Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Photograph of emergency preparation kit including batteries, flash light, first aid kit, and water

Public Alerts and the Additional Needs Registry

The joint City of Portland and Multnomah County community emergency notification system is able to send phone, text/SMS and email alerts to addresses within Multnomah County. Emergency responders use the system to notify residents and businesses affected during an emergency. Their alerts often suggest safety actions such as staying inside or evacuating.

The system is preprogrammed with local landline phone numbers from phone company records. To receive messages by email, text, cell phone or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), residents must register relevant contact information at www.PublicAlerts.org

The notification system is just one of several tools used by emergency responders to alert the public. It is not activated in all situations. Emergency information is also provided through broadcast and print media, social media, the PublicAlerts.org website and the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on TV and radio.

Sign Up Here: http://www.publicalerts.org/signup

What is the Additional Needs Registry within Public Alerts?

The Additional Needs Registry is a completely voluntary, opt-in program for individuals with disabilities in Portland and Multnomah County. We suggest including the one or two places you spend the most time, including your home and workplace.

What It Does

If you include your information on the Additional Needs Registry, three things will happen:

  1. Your additional needs will be shared with 9-1-1 police and fire responders.
  2. You will receive occasional additional emergency preparedness information.
  3. Your information will contribute to general City and County disaster planning for people with disabilities.

Registry information will be entered into the 9-1-1 system within two months of being provided.

What It Does Not Do

It is important to know what this registry does NOT do. Please note:

  1. This registry does NOT sign you up for specific assistance or evacuation during an emergency. Registering will not prioritize you for assistance or evacuation.
  2. This registry does NOT promise that 9-1-1 police and fire responders will meet your additional needs when they respond to a 9-1-1 call.
  3. This registry does NOT guarantee any service from City, County, or public safety officials.

In an emergency, police, fire, and other responders might not be able to access your information or do what you request. This is why we cannot promise that anyone will meet your additional needs. If you register your additional needs, you should still do everything you can to prepare yourself for an emergency. Find more information about emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.

Why Should I Share my Additional Needs with Public Alerts?

By voluntarily participating in the registry, you will be sharing important and personal information with public safety responders that may help them to better assist you. Here are examples where the information is extremely helpful:

  1. If you get lost, a public safety responder may be able to use the emergency contact information to contact someone in your support system.
  2. If you are in a crisis and unable to communicate with a public safety responder, they may be able to get more information about your medical and personal needs from someone you trust.
  3. If you are home and call 9-1-1, public safety responders may have more details about your disability when they arrive to help.
  4. This information will help City and County Emergency Planners to better plan for the needs of people with disabilities, as a group, during a major disaster.

Neighborhood Emergency Team

If you are a person with a disability and would like to be trained and certified as a member of your Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET), contact the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) at NET@portlandoregon.gov or (503) 823-4375. 

You can find more information about NET training by visiting: http://www.portlandonline.com/netclass

Emergency Preparedness Online Training and Workbook

Emergencies and disaster happen quickly and without warning, forcing people to evacuate or shelter in their home.  This can be challenging for anyone but for a person with a disability it can be a matter of life and death. In other disaster situations like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, people with disabilities were most affected and were among the highest casualties.

It is important to plan ahead so you are prepared. Our video training and booklet gives you tips on staying informed, creating a support group, assembling a kit, and having plan. These tips provide people with disabilities guidance in managing communication, equipment, pets, and home hazards. The material is based on the Ready Now training developed in partnership with Oregon Office on Disability Health.

Links to a printable version of the workbooks and the various accessible versions of the training can be found below and in the navigation bar. Questions? Email Leila.Haile@portlandoregon.gov or call 503-823-9970.

Additional Resources

Ready.gov Ready is a National public service campaign designed to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. The website includes a "Plan" section which includes specific information for people with disabilities, families, seniors, kids, pet owners and more!

Emergency self preparedness training book:

Emergency self preparedness training video for people with disabilities:

Promote the Common Good: Civic Life is building stronger communities by supporting and empowering Portlanders. We think, act, and partner with our communities to better understand and take care of their diverse needs. We invite you to join us in this continuous, much needed work to make our communities safer and more welcoming for all.