Public health workbook to define, locate and reach special, vulnerable, and at-risk populations in an emergency
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Public health workbook to define, locate and reach special, vulnerable, and at-risk populations in an emergency

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      "The capacity to reach every person in a community is one of the major goals for emergency preparedness and response. The goal of emergency health communication is to rapidly get the right information to the entire population so that they are able to make the right choices for their health and safety. To do this, a community must know what subgroups make up its population, where the people in these groups live and work, and how they best receive information. Although knowing this type of information might seem obvious, many jurisdictions have not yet begun the process to define or locate their at-risk populations. To maintain consistency with the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), this workbook uses the term "at-risk populations" to describe individuals or groups whose needs are not fully addressed by traditional service providers or who feel they cannot comfortably or safely use the standard resources offered during preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. These groups include people who are physically or mentally disabled (e.g., blind, deaf, hard-of-hearing, have learning disabilities, mental illness or mobility limitations), people with limited English language skills, geographically or culturally isolated people, homeless people, senior citizens, and children. Regardless of terminology, trust plays a critical role in reaching at-risk populations. Reaching people through trusted channels has shown to be much more effective than through mainstream channels. For some people, trusted information comes more readily from within their communities than from external sources. This document describes a process that will help planners to define, locate, and reach at-risk populations in an emergency. Additional tools are included to provide resources for more inclusive communication planning that will offer time-saving assistance for state, local, tribal, and territorial public health and emergency management planners in their efforts to reach at-risk populations in day-to-day communication and during emergency situations. If you follow the process outlined in this document, you will begin to develop a Community Outreach Information Network (COIN)--a grassroots network of people and trusted leaders who can help with emergency response planning and delivering information to at-risk populations in emergencies. Building a strong network of individuals who are invested in their community's well-being, who are prepared and willing to help, and who have the ability to respond in an emergency is just the start. You must also include network members in your emergency preparedness planning, test the capacity of your COIN to disseminate information through preparedness exercises, and make changes to your preparedness plans based on the evaluation of those exercises. "--p. 4.


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