Date of Award

5-1-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Russell B. Toal, MPH - Chair

Second Advisor

William L. Waugh, Jr.

Third Advisor

John Steward, MPH

Abstract

The emergency response readiness of the public health and emergency management systems have become increasingly important topics for research, development and action in the United States. Senior citizens represent a large and growing population group in the United States. Older persons are likely to be disproportionately vulnerable during disasters because they are more likely to have chronic illnesses, functional limitations, and sensory, physical and cognitive disabilities than those of younger ages. Elderly health and safety have become the responsibility of the elderly themselves, of the community in which they live, and the various agencies and organizations charged with preparedness planning. The goal of this study was to assess the emergency operations plans (EOPs) of emergency relief agencies and organizations in the Atlanta area for the provision of emergency relief services utilized by senior citizens as a special needs population. The research and analysis performed was completed in two steps: a review of collected disaster and emergency operations plans (EOPs) and standard operating procedures (SOPs), and a qualitative analysis of a survey submitted to the agencies. Although many EOPs and SOPs referred to emergency relief services for special needs populations, the plans were not functional and did not fully outline the ‘who, what, when, where and how” to provide disaster relief services. Public health agencies must endeavor to better address the disaster related needs of elderly persons who have physical disabilities, special medical needs and communication disabilities. Disaster preparedness plans must ensure the availability of all items necessary to control and prevent complications related to chronic diseases, prevent acute events and promote functionality and independence.

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