Emergency Management Team Goes "All-In" with My Diabetes Emergency Plan

By Beauty Kolenc

According to the most recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29.1 million people in the United States are living with diabetes. This number continues to rise every year. In addition, the CDC reports that an estimated 86 million American adults aged 20 years or older have pre-diabetes. The startling number of patients affected by this disease is serious cause for concern among emergency management teams across the country.

Any emergency brings chaos to people and their environments, particularly those with chronic diseases like diabetes. It is vital that they – and those in the community who are charged with their care – are prepared for emergency situations in advance. The My Diabetes Emergency Plan ensures that safety.

Initially conceived by the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) in partnership with Lilly Diabetes following the devastating chaos of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the My Diabetes Emergency Plan is a comprehensive resource for endocrine patients who find themselves in crises. From roadside breakdowns in the middle of nowhere to unexpected evacuations and natural disasters, a well-prepared emergency kit is of paramountimportance for patients with diabetes and their families.

The My Diabetes Emergency Plan program is now in its eighth year, giving communities across the nation a valuable tool to help citizens assemble comprehensive emergency kits of their own.

The plan has three components: A pocket-sized checklist, an instructional “how-to” video and an educational website. The 17-point checklist – available in English and Spanish versions – outlines everything a person with diabetes would need in a kit to avoid potentially life- threatening disruptions in their medical care. It also offers diabetes patients practical steps to take in advance of an emergency...before they’re faced with a difficult situation. Checklists are provided free of charge to patients and emergency management personnel, as well as other public servants involved with diabetes patient care.

The “how-to” video provides real-life examples of the various elements patients should include in their kits and can be viewed by visiting: www.mydiabetesemergencyplan.com.

In southwest Houston, Texas, the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management has been putting the My Diabetes Emergency Plan to use in it's community for more than two years. Kathy Renfrow, the county’s emergency management planning coordinator, discovered it at a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walk and knew that the plan would be beneficial to her community.

“They fit so well with the theme of our other emergency preparedness information—to ‘Make a Plan, Build a Kit and Stay Informed.’ The fact that they are wallet-sized ensures that people can easily share the information,” said Renfrow.

The U.S. is one of the top five countries in the world affected by unforeseen emergencies, according to the Annual Disaster Statistical Review by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. Each year, Fort Bend County’s 500,000 residents live with flash floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. The Emergency Management department has distributed thousands of copies of the pocket-sized cards thus far.

Renfrow says that Fort Bend County includes the My Diabetes Emergency Plan checklists in displays at health fairs, at local community centers and workshops. The community also features the pocket cards during its disaster preparedness events year-round and has the plan available in the office lobby for first responders to pick up.

“Many times I’ve witnessed family members picking up one of the My Diabetes Emergency Plan cards and saying they needed to give it to a loved one,” said Renfrow. “It gives them a sense of relief knowing they can provide some concrete preparedness information ahead of an emergency.”

If you are interested in receiving your own copy of the My Diabetes Emergency Plan, visit www.mydiabetesemergencyplan.com to request a free durable, wallet-sized, trifold checklist and to view the “how-to” video.