It should come as no surprise that we live in an aging society. As our society continues to grow old, family members should be concerned about their loved ones who live with disabilities.  

I recently read an article (found here) that describes the obstacles that our law enforcement and emergency professionals are confronted with when responding to an emergency involving a disabled or elderly person.

The article describes stories where law enforcement and emergency professionals were not aware or misunderstood the unique limitations of people with disabilities and were unable to offer the best assistance during their need for help. For instance, the article describes “a California man who, while waiting for his bus home from work, was beaten by officers who mistook his folded white cane for a martial arts weapon and a Florida man dumped from his wheelchair by a deputy who didn’t believe he was paralyzed.”

The focus of this article should be for family members to be prepared for emergencies. Some helpful tips to becoming prepared are:

1. Instructing family members with disabilities to contact family members right after emergency professionals;

2. Keeping relevant health records in an easily accessible location and instructing family members to give the materials to emergency professionals; and

3. Enlisting your neighbours and nearby friends to offer assistance in emergency situations.

There is no full-proof method of preventing some of the tragedies that the article describes but our family members are the most important people in our lives and we can protect them from traumatic and life-threatening events through careful planning.    

Thank you for reading.

Rick Bickhram

 

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