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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


New Training to Enhance Disaster Health Outcomes for Your Whole Community

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 4/12/2019 3:27:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Free online training focuses on helping people with access and functional needs

In planning for the whole community’s needs during a disaster, consider that on any given day, approximately half of the U.S. population has a temporary or permanent condition that limits their ability to take action in an emergency. Simply put – they have access and functional needs (AFN).

Addressing access and functional needs is a crucial part of comprehensive disaster planning for the whole community and is mandated for inclusion in federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial public health emergency plans. ASPR has developed the HHS/ASPR Access and Functional Needs (AFN) Web-Based Training to help public health officials, emergency managers, and social/human service providers learn how to address access and functional needs in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

The concept of access and functional needs provides an inclusive approach to describing the wide array of populations who may have additional needs before, during, or after an emergency. Populations with access and functional needs may include but are not limited to:

children, people who live in institutional settings, older adults, pregnant women, people with disabilities, people with chronic conditions, people with pharmacological dependency, people with limited access to transportation, limited English proficiency/non-English speakers,people of low socioeconomic status, and homeless indivduals

Public health officials, emergency managers, and social/human service providers need to be aware of and comply with a legal requirements that were designed to protect individuals with access and functional needs from discrimination. The training highlights information from federal guidance, laws and executive orders that require non-discrimination for addressing access and functional needs—both specific and non-specific to a disaster context.

Within the training, participants will learn how to operationalize the Communication, Maintaining Health, Independence, Support and Safety, and Transportation (CMIST) framework so that they may address a broad set of common access and functional needs irrespective of specific diagnoses, status, or labels.

CMIST Framework is comprised of communication, maintaining health, independence, support & safety, and transportation.

Additionally, the training provides a number of tools and resources for addressing access and functional needs during disaster preparedness, response, and recovery activities. Participants will find relevant data, recommended partners, and links to tools and information so that they may immediately apply what they have learned and successfully address access and functional needs in their communities.

Ensuring that you are taking the necessary steps to provide people with access and functional needs with the assistance they need to stay healthy in a disaster requires strong partnerships, a solid understanding of the legal requirements, and advance planning. The new HHS/ASPR Access and Functional Needs (AFN) Web-Based Training can help you better understand and operationalize these requirements so you can promote better health outcomes for the whole community.


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