The usual approach to delivering emergency services does not always provide the essential services for that portion of the population requiring special needs. This population may represent those people that are physically or mentally disabled, medically or chemically dependent, elderly, children, homeless, and non-English speakers. Recent disasters demonstrate that traditional response agencies are often ill equipped to respond to the special needs of our vulnerable populations. Following the Loma Prieta earthquake (October 1989) in the San Francisco area and the Northridge earthquake in the Los Angeles area (January 1994), emergency services professionals became painfully aware that the traditional response and recovery systems were not able to successfully satisfy all the human needs. The usual approach to delivering emergency services does not always provide the essential services for that portion of the population requiring special needs. . . the vulnerable population.
Given the high potential for future catastrophic disasters throughout the US, it is imperative to establish an emergency protocol and plan for delivering services to people with language, cultural, and accessibility needs. The vulnerable population is usually associated with Community Based Organizations (CBOs). CBOs are local organizations (usually non-profit) serving the needs of specific populations within the community. CBOs bring unique expertise in delivering services to people with special needs. The challenge for emergency management professionals is to integrate the CBO's skill and knowledge into the emergency services plans and strategy, thus connecting them to local government. This enhances the response and recovery efforts to our vulnerable populations. The Triad Alliance provides that essential participation and linkage.