Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Ron Walli (wallira@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


New emergency preparedness video aimed at people with special needs

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 27, 2010 — Final edits to a video that will help people with disabilities better prepare for emergencies are being made this month, according to Oak Ridge National Laboratory's John Sorensen, co-writer and producer of the project.

The training video focuses on emergency planning for populations with access and functional needs, sometimes called "inclusive planning," said Sorensen, who has produced several videos to help people cope with manmade and natural disasters. Sorensen is a member of the Department of Energy lab's Environmental Sciences Division.

"The inclusive concept has emerged as a method to integrate individuals and groups with access and functional needs into the overall community planning process," Sorensen said.

With more than two decades of federal mandates and regulations aimed at eliminating discrimination against people with medical conditions, disabilities and access issues, emergency planners and officials sometimes are confused about the process.

"The challenge is to determine the best way to pursue the integrative process while still fulfilling their mandated missions of protection and search and rescue operations," Sorensen said.

The information contained in the 45-minute video should help community officials develop comprehensive emergency plans that include provisions for people with special needs and disabilities, and others who may be particularly vulnerable during hazardous events.

"Once plans are in place, it is incumbent upon officials and agencies to disseminate the information on the provisions to appropriate advocacy groups, organizations and other relevant groups that work with special needs populations," Sorensen said.

The video, titled "Emergency Planning for Populations with Access and Functional Needs," will be distributed nationally to any interested emergency management organization on DVD and on line in a downloadable digital format. Barbara Vogt Sorensen, co-writer and the developer of the concept, believes the video can make a difference.

"For many years the problems of people with needs that put them at greater risk in an emergency have been downplayed," she said. "Since Hurricane Katrina there has been an effort by the government to ensure emergency planning must include all members of a community."

The Sorensens have produced several emergency preparedness videos for the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including one titled "Animals in Emergencies: What Owners Need to Know." Their last video for FEMA, "Communicating Public Information in Emergencies," won an Aurora Award (an independent film and video competition for commercials, cable programming, documentaries, industrial, instructional and corporate videos).

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The project was funded by the Chemical Stockpile Preparedness Program (http://emc.ornl.gov/CSEPPweb/CommPubInfo.htm) in the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA.