Firm Addresses Gaps in Emergency Planning for Disabled People

Oct. 28, 2005
In an emergency, people are forced to make life-altering decisions in a split-second. However, for people with disabilities, making the right decisions requires careful consideration and planning.

[October 27, 2005] Montgomeryville, PA -- In an emergency, people are forced to make life-altering decisions in a split-second. However, for people with disabilities, the key to making the right decisions requires careful consideration and planning. Deaf firefighter Neil McDevitt has founded The McDevitt Group (TMG), to meet these needs.

"I wanted to provide an innovative service to forward-thinking organizations who realize that they need to plan for disasters where evacuation or assistance is required, and to include individuals with disabilities in these plans," said McDevitt.

"For instance, maybe there's a fire situation where all the people in a building have to be evacuated," McDevitt explained. "Usually facilities and companies already have plans in place for these emergencies, but they often forget about people with disabilities, or have plans that are not accessible to all people with disabilities. TMG works to alleviate that."

With 54 million Americans who have disabilities, the need for advance planning is very much present, especially in light of disasters such as Sept. 11 and natural disasters. This point is driven home by a recent court case in Maryland that requires all retail places of business that develop emergency planning activities to specifically include people with disabilities.

"The major difference between TMG and other companies is that other companies may have qualified people with disabilities or qualified emergency responders who can assist with a plan, and TMG is led by a qualified emergency responder with a disability," said McDevitt. "This enables us to develop unique partnerships when it comes to developing our products and delivering our results."

In addition to emergency planning, TMG also offers an array of tailored services.

Emergency evacuation planning services: Ensuring that office buildings, retail establishments, schools, or large facilities properly plan for evacuation of people with disabilities Emergency preparedness training services: Providing training for all people involved in emergency evacuation plans, including employees, teachers, students, and people with disabilities Residences: Providing comprehensive planning, training, and advisory services for emergencies in the home Pre-planning services for fire/EMS/police agencies: Coordinating and implementing outreach efforts to identify individuals with specific needs in communities Training for fire/EMS/police agencies: Classes provided include interacting with the disability population, sign language for rescue agencies and non-verbal communication for rescue operations. "Unfortunately, many places lack the necessary understanding or resources to adequately plan accordingly. Additionally, some plans fall short because they are not communicated to the rescue agencies in a timely manner," McDevitt added. "TMG will resolve this by reviewing first-hand the current emergency plan, developing the necessary strategies to address the needs of people with disabilities, and then communicating that information to the appropriate emergency services agencies." In working with various groups, TMG has maintained its vision of promoting a greater understanding of people with disabilities. "With the expansion and greater understanding of including people with disabilities in all emergency planning activities, we've been able to bring about a higher level of awareness that we, too, are people who need to be concerned about our own safety in times of emergencies," McDevitt said. "TMG creates opportunities for individuals with disabilities to be able to educate others and lead lives of normalcy, and that's the greatest reward of the work we do." For a consultation or more information, visit

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