In an effort to make sure residents with disabilities or special needs are accounted for in an emergency or natural disaster, McPherson County commissioners recently voted to participate in the Kansas Vulnerable Needs Planning System.
The system is an Internet-based registry of persons with special needs that emergency responders can access in order to locate those people. The information is not available to the public, and registration is voluntary. The registry collects information such as name, location, age, contact numbers, special needs, caregiver requirements, health issues, needed equipment, service animal needs and other information.
“Taking care of those with special needs is a community effort,” said Kansas Adjutant General and Director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting. “Our first responders can do a better job when there is a system of community volunteers to assist them and facilities with the ability to receive people who have special needs.”
In McPherson County, commissioners designated the county’s communications department, emergency services office and public health office as managers of the list.
County Emergency Management Director Dillard Webster told commissioners that the system has seen a great deal of use in high-population areas. County Public Health Director Fern Hess also endorsed participation in the program.
State officials advise that participation in this list is not a substitute for personal planning, and that it is a supplement for other resources. Registration does not guarantee services.
In order to sign up for the registry, residents can go to its website at www.helpmekansas.org, or by dialing 211 (a service funding by United Way) to have information collected over the phone.