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Ore. disaster kit for elderly gets national attention

The kit contains an identification photograph and a list of a person's medications, prescriptions and family contacts

By Sam Wheeler
Mail Tribune

MEDFORD, Ore. — A locally-developed emergency preparedness kit is garnering national attention for its usefulness in helping elderly and vulnerable populations ready themselves for disaster.

Filled out, the kit contains an identification photograph and a list of a person's medications, prescriptions and family contacts, along with a checklist of what items they would need to take into a shelter situation or remain at home.

Development of the kit began in 2008 under the direction of the Vulnerable Populations Committee, a coalition of about 20 representatives from Southern Oregon human service organizations, said Connie Saldana, senior and disability services planner for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

"It's basically to help you organize your thinking ahead of time for what you would need in an emergency," Saldana said. "Everything that is important for you to have is there in one place, so you can have it when you need to evacuate your house."

Outside of a major disaster or emergency, the kit also is a good resource to hand paramedics responding to a 911 call, said Tena Laws, chief marketing officer at Amalgamated Design Concern, which helped design the kit.

Rogue Valley Council of Governments and Ashland-based ADC began producing the kit and have been promoting it since its inception, Saldana said.

The kit, which also has slots for insurance and service animal information, is a featured product in the May/June issue of Emergency Management magazine, and is being considered for a pair of national awards from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Saldana said.

It was developed specifically for elderly individuals and others especially vulnerable during a time of disaster, Laws said, but can be used by anyone.

About 50,000 GoStayKits have been sold to government agencies and individuals around the country since 2009, she said.

"(Governments) like them because they really help people be prepared during disasters," she said.

Law said ADC is developing similar products directed more toward families and a younger audience.

"It ends up being a product of ours that we feel is very important and that we feel could help save lives," she said. "During a panicked situation, it makes the process so much quicker ... you just have to make sure that you fill it out."

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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