ATHENS – “No one should be left behind,” is the message that people with disabilities are sending to deal with and manage risks during natural disasters. However, in parallel with this slogan, the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection is planning actions for their inclusion in dealing with the risks of natural disasters.
Civil Protection, in collaboration with the local government, is on track to create registers of people with disabilities in every municipality in Greece, and at the same time, the new generation of 112 is being planned for its further upgrade. In particular, lists with contact details of persons with disabilities who live within the jurisdiction of each municipality are to be drawn up, following their prior consent, for the targeted planning of protection actions, taking into account the type of disability.
“It needs a specialized approach, but first it needs registration! This is where the municipalities, who know where their citizens live and what their needs are, should help. If they do not know, they must immediately proceed with this registration. Many times you will hear us say that people with disabilities are the first to perish and the last to be saved. In large part because for the state and search and rescue mechanisms, they are not visible,” the President of the Greek National Confederation of Disabled People, Ioannis Vardakastanis, said to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, in the context of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
People with disabilities, with chronic conditions, the elderly, face the same risks during natural disasters as the general population, however, as Vardakastanis explained, the difference lies in how the rescue will be made.
With 112 as a tool, Civil Protection is planning its “next day, the new generation” as the special Pan-European Mobile Emergency Apps project, PEMEA will be included in 112. It is a pan-European network that enables emergency applications that have been developed in other European countries, to operate in Greece. This specific one will give the possibility to citizens – beyond the classic communication channels – to communicate via video, so that they can also be served in sign language.
“If 112 is accessible to a hearing-impaired person, he will perceive the danger in time. But a mechanism similar to 112 should be created for people who do not have a smartphone. Visually impaired persons must also have escape or rescue instructions accessible to them. Similarly, citizens with mobility disabilities, or people with mental disabilities, etc.,” Vardakastanis pointed out to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).