulness in a matter of two seconds. My first coherent thought was “Aw Crap!”

I was in bed about a dozen feet from the door. For most people this wouldn’t be much of a problem, but I live with cerebral palsy, I can’t walk and use a wheelchair, to move around. At this particular moment. The chair was hooked to a charger next to the door. It may have been a as well have been a journey of a thousand miles. I screamed, and screamed. HELP ME! SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME! The alarm was so loud that nobody could hear me over the thunder of the running feet of my panicked dorm mates. They told me they would get me, I thought. Why aren’t they coming to get me? I tried calling for help with the phone next to my bed, but the overpowering noise of the alarm made it impossible for me to even hear a dial tone. I was in serious trouble, and there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it, except exhaust myself screaming and fall asleep wondering if I was going to die.

I woke up. It was over, and I was okay. As with most things, this unfortunate situation could have been avoided with proper planning or forethought Here are things to remember so you are prepared for unexpected situations

  1. Practice drills. Schedule drills regularly and make sure people with disabilities participate! I just took for granted that my dorm mates would remember me. This was not the case because I opted out of the preparedness drills in an effort to make things easier. This was a big mistake
  2. First responders will prioritize actions that do the most good for the greatest number of people. Even so, they might not be able to get to you right away. Have supplies for at least three days on hand. Be prepared to shelter in place.
  3. Be prepared to take care of mobility aids and service animals. Have extra medication handy.

Planning is paramount. Here are links to help you get started.

By Erik Alliance Volunteer