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County Launches Program to Aid Disabled in Emergencies

By Joyce Kryszak

BUffalo, NY – Emergency response in Erie County will soon include a coordinated effort to make sure the most vulnerable in our communities are helped in times of crisis.

The October storm stripped away more than trees when it hit. The surprise snow storm also revealed weaknesses in emergency response. One area of particular vulnerability is how the county helps those who are least able to help themselves - the thousands of disabled people throughout the county.

Emily Kaznica is Director of the County Office for the Disabled. She says disabled people face extra fears in a crisis.

The county's new RQ - or "Readiness Quotient" program - is designed to better mobilize and inform emergency response teams. Information and data survey forms are being distributed to all emergency managers in all Erie County municipalities, including Buffalo.

The forms will be distributed to individual homes and facilities. Information collected, including details of any special needs, would then be compiled in the county-wide data base.

Greg Skibitsky is Deputy Commissioner of the county's Emergency Medical Services. He says the program will enhance services municipalities already provide.

Posters and informational pamphlets will also be available to help raise community awareness. The data base is expected to be in place by late summer.

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