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Lt. Gov. Roberts, RIEMA, HEALTH Launch Rhode Island's Special Needs Emergency Registry

Rhode Island residents with special needs encouraged to sign-up online; registry will help state appropriately plan for emergency situations

Cranston, RI – Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) joined forces this morning to encourage Rhode Islanders with disabilities, chronic conditions and special health care needs to sign up with Rhode Island’s newly created Special Needs Emergency Registry.

Whether a Rhode Islander uses oxygen, insulin, a wheelchair, a prosthesis, an assistive animal, or is visually or hearing impaired, all Rhode Islanders with special needs were urged to register or have a family member register for them. Information provided to the Special Needs Emergency Registry will help state planners and emergency responders appropriately prepare for the needs of all Rhode Islanders during emergency situations.

“Being prepared for an emergency means being ready and able to meet the needs of all Rhode Islanders, whether they are young, old, rich, poor, use a wheelchair, are blind, or speak a language other than English,” Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts said. “As lieutenant governor and chair of the Emergency Management Advisory Council, it is my mission to ensure that Rhode Islanders with special needs are included in emergency planning and are assisted in the event of an emergency.”

“This Registry is a major component of emergency preparedness efforts in Rhode Island,” said Director of Health, David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “We saw with hurricane Katrina that people with special health care needs had trouble accessing care. By identifying people with special health care needs now, we will be able to plan more appropriately for emergencies, such as a blizzard, hurricane, or pandemic flu.”

Today’s kickoff is the start of a larger community awareness campaign about the registry, and to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to this information. Materials are available in alternative formats and in the following languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Vietnamese, Chinese, Hmong, Cambodian and Lao. To register, Rhode Islanders can register online at, via phone at 946-9996 or RI relay at 711 (TTY). Posters, public service announcements and registration forms will be disseminated to service providers and community organizations, as well as to the general public.

The registry is maintained jointly by RIEMA and HEALTH. In addition, RIEMA, HEALTH and the Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing chair the Special Needs Workgroup, a subcommittee of the Emergency Management Advisory Council (EMAC) which reports directly to Roberts’ EMAC. As chair of the EMAC, Roberts is dedicated to supporting the work of the Special Needs Work Group and bolstering the work of Rhode Island’s emergency planners.

The Special Needs Workgroup meets monthly and is comprised of representatives from State agencies and service providers from the community. Concerns specific to particular populations are discussed and solutions are developed to better forecast resource needs during a disaster.


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