This document is a chapter from "Emergency Management in Higher Education: Current Practices and Conversations", which was presented at the 2007 FEMA Emergency Management for Higher Education Conference. "Emergency planning can be hampered by uncertainties about how to identify special-needs populations and how to address the needs for assistance across several distinct groups within the community. However, adopting a function-based approach to planning for special-needs populations allows planners to group overall response resources on the basis of core functional areas, including maintaining independence, communication, transportation, supervision, and medical care. A comprehensive strategy to reach individuals with appropriate support focuses on what specific resources will be needed to sustain or restore pre-disaster capabilities. This paradigm shift in emergency planning furthers life safety and health objectives, creates efficiencies in allocating resources, and aligns emergency management efforts with the principles of civil rights laws. It hinges on engaging special-needs community organizations in efforts to promote personal preparedness, secure subject matter expertise, and formalize agreements for disaster support. As a result of a function-based approach to planning, emergency managers can build special-needs considerations into all aspects of the EOP, thus raising the community's capacity to respond to and recover from an emergency."
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center: http://rems.ed.gov/