BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There will be a gathering in Washington DC in May that draws all segments of first response disaster aid: emergency managers, planners, federal, tribal, territorial, state and local government, elected officials, public health and public safety experts, faith leaders, business and industry and higher education leaders.
The "Getting It Right" conference sponsored by Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies will include a south Louisiana grassroots group for the second year in a row.
"Last year we had a media montage and were showcased for our work in the 2016 BRLA flood Relief efforts," said Angéla Lorio, a co-founder of Trach Mommas of Louisiana. "For the first time in the history of Louisiana, there was not a shortage of medical supplies."
This year, Trach Mommas will "share promising and good practices, learn more about what works, new opportunities, responsibilities and where organizations, communities, and businesses can find the resources to pay for improving whole community accessible disaster readiness and disability inclusive community resilience."
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Lorio and co-founder Jessica Michot learned the hard way how difficult it was during a natural disaster to find suppliers for their fragile children, let alone sanitary and sterile supplies.
Children who have respiratory or swallowing issues may have tracheostomy equipment to help them survive. It is help they continually need, not something they can do without during flooding and power outages. Lorio says those kinds of mistakes can be deadly, not just for children but for all people with respiratory issues.
"The past year has been a time of devastating community and economic impacts due to disasters around the world. In the U.S., there were at least 16 catastrophic disasters with over 300 lives lost. The cumulative cost of these disasters is $306.2 billion dollars. Among the people who lost their lives or sustained serious injuries, people with disabilities and older adults were impacted at disproportionally high rates."
The "Getting It Right" Conference will hear how Trach Mommas in Louisiana were added to the state-wide and nation-wide GOHSEP and FEMA teams.
"We were part of a team of volunteers coordinating with Special Needs &Parent Support Services of LA, LLC (SNAPSS) working to connect families with special healthcare needs to specialized evacuation assistance provided by the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). This involved directing first responders by phone as to needs and locations and possible solutions to get individuals who had unique medical needs to safety. TMOL worked through social media and other sources to connect with families that needed emergency evacuation for 48 hours during the ongoing weather disaster event."
When the recovery process began, Trach Mommas used social media and every resource they had to ask organizations across the nation to help with supplies and equipment.
Lorio said "Shipments of medical equipment and supplies came from a wide variety of sources across the United States in response to TMOL's request for help. TMOL collaborated with ALS association and other community partners for warehouse space to sort and inventory supplies and worked with State Department of Health Officials in the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Public Health and other state agencies to develop a protocol for distribution to those in need. Life-sustaining medical supplies included respiratory, tracheostomy, ostomy, gastrointestinal, urinary and general medical supplies as well as oxygen concentrators, suction machines and nebulizers, air purifiers that have been donated from multiple national sources. Approximately 3,000 individuals of all ages were served across the affected areas of the state of Louisiana who had a variety of medical needs. In-kind medical and other supplies received nationwide totaled approximately 2.5 tons."
Trach Mommas performed so well that when Puerto Rico aid was being sent by the state, GOHSEP asked Trach Mommas not only order up supplies but also advise them about things like distributing oxygen bottles on the military flights before shipping out more police cars.
Trach Mommas new campaign is to get families with sustained electricity needs power inverters which would allow a medical machine to be powered by family's car battery until help can come. The power inverter would change the battery's DC charge to AC for the medical device.
Trach Mommas has a gr ant, Lorio said. "We will develop eligibility criteria and a priority system to ensure that individuals/families with the greatest need and with the ability to use a power inverter will benefit from the project. Through a partnership with the Louisiana Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, when a potential recipient is identified, an application/screening process will be used to ensure that a power inverter is an appropriate solution and that the proper type of power inverter is provided. The power inverters will be purchased from Amazon and then installed in vehicles at a licensed auto shop. Trach Mommas is partnering with Karen Scallan, Certified Parent Support Provider, of Special Needs &Parent Support Services of LA, LLC (SNAPSS) to provide the emergency preparedness training. The training will be a required component of the process of obtaining a power inverter."