This program from Miami Dade County offers assistance to those residents with physical disabilities and/or mobility, sensorial or intellectual disabilities during emergency situations such as hurricanes or flooding.
By: Edda Pujadas
DORAL, FL – To have to evacuate your residence during an emergency is stressing enough, even more, if the person evacuating is one with special needs because they require extra assistance. For this reason, Miami Dade County offers an Emergency and Evacuation Assistance Program.
Representatives from the Department of Emergency Management of Miami Dade explained that the Emergency and Evacuation Assistance Program is designed to help people with special needs that live in their homes and need help during evacuation situations.
They made it clear that the eligible applicants must have a medical condition that requires a specialized treatment that will not be available at the regular Evacuation Centers during an emergency.
An example of approved applicants to this program are those residents that require special transportation and/or that do not have the transportation means or those whose medical condition does not allow them to evacuate on their own.
Residents with disabilities, those that require specialized nursing services, assistance on a daily basis or medical equipment that requires electricity are the ones that must register in the EEAP.
It is important to clarify that residents of an Assisted Living Facility or Senior Residences do not qualify to apply for the EEAP, the reason is that these facilities have the obligation to create their own emergency plans to protect their residents.
Once the person is registered with the EEAP, they can use the services for any emergency that requires an evacuation, such as a hurricane, tornados, flooding, chemical or hazardous material releases (as examples we can say an industrial accident or a terrorist act), wildfires, widespread power outages, radiation releases, etc.
The program offers specialized transportation, safe haven, medical monitoring, and wellness checks. Even when the EEAP provides a wide range of assistance and as much as they possibly can, it is important to mention that the Special Needs Evacuation Centers do not offer the same level of care and do not have the same type of equipment that a specialized medical facility has.
This type of evacuation center can only offer basic medical assistance. Special beds and cots are provided in a limited way and for those people that require a higher level of medical attention such as continuous oxygen, life support that might require electricity and that have advanced conditions and needs admission into hospitals that are participating with the program will be granted, these hospitals are also known as Medical Management Facilities.
Another thing that is important to take into consideration is that as in every emergency situation staff is limited, for this reason, the representatives of EEPA also recommend that a relative or the person in charge of the care of the special needs resident, accompany this person during its stay at the evacuation center.
Another recommendation is that if the person requires a special diet, they should take their dietary supplies in order to guarantee that they can continue with their diet while at the evacuation center. It is also requested that the special needs resident bring a disaster kit that includes blankets and sheets, medicine and personal items such as food, water, and medical equipment.
All Miami Dade evacuation centers exceed US Disability Law standards (ADA) for emergency shelters and include accessible entrances, service areas, activities, and restrooms. These evacuation centers are also equipped with text phones (TTY), boards with screens and printed material in large fonts.
In order to make the time that these people will be out of their own homes as comfortable and pleasant as possible, all of these evacuation centers accept service animals. It is important to remember that the evacuation kit in these cases must include the food and other supplies that the pet or service animal requires.
To register in this program, the applicant must fill out the registration form that is available online at www.miamidade.gob/fire/eeap.asp.
The form must be filled out in its entirety and the primary doctor of the person must also complete a portion of the form and sign it. If there is more than one person in your family that requires help during an evacuation, each person must fill out a form.
This form must be filled out online or be mailed at Miami Dade Department of Emergency Management, Emergency and Evacuation Assistance Program located at 9300 NW 41ststreet. The form is available in English, Spanish and Creole.
Once your application is processed, the Miami Dade County Emergency Management Department will contact you to provide you with the necessary instructions and they will also contact you every year afterward in order for you to certify that you still need this program.
It is important that the residents understand that if they have not already been registered in the EEAP, it is probable that they do not receive service during an evacuation.
Before the arrival of the storm or any other foreseeable emergency, the Miami Dade County Emergency Management Department will establish a time, that will be notified via the local communication outlets, in which they will suspend last-minute registrations for special needs residents. If this is the case, you must call 311 at that time.
If you require additional information you can call 305-468-5900