September 15, 2005

Contact: Bridgid Isworth:925-4071; 463-6044 cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Long before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, the University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability produced an easy-to-use tip sheet on how to care and respond to people with disabilities in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Now, two weeks after the crisis in the Gulf states , first responders and other emergency managers from organizations around the country are usingTips for First Respondersby the boxful to assist their efforts to respond to people with disabilities.

Tips for First Responders, an 11-page, color-coded, laminated 4.5 x 5.5-inch field guide offers information on how to assist persons with a wide range of disabilities, including: Seniors, People with Service Animals, People with Mobility Challenges, People with Mental Illness, Blind or Visually Impaired People, Deaf or Hard of Hearing People, and People with Cognitive Disabilities.

These tip sheets provide information about the many types of disabilities first responders might come across during emergencies as well as routine encounters. They are not meant to be comprehensive, but contain specific information that first responders can read quickly either before or while they are responding to an incident.

The President's Commission for People with Intellectual Disabilities member Kathy Hargett, said that the tip sheets are considered "Gold" by people being dispatched to the field for Hurricane Katrina support. According to Hargett, staff from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) among others, are providing great feedback about the usefulness of the product.

Other organizations using the Tip Sheets include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education (UCEDD), the American Red Cross, the Texas Interfaith Disaster Relief Programs and New Mexico National Guard members stationed in Louisiana .

Tips for First Responderswas produced as part of an ongoing, collaborative project on emergency preparedness and people with disabilities. The primary organizations involved in this project include the Center for Development and Disability in the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine; the American Association on Health and Disability, the Research and Training Center at the University of Kansas, the New Mexico Governor's Commission on Disability; and the Office of Health Emergency Management of the New Mexico Department of Health.