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Lincoln-Lancaster County
Emergency Management

Special Needs Registry

Program Description

Introduction: Hurricane Katrina raised serious national concern for the plight of persons in a disaster who are frail, health impaired, disabled, or medically fragile. The loss of life among these groups can be much higher than that of the general population. In New Orleans, fifteen percent (15%) of the population was age 65 or older. Seventy percent (70%) of the fatalities were over age 65. The tragedy launched a national effort to improve personal preparedness, local planning, and emergency response capabilities for vulnerable populations.

Description: The Special Needs Registry is a confidential list of the residents of Lincoln and Lancaster County who will need more help or are likely to be disconnected from critically important support after a disaster. Enrollment is completely voluntary. The registry contains names, addresses, and health information regarding persons who are frail, health impaired, disabled, or medically fragile. In the event of a disaster, the internet database is unlocked. Emergency management officials and first responders are given access to information which will aid search and rescue and the provision emergency care.

Purpose: The Special Needs Registry's purpose is three-fold:

Auspices: The Lincoln/Lancaster Special Needs Registry is a service of Lincoln-Lancaster County Emergency Management in partnership with the LIFE Office, the Personal and Family Services Division of the Lincoln Area Agency on Aging. The Special Needs Registry receives important continuing support from the member agencies of the Lincoln/Lancaster Emergency Medical Response Services, City of Lincoln Information Services, and the Lincoln/Lancaster Department of Public Health.

Funding: The Lincoln/Lancaster Special Needs Registry is made possible by Lincoln-Lancaster Emergency Management through the use of federal Homeland Security funds.

Technologies: The Special Needs Registry combines three cutting-edge technologies. Thanks to the City of Lincoln's Information Services, the Registry utilizes the capabilities of the internet, the deployment of information via wireless communications, and the global positioning satellite system (GPS) that is used for worldwide navigation.

After a disaster, the Registry's database is sent from the mainframe computer of the City of Lincoln and distributed wirelessly to first responders. The locations of the homes of registered persons are pinpointed by GPS coordinates drawn from existing property tax records. The Hallam tornado left a featureless debris field that was devoid of recognizable streets and street signs. Now, first responders will be guided to the precise location of registered households by handheld GPS devices.

Personal Preparedness: It is critically important for all citizens to plan and prepare in advance for a local emergency. The Registry's Enrollment Kit includes detailed instructions to guide personal planning and the organization of emergency supplies. Additionally, the kit includes a "File of LIFE." The file contains detailed emergency health information. Lincoln Fire and Rescue's Emergency Medical Technicians routinely look for the magnetic file on the refigerator during everyday ambulance calls.

Community Preparedness: Statistical reports from the Registry and GPS data will aid emergency planning. Planners will be furnished with a high-altitude view of the distribution of registered homes along with statistical reports regarding the frequency and nature of needs.

You Should Register: If you will need special care, attention, or additional resources in the course of rescue, evacuation, and sheltering after a disaster. If your rely on homemaking, personal care, or nursing visits to maintain your independence in your home or apartment. If you need life-sustaining equipment in your home and uninterrupted electrical service. If you are medically fragile and will require special care and attention. If you have physical limitations that substantially impair mobility, strength, vision, hearing, or comprehension.

You Should Not Register: If you are fully able and usually healthy. If you do not reside or have a permeant residence in Lancaster County. If you resides in a care facility that is protected by a State required disaster plan.

Maintenance of Records: To maintain highly accurate and up-to-date records, the Special Needs Registry requires registrants to update enrollment information every year or when a significant change occurs. Please note your enrollment date on the front of your Enrollment Kit.

All Hazards: The Registry may be used by Lincoln-Lancaster Disaster Management in response to a variety of natural and man-made threats. Emergencies may include tornado, severe weather, flood, fire, power outage, hazardous plume or spill, or blast threats.

Limitations: Registration does not guarantee that registered victims will get help first in a disaster. Search and rescue personnel must work needs as they are encountered. However, rescuers will know the exact location of registered persons and the nature of their need for additional assistance. Always call 911 in a personal emergency.

Privacy of Personal Information: Registration information is carefully secured and kept in the strictest confidence by Lincoln-Lancaster Emergency Management. Personal information will only be released on a need-to-know basis and in the event of a local emergency. Registry information will only be shared with emergency response and disaster recovery related agencies. These organizations include local law enforcement, fire, search and rescue personnel, emergency medical, health, allied human service agencies, and public utilities.

Replication and Expansion: The Lincoln/Lancaster Special Needs Registry is a demonstration project that may be expanded or replicated to serve other Nebraska Counties.

Information and Registration Assistance: Call or visit The LIFE Office, 1005 O Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508 , Phone: 402-441-7070, Toll Free: 1-800-247-0938

Special Needs Registry