Emergency Officials Urge Medical Needs Residents to Plan Ahead

Local emergency officials are encouraging Houston-area residents with special needs to plan ahead as hurricane season hits full stride this summer. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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Dr. Emily Dean is the Houston Fire Department's Assistant Medical Director and says residents who are taking multiple medications should make it a point to pack at least several days worth of medicine plus doctor's information and medical records if they evacuate.

"A lot of times patients don't know what medicines they're on and don't know why they take medications. That's why it's incredibly important for them to not only have enough medications to last them several days but also to have a copy of their prescriptions so that they can show other physicians what they're taking and to have a hard copy on paper of what they're medical conditions are."

Dean says during the Rita evacuation, many residents with medical needs didn't know who to call and ended up clogging-up the city's emergency phone lines.

"One thing we did see was a lot of people tried to use 911 as their last-minute evacuation plan during Rita. We know that responders are going to be busy doing emergencies and 911 is not the best way to evacuate your special needs, and that's why we came up with 211. 211 is a citywide initiative to register all patients with medical special needs in the city of Houston."

That registration will allow for an orderly and safe evacuation for residents with special needs. Dr. Dean says everyone should have their own evacuation plan but can use the 211 service as a back-up.

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