In the rush to get out of the house and to a safer place, many Southern California residents or their loved ones were separated from their wheelchairs, medication or other medical supplies during the fire evacuations.
Many residents have had to cope away from home when in some instances home provided such special accommodations as wheelchair ramps, a hospital bed or easy-to-reach prescriptions. Healthcare and disaster relief officials say that about 20% of the state's population lives with some form of disability.
The first step for disabled residents or caregivers after evacuating:
Contact or visit your local disaster relief service centers, such as the American Red Cross or Salvation Army, to notify them about your special needs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends. The agencies try to provide whatever medication or equipment anyone needs on site.
If you need medication:
If possible, get in touch with your doctor's office. Pharmacies usually honor telephone or fax orders if they come from the healthcare provider.
If your regular drugstore is part of a national or large regional chain, go to one of their branches in your new location. Your prescription information should appear in the chain's computer database. If you have pill bottles, take those to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to fill the prescription or to give you enough medication until you can seek medical advice in your new location.
If you need equipment such as walkers, canes or wheelchairs:
One option available throughout the state involves the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers. The foundation membership includes a total of 29 independent living centers in various communities. The centers can provide medical equipment, mental health assistance or referrals to other healthcare agencies.
To find a center, visit www.cfilc.org or call (916) 325-1690. Anyone with a hearing impairment can call (916) 325-1695. The centers serve people with all types of disabilities and, with some exceptions, do not charge.
If you can't make it to an independent living center:
A state hotline exists to help residents get in touch with the right healthcare agency for their medical needs. Call the Assistive Technology Network Information and Referral Line at (800) 390-2699 or, for the hearing impaired, (800) 900-0706. Operators are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.