CAN-ASC-5.1 Standard on Emergency Measures: Public Review Draft - 5. Pre-planning – General considerations for persons with disabilities and vulnerable persons

5.1 General

The general aspects to be addressed when considering vulnerable persons in an emergency are:

  1. identifying types of vulnerabilities (5.2);
  2. identifying vulnerable persons (5.3);
  3. identifying how vulnerable persons could assist others (5.4); and
  4. establishing information sharing arrangements (5.5).

Note: For the purposes of this Standard, the term “vulnerable persons” has been used to include persons with disabilities and other persons who may be at greater risk during an emergency. As part of achieving the principle of leaving no one behind, it is important to identify and measure the factors that marginalize people and push them behind. Structural marginalization puts people at disproportionate health, social, and economic risks during an emergency. While the term vulnerable persons is widely used in emergency management, the concept of persons marginalized by structures or systems is increasingly being used by researchers and practitioners and would apply to the guidance in this Standard.

5.2 Identifying vulnerable persons

The organization should:

  1. analyze how the impacts of an emergency might cause individuals to be vulnerable;
  2. develop and implement a process to identify the number of vulnerable persons and places where they might be (e.g., schools, workplaces, health care facilities, long term care facilities and other congregate housing, naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCS), supportive housing for homeless, etc.); this process should acknowledge the changing nature of vulnerabilities and emergencies and be regularly updated, especially when major changes occur in the demographic;
  3. identify and prioritize vulnerable persons using databases from service providers (see Annex A);
  4. provide a system that allows vulnerable persons and their caregivers or care providers to voluntarily register before an emergency (See Annex A);
  5. identify contact points with vulnerable persons before an emergency as part of a communication strategy (See 8.4.4);
  6. assess the number of individuals who might be vulnerable to different emergencies;
  7. assess the number of vulnerable persons who might benefit from particular types of support;
  8. assess the number of vulnerable persons who have prepared for an emergency and the types of preparations they have made; and
  9. recognize that not all vulnerable persons will require assistance.

5.3 Identifying vulnerabilities

The organization should:

  1. identify the contributing factors that make some individuals vulnerable to an emergency (e.g., physical, mental, emotional, cognitive, cultural, ethnicity, religion, marginalized status, language, location, socioeconomic status, age, gender);
  2. determine the different kinds of vulnerabilities that exist and are relevant in an emergency;
  3. identify how these causes impact on the interaction between vulnerable persons and the emergency (e.g., the consequences of slower reaction times);
  4. determine the types of support that vulnerable persons might benefit from before, during and after an emergency;
  5. identify the reasons why some vulnerable persons prepare for an emergency and why others don’t prepare;
  6. find out the questions that vulnerable persons have that could aid their preparation, response, and recovery from an emergency;
  7. establish the challenges and opportunities that vulnerable persons face to aid their preparation for, response to, and recovery from an emergency;
  8. identify how vulnerable persons might react to an emergency (e.g., whether they will follow instructions from officials); and
  9. assess the impacts of different methods of communication on vulnerable persons.

The process of identifying vulnerable persons should:

  1. analyze information about individuals using population-level information to gain a broader understanding of vulnerable persons;
  2. include difficult-to-reach and marginalized groups that involve vulnerable persons, such as those whose interests are not well represented in decision-making structures;
  3. engage persons with lived experience and their caregivers/care providers or representatives, community groups, local authorities, and other organizations in the planning for an emergency;
  4. recognize that the vulnerability of individuals can change over time and that vulnerable persons might overestimate their own capabilities and so might not have an accurate estimate of their ability to respond;
  5. recognize that caregivers and care providers might support vulnerable persons and need assistance to do this during an emergency;
  6. learn from past emergencies and where vulnerable persons were located; and
  7. recognize the differences between vulnerable persons who live in remote, rural, urban, transient populations, and Indigenous communities.

5.4 Identifying how vulnerable persons can assist others

The organization should:

  1. determine how vulnerable persons can assist other people who are affected by the emergency;
  2. identify opportunities for vulnerable persons who want to provide assistance to others; and
  3. support vulnerable persons as they provide assistance to ensure their own stresses are recognized.

Note: For further guidance on planning the involvement of spontaneous volunteers in incident response and recovery, see ISO 22319

5.5 Providing support for vulnerable persons in an emergency

Practical actions to support vulnerable persons and their caregivers or care providers either before, during or after an emergency include:

  1. providing practical support to vulnerable persons (5.5.1);
  2. providing physiological support to vulnerable persons (5.5.2);
  3. providing psychosocial support to vulnerable persons (5.5.3);
  4. offering practical support to travel away from the affected area (5.5.4); and
  5. determining sheltering needs for vulnerable persons (5.5.5).

