By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Kansas communities have struggled with best practice techniques to assist those with special needs during the event of an incident.
In that light, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management has coordinated with several agencies and contracted to develop a Kansas Vulnerable Needs Planning System, or a Vulnerable Needs Registry.
Monday, Seward County Commission Chairman Joyce Hibler signed a memorandum of agreement to allow the county to participate in the program.
That signing came following a unanimous vote of the board. Prior to the vote, emergency management director Greg Standard gave an overview of the registry.
“In ’03, we had a bad storm here in town, and we had a lot of people on home oxygen,” he said. “If the power goes off, the people who need that run out of oxygen. Usually, they have some cylinders to get them by for a couple of hours, but once those are gone, there’s going to be a problem.”
Standard said a registry would allow emergency workers to obtain information such as how many of people with those needs there are and where they live.
He said the 2003 storm identified to local officials that, even in a small community such as Liberal, it would be useful to know who is counting on the help of emergency workers and what kind of help may be needed, including transportation or an oxygen supply.
“We’ve done a little work, and we’ve tried to put something together ourselves locally,” Standard said. “We’ve passed out information and put it on a Web site. We tried to get some people involved in that. I think we’ve got about 40 some people that have responded to that.”
Standard said officials would routinely check the list of individuals in need to see if they still live at the address listed in the registry.
“That’s kind of another process that we would be dealing with,” he said.
Standard said the state’s system would utilize the United Way’s 211 system for people to register so emergency personnel will know where to find them.
“Those folks will register with that,” he said. “Those folks at the United Way are going to do follow up and maintain that list and take care of it. When there’s an event, we can access that list for Liberal or Seward County and find out where those folks are out and what kind of help they might need.”
Standard said the agreement signed at Monday’s meeting is necessary in order to use the registry. He said the information in the data base is confidential.
“In fact, only somebody who needs to provide that service would know who is on the list,” he said. “We’d have to sign an agreement if we want to participate, and we have to agree to have three people trained. I don’t know exactly where that training will be. It’ll be somewhere in Southwest Kansas.”
Standard said Seward County would not incur any costs in terms of computer hardware.
“We need a computer and an Internet connection, and I don’t know, but I guess we have a hundred of those now,” he said jokingly.
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