Disability inclusive emergency preparedness on the Coffs Coast

Terrie Anne Richardson is an Auslan interpreter.

OVER 100 attended an event in Coffs Harbour for people with disability, their family and carers to meet local emergency services, talk about the upcoming fire and storm season and learn about personal emergency planning.

There were short presentations from the State Emergency Service (SES), NSW Ambulance and Fire and Rescue NSW Coffs Harbour Fire Station, with support from the NSW Reconstruction Authority, Key Employment Group, HooRai Balloons, Sprinkle and Play, the Mid-North Coast Community Legal Centre and Disability Advocacy NSW.

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Attendees received a ‘grab and go’ bag with information on how to prepare themselves and their homes for an evacuation.

There was also a simulated person centred emergency preparedness (P-CEP) conversation with Mr Luke Page, a client at Key Employment, discussing what an emergency evacuation may entail for him.

When it comes to preparing for events like storms, fires and floods, people with disabilities can often have additional needs that are crucial to consider, but can often be overlooked by emergency services and recovery agencies.
Everyone needs to feel safe and that is particularly challenging if you are hearing impaired, can’t use the mobile phone or can’t read very well.

“The access is focused on mobile phones for data and the capacity to read,” Auslan interpreter Terri Anne Richardson, a key connector in the Coffs deaf community, told News Of The Area.

“The information is not compatible with an Ipad, and I spoke to a deaf and blind man who relies on that solely.”

Terri Anne discussed with emergency services the need to set up a QR Code, which once scanned, an interpreter could bring up on their device to explain details of the emergency.

Terri Anne will now take booklets to individual homes to discuss people’s own personal plans.

“I heard of one man in the Lismore district, who had to relocate to Coffs because he was not safe, having lost his home and not having any access nor support,” said Terri Anne.


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