From AP - News Headlines -

Emergency Responders Consider the Disabled in Disaster Plans

The confusion in the wake of Hurricane Katrina four years ago included serious problems evacuating and caring for society's most vulnerable people.

Hospitals and nursing homes were thrown into chaos, and in some cases patients died for reasons that could have been avoided. The Illinois College of Emergency Physicians held a seminar Friday in Urbana to address the problem of moving people in health care facilities, psychiatric hospitals or group homes. Doctor Moses Lee, the medical director for the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team, said "I think many people have seen from Katrina all the difficulties of transporting patients out of a hospital and stabilizing them and figuring out how to place them. So there have been a lot of requests from our audiences over the years that they want to learn more about this dilemma and this challenge. There are not a lot of answers out there, but there are a lot of great people thinking about it."

Lee says many Illinois responders went to Louisiana to help care for Katrina patients in 2005 - but he says Illinois has also seen the potential for such emergencies with special needs populations, such as during last spring's Mississippi River flooding.