The ability to creatively respond and collaborate long term with a broad array of community partners, while also protecting vulnerable staff and volunteers, will drive any A1AA disaster response.
Area 1 Agency on Aging (A1AA) is involved in the community disaster preparedness efforts to help ensure the health and safety of older adults and people with disabilities. A1AA is a member of the Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) entities in both Humboldt and Del Norte counties. All A1AA disaster relief efforts will be coordinated with the Office of Emergency Services.
A1AA regularly receives and disseminates safety information briefings, advisories, and updates from CDA-AAA Disaster Assistance Coordinator. During pandemics we include information from our local Public Health Department, CDC and CDA and participate in ongoing meetings to share information with other providers and coordinate services to older adults.
A1AA requires that our subcontracting service providers maintain updated and accurate emergency response plans. The plans must ensure provision of critical services to meet the emergency needs of consumers they are charged to serve during all types of disasters or emergency situations. The plans must include assurances that preparations have been made in the following areas: 1) preparation of the facility to withstand and respond to disaster, 2) training for all staff, volunteers, and participants regarding their role in the agency’s emergency operations plan, 3) fire safety preparations and 4) planning for response to emergencies impacting their ability to provide contracted services.
COVID-19 will continue to exert influence on all A1AA activities and services over the 2021-22 Area Plan cycle. Even as some in-person services may slowly begin to be offered using pre-COVID or hybrid methods, we don’t know when herd immunity will be obtained and must move thoughtfully in the move back towards “normal.” Some older adults will continue to desire and need alternative service methodologies via phone, email, or zoom type meetings. We plan to continue to offer appropriate services remotely, even when we open our offices to the public. A1AA will continue to monitor for emergent needs so we can quickly adapt as needed. A1AA is currently assessing the pros and cons of reopening offices to the public and working with local providers to assess how they can best provide services in 2021-22.
COVID-19 put our community into a state of constant response and in this process, we have established ongoing coordination and support networks with local governmental jurisdictions, food providers, philanthropic service groups and foundations, health care and social services, economic development organizations, etc. We will continue coordination efforts for the foreseeable future which will enable us to come together more quickly for any natural or human made disasters. We will continue to work and advocate on the state and federal levels to ensure flexibility in federal and state funding to meet emergent and critical needs.