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Insight from the West Fargo PD: Emergency assistance registration

One of the most difficult tasks for emergency responders to accomplish during or following a disaster is to identify and locate those people who are in need of assistance. To better plan and prepare for a disaster, Fargo Cass Public Health and the North Dakota Department of Health have developed a registry for residents who may need assistance to evacuate from their homes. The focus of the program is to identify members of the community who live outside of assisted living centers and may need additional assistance in the event of a disaster, especially in the area of transportation.

The individuals to be identified through the registry may include, but are not limited to: those with disabilities, someone considered to be frail, or a person with a significant health issue regardless of age; the elderly with no family or friends available to provide immediate assistance; and persons requiring special transportation accommodations. When registering, a person will be asked for their name, address, telephone number, emergency contact information, whether they require a wheelchair, their current health concerns and mobility transfer issues.

To register yourself, a family member or a person you know who may need assistance during or following a disaster, you may call Fargo Cass Public Health at (701) 476-4066, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Church-related organizations and social groups should consider monitoring members who are or may become eligible for the registry. It is important the registry remain current and updates be made as conditions change.

The recent Xcel Energy natural gas supply interruption was an example of a situation where the assistance registry would have been useful. Local emergency responders were monitoring the natural gas supply status. Plans were being implemented to move homeowners to shelter locations if and when the natural gas supply was exhausted. The assistance registry would have been used to dispatch transportation resources to individuals requiring transportation to the shelters.

Registering into the system should not be considered a guarantee that a person will be placed on a priority list for emergency responders; however, it will make emergency responders aware of an individual’s situation and help them to be better prepared to assist them.