Frontline Initiative Coping with Disaster

Frontline Notes

Do you remember what you were doing on September 11, 2001? Most of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard about the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Did hearing the news change anything in your life? There are many stories about ordinary people who found they were heroes not by choice but rather because of the attack. While news media covered the attacks and kept Americans informed, they did not share the stories about countless Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who made sure every person they supported was safe and accounted for.

The story about individuals with developmental disabilities who were working in the area when the plane struck the Pentagon was not told. The fact that everyone on this crew made it out of the building safe and uninjured was due to the dedication of the DSPs supervising the crew. The story about people with developmental disabilities who worked at the World Trade Center was not told. None of these stories were even mentioned by the media. In this issue of Frontline Initiative our cover story shares excerpts from “We Watch the City” a video documentary and booklet about what September 11th meant to the Americans with disabilities who were personally touched by the terrorist attack.

Disaster, natural or man made, can happen at any time, anywhere. What would you do if disaster struck? Would you know how to cope if your home or place of employment was destroyed by floods, fire or other natural disasters? As a DSP would you be ready to support someone with developmental disabilities through a disaster that could take away their home? The article on Project Cope has some practical advice about preparing someone you support to cope with and survive disasters. Across the country there are snow and ice storms, floods, earthquakes, tornados, fires and other natural disasters that profoundly effect people with developmental disabilities and the people that support them.

Whether it is giving day-to-day support or helping stabilize someone’s world after disaster strikes, DSPs have a profound influence on the quality of life for the people they support. This influence needs professional recognition and national attention. Read the article about ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign to improve wages and benefits for DSPs. This effort will increase public awareness regarding the important role DSPs play in the lives of Americans with disabilities. Finally, it is our hope that by offering practical advice on emergency preparedness, advising you of important national campaigns to improve the status of direct support professionals and by telling the stories from “We Watch the City” all Americans will know that what you do is important and matters every day.