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State agencies receive training on disaster readiness for people with disabilities
Trenton, NJ – The Christie Administration this week announced that the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Disability Services (DDS) completed a series of disability awareness trainings for the coordinators of the state’s lead agencies in emergency and disaster preparedness planning and response. The trainings were conducted in partnership with the State Office of Emergency Management, which contributed funding for the sessions. 

 “Through awareness and knowledge about issues concerning people with disabilities, our state emergency coordinators were able to further develop their professional cultural competence for serving the needs of the disability community,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “This training really raises the bar in our state’s preparedness efforts.”

 During a declared state of emergency, multiple state departments and agencies work together to provide key Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) in areas such as transportation, communication, public works and infrastructure, fire suppression, mass care, emergency assistance and medical services. Each coordinator received technical assistance about integrating individuals with various Access and Functional Needs (AFNs) into each area of the state’s emergency planning and response.

 “Professionals in a variety of planning and emergency response capacities, including first responders, benefit from knowing more about interacting with and responding to emergency situations that involve individuals with disabilities,” said DDS Director Joseph Amoroso. “We also provide disaster preparedness training for individuals with disabilities.”

 Information was provided in two sessions on September 24 and 29, with another scheduled for October 1. DDS integration specialists discussed disability related needs and considerations in disasters and emergencies.  The training provided participants with an understanding of communication and interacting with people who have visual and hearing impairment, physical disabilities and cognitive disabilities.

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