A new pilot project to create an emergency preparedness program for seniors is being spearheaded in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
It will be headed by Barbara Morgan, owner of Civic Safety, an emergency preparedness company that sells supplies, provides training and develops emergency preparedness plans.
The end goal of the project will be to produce an official guide for seniors with a further commitment to give 23 information sessions on the topic.
What is unique about the project is that it is going to be led by seniors who will also be trained to give the emergency preparedness sessions.
Seniors will be helping seniors.
“Generally speaking, there isn’t a lot of information out there to do with seniors and emergency preparedness,” said Morgan.
“What people have done in the past is they’ve taken the books that are written and they give it a bigger font and said, ‘Okay, this is for seniors.’”
Nobody has really looked into what some the specific challenges are to seniors in an emergency situation, she added.
“Really, the bottom line is that seniors have to be prepared themselves,” said Morgan, because of the limited resources that will be available to them.
If there were a major earthquake in the region, ambulance, police and fire services would be limited. Patients who require medication would not have access. And if you make it to a hospital?
“If that’s the case, you are going to be triaged and placed at the back of the line because there are people there in much more dire straights,” said Morgan.
The preparedness project will strive to offer solutions to issues such as what a person would do if there is no electricity, or if they are dependent on oxygen, or if they have mobility issues and live in a high-rise with no access to an elevator, or people who need home-care.
“The model of stay at home for as long as you can, that’s a great model. However, in an emergency, is your care giver going to come? Chances are not,” said Morgan, adding that there are solutions like getting to know your neighbours and making emergency plans with them or having floor wardens if you live in a condo.
People should also have an out-of-province contact person for themselves and their family. This will enable everyone to check in somewhere and make sure their loved ones are okay.
“Because, chances are, everybody will be separated [in an emergency],” said Morgan.
There will be at least two focus groups conducted to gather information, one for seniors and the other for various seniors’ agencies.
Material from the project is going to be shared globally.
Morgan is hoping there will be a good turn out, especially for the seniors focus group.
She can’t stress enough how important emergency preparedness is, especially for seniors or people who are part of that vulnerable segment of society.
“We’ve been told for years that we’re getting an earthquake. We’ve been told now that in the next 50 years we’re getting a big one,” said Morgan.
“If you take medication, you’re a vulnerable population. If you can’t sleep in a cot or if you can’t sleep on the floor on a mat, you’re a vulnerable population. And vulnerable becomes very, very uncomfortable because you will not have the resources, and that’s a fact,” she continued.
She says that the hope is to have a guide in hand by January 2017, when the group will also start conducting information sessions.
• The first focus group will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on May 16 at the South Bonson Community Centre, 10932 Barnston View Road in Pitt Meadows.
Everyone is welcome to participate and are asked to RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-785-7179.
There will also be sign-up sheets at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre at 12150 – 224th Street in Maple Ridge and at the Pitt Meadows Seniors Centre, 19065 – 119B Avenue in Pitt Meadows.