5.5.1 Providing practical support to vulnerable persons

The organization should use the findings of their research (see 5.2 and 5.3) to identify the practical support needs of vulnerable persons and their caregivers or care providers before, during and after an emergency, to:

  1. identify the longer time frame needed when vulnerable persons are involved;
  2. identify the additional needs of vulnerable persons on resettling;
  3. consider the mechanism through which to deliver practical support, for example;
    1. establish relationships with public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, and local charities;
    2. facilitate community-based networks to support vulnerable persons (e.g., phone chains or social media groups to disseminate the warning message);
    3. facilitate clubs and societies that have interest in emergencies (e.g., Neighbourhood Watch); and
    4. pair a volunteer (e.g., carer) with a vulnerable person who would benefit from support;
  4. identify strategies or additional resources to involve difficult-to-reach or marginalized groups; and
  5. assess the availability of resources to vulnerable persons (e.g., human, technical and financial resources).

5.5.2 Providing Physiological support to vulnerable persons

The organization should:

  1. identify the physiological needs that vulnerable persons have before, during and after an emergency;
  2. provide shelter against environmental conditions to ensure survival; and
  3. provide physiological support to reduce the stress on vulnerable persons and their caregivers or care providers before, during and after an emergency, including;
    1. basic physical comfort suitable for persons with different needs (e.g., glasses, chairs and beds to sit and sleep in, and special cushions to prevent life-threatening pressure sores, noting that persons with physical disabilities might need more space and privacy);
    2. toilets and a need for a range of flexible toileting provisions as well as items such as commodes, incontinence pads, raised toilet seats and hoists;
    3. access to medications and health support for vulnerable persons (individuals or groups) with complex health needs;
    4. security of controlled medications;
    5. mobility aids (e.g., walking aids, wheelchairs);
    6. caregivers or care providers who are trained in supporting vulnerable persons (e.g., specialist lifting, toileting persons who are immobile);
    7. supplies for the management of medical conditions (e.g., anti-convulsive medications for epilepsy, eye drops, diabetes supplies, complex dietary needs such as avoiding foods with certain ingredients or colours);
    8. provision for service animals;
    9. technology support (e.g., access to computers, internet connections, provisions for hearing aids such as chargers and batteries, etc.); and
    10. accommodation support (e.g., returning to previous accommodation or moving into new housing).

5.5.3 Providing psychosocial support to vulnerable persons

The organization should:

  1. identify the psychosocial needs that vulnerable persons might have before, during and after an emergency;
  2. provide psychosocial support to reduce the stressors from the emergency on vulnerable persons and their carers, including;
    1. information on how to maintain their psychosocial well-being;
    2. comfort from someone to listen and to share concerns with;
    3. caregivers or care providers who are trained in supporting vulnerable persons (e.g., calming someone with a mental health condition);
    4. ways of contacting relatives or close friends to lower the stress on the vulnerable person;
    5. allowing access to personal items that persons need for comfort (e.g., mobile phone, computers and internet access, money, shoes, sentimental items, TV, keys);
    6. provision for animals to reduce anxiety about pets, and
    7. considering ways to not exacerbate the stress experienced by vulnerable persons (e.g., the need for animal-free shelters and providing quiet spaces), and
  3. provide ongoing support for vulnerable persons when they move into new or previous accommodation.

5.5.4 Offering support to travel away from an affected area

The organization should:

  1. identify how vulnerable persons usually travel around their area when there is no emergency;
  2. assess whether those means of travel will be available during different types of emergencies;
  3. consider what alternatives might be available during an emergency (e.g., taxi companies might not be operational if the taxi drivers are attending to their own families);
  4. determine the number of vulnerable persons who will need evacuation transportation;
  5. provide information on publicly available transportation during an emergency, including;
    1. easily accessible central meeting points to board evacuation transportation;
    2. how persons with physical limitations can get to a central meeting point;
    3. how persons with physical limitations will be assisted (e.g., to ascend the high steps onto a vehicle); and
    4. where the transportation will take them to, especially if they have options that will take them closer to friends/relatives that they could eventually go to stay with; and
  6. give information on what to do with domestic pets and other animals before, during and after an emergency (e.g., how these should be transported or protected).

5.5.5 Determining emergency sheltering needs for vulnerable persons

The organization should:

  1. consider the willingness of vulnerable persons to move to an emergency shelter;
  2. identify the expectations and needs of vulnerable persons who intend to use emergency shelters;
  3. provide sufficient shelter places for vulnerable persons and their caregivers or care providers;
  4. develop a plan to provide appropriate levels of support to vulnerable persons in shelters;
  5. determine the expectations of vulnerable persons who do not intend to use emergency shelters and consider the potential to provide support;
  6. consider what support vulnerable persons might need if they shelter-in-place; and
  7. determine what support is needed for vulnerable persons to leave the shelter and go to new or previous accommodation.