Frontline Initiative Coping with Disaster

The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been politically active for years. He’s here to give you his spin on how to deal with issues you face as you forge ahead in your role as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). Seth has been a DSP for many years, and he loves to give advice. He may ruffle your feathers, but hey, it’s for your own good! Clifford and Seth tackle this one with a few suggestions.

Everybody Needs a Plan!

Dear Seth and Cliff,

I am a DSP and I work in a home where I support three people who use wheelchairs. Lately, I have been very concerned about being prepared in case something happens on my shift. I sometimes work alone and worry that I would not be able to get all three people out safely if there were a fire or disaster. I also worry that maybe the agency I work for is not as concerned as I am about having an emergency or disaster preparedness plan. What should I do so I am ready in case there is an emergency when I am alone? Any advice? — Alone and Worried

Dear Alone and Worried,

R - U kidding me!!! How can there NOT be a safety plan already in place. Speak immediately with your supervisor and his/her supervisor until you get to top management and the bottom of what’s going on.

— Seth

Dear Alone and Worried,

Talk with your supervisor to develop an evacuation plan in case of a fire. Your plan should be simple and straight forward and your first priority should be getting the guys out of the house. Consider how accessible the house is and if some of the people you support are able to wheel themselves out of the house without your help. Having a plan in place and practicing getting out should help you and the people you support feel more prepared in case of a fire. As for a disaster preparedness plan… I believe your agency has to come up with a disaster preparedness plan to comply with state and federal regulations. Your agency should have a plan in place in case of fire, tornadoes and a variety of other possible disasters. Find out if your agency has a plan and if not start developing one by talking to your supervisor about what you can do to help create a disaster preparedness plan at your site. Check out the article from Project Cope in this issue for ideas on developing your plan.

— Cliff