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Participants during an exercise of SEE ME project.

Equalisation and disability inclusion in civil protection: Project ‘SEE ME’

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In emergency situations, persons with disabilities (PwDs) are recognised as a particularly vulnerable group. On the subject of equalising their rights and opportunities under these circumstances, the Civil Protection Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia has implemented the project ‘SEE ME - Safe and Equal in Emergencies’.

By Knowledge Network – Staff member

Financed under the Call for Proposals for Prevention and Preparedness projects of the UCPM, the project was carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Montenegro and the Administration for Protection and Rescue of the Republic of Slovenia.

Numerous activities to improve the protection of PwDs in critical situations were carried out within this project. An analysis of the specific requirements and deficiencies in the treatment of PwDs in emergencies resulted in the compilation of guidelines for assistance, one of the project’s final outcomes.

In accordance with the PwD motto, ‘nothing about us without us’, a training session for members of the emergency services was organised. Representatives of several associations of PwDs, and individuals themselves, educated the first responders on how to communicate and approach people with different types of disabilities. The conclusions of this workshop were then published in a brochure for first responders.

At the workshops, we gathered representatives of the local and regional self-government entities responsible for preparation of emergency planning documents, with the aim to include PwDs in the planning process. The project also demonstrated the benefits of linking data from PwDs to GIS systems. A video explaining a GIS model for guideline implementation and the advantages of GIS maps depicting locations of PwDs, along with accompanying instructions, was presented.

Aiming to demonstrate the joint operation of the first responders of project partners from Montenegro, Slovenia, and Croatia, an exercise with PwDs as role players was carried out. Its objective was to test the specific adaptation of preparation procedures for emergencies when assisting PwDs, and their implementation during crisis. Improved protection and safety entail non-discriminatory treatment of PwDs in all protection and rescue operations phases.

Various printed materials on the topic of self-help and response in an emergency were finally produced, including brochures, manuals, guidelines and video materials with sound recordings, subtitles, and sign language interpretation to be accessible for persons with different types of disabilities.

“Only by jointly addressing open issues, and harmonising their approaches to planning and emergency preparedness in relation to the protection and rescue of PwDs, can partner countries further improve their coordination in providing cross-border emergency response”.

These project activities will continue in a follow-up project, ‘SEE ME 2’, which will be funded under the UCPM to further empower PwDs and contribute to the equalisation of their rights and opportunities in emergencies.

Find more information at the link.

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The Knowledge Network – Staff member

The Knowledge Network editorial team is here to share the news and stories of the Knowledge Network community. We'd love to hear your news, events and personal stories about your life in civil protection and disaster risk management. If you've got a story to share, please contact us.

Thematic series

Prevention and preparedness activities