Are you "planning for or planning with" the whole community? Ensuring inclusion is a daunting task with many variables to consider that impact all of your agency's core capabilities. Do you have inclusion assigned as a secondary responsibility for a member of your team? Should you be thinking bigger, dedicating a full-time position that focuses on ensuring equity and equality is considered in all phases of emergency management? Colorado is one state that has taken the latter route and they have a blueprint that can help you achieve a similar outcome in your state.
- Understanding equity and inclusion (equality) and identifying your subject matter experts in both disciplines.
- Learning strategies to ensure you are effectively planning "with" and for everyone in your community.
Sadie Martinez is the Colorado State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's (DHSEM) Access and Functional Needs Coordinator her role focuses on coordinating the development and operations of a statewide network of contracted local Access and Functional Needs integration emergency planners. She supports state agencies and local jurisdictions in the development of inclusive, whole community emergency operations plans that adequately account for people with Access and Functional Needs, emergency preparedness workshops and serves as the Access and Functional Needs subject matter expert during state-level planning initiatives.
Sadie is using the C-MIST framework to support whole community inclusion in emergency management lifecycle resource planning in the functional needs of Communications, Maintain Health, Independence, Safety, Support Services, Self-Determination, and Transportation from a resource standpoint, rather than a special need or vulnerability. Helping Colorado emergency managers better understand what capabilities to acquire before, during, and after a disaster by approaching Access & Functional Needs from a resource perspective
Brent Michael Houston is the Regional Disability Integration Specialist (RDIS) for Region 8 based in Denver, Colorado. Prior to taking this position Michael was the Disability Integration Advisor for the National Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) East 1, and prior the IMAT team he began his FEMA career as the RDIS for Region 4. Michael is legally deaf, the result of a head injury suffered as a young child. He is a child of deaf adults (CODA) and is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).
Before joining FEMA, he was National Liaison for Deaf Link, Inc. based in San Antonio, Texas. Deaf Link had extensive involvement with various programs within the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and was tasked with providing services (and statewide training to local emergency management agencies) that delivered multiple alternative and accessible communication solutions for Texans who are deaf, deaf-blind, blind and hard of hearing. Michael was also involved with many state-wide non-profit organizations, TDEM trainings and exercises, as well as responding to in state disasters.