During Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, Princeton’s emergency response systems were bombarded by calls and struggled to keep up with requests for assistance. A large volume of emergency requests came from vulnerable community members whose situations became emergencies due to storm-related impacts. For example, residents who are dependent on electricity for their oxygen delivery systems developed emergency needs when their power went out. If vulnerable individuals are not able to get the medications, equipment, or the special care they need, they can be at increased risk of complications and even death during an emergency.
Princeton is conducting a series of activities to proactively prepare for the needs of vulnerable citizens during extreme weather, including:
• Table top exercises for emergency personnel and institutional partners to identify vulnerable community members and improve response
• Integrate data collection to create a single repository for information about vulnerable populations; Create processes for this information to be up-to-date, secure, and utilized by first responders and personnel in times of need and compliant with health privacy laws
• Carry-out a public education campaign to educate community members on climate emergency preparation
• Strengthen outreach support systems through existing neighborhood support groups