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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Fredericton disaster response registry sees low response – New Brunswick

Fewer than 10 people have signed up for Fredericton’s High Priority Disaster Response Registry, six years after the program began.

“The goal of it was to help identify individuals that may need assistance or special assistance during a time of disaster,” Fredericton Fire Department Chief Dwayne Killingbeck said.

That includes people with physical or cognitive disabilities, who don’t understand English or who need electricity for equipment they rely on to live.

But Killingbeck said the program became less of a priority because of COVID-19. As of Monday, eight people had signed up.

Shelley Petit, the chair of the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, said she’s never heard of the registry in the six years since it started.

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“We’ve had floods during that time, we’ve had apartment buildings on fire. So it’s unfortunate that it existed and we don’t know about it,” she said.

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Killingbeck said the city’s age-friendly community advisory committee brought the lack of awareness of the program back to the city’s attention.

“It’s important for us to know who is vulnerable so we can reach out to them and do welfare checks,” he said.

Madeleine Gaudet, the president of Stepping Stone Senior Centre, said the pandemic highlighted the need to support isolated people.

“Someone’s isolated and there’s a disaster happening around you, who will know? Who will know who they are, who will know where they are?” said Gaudet, who represents the senior centre at the committee.

Petit says the program could be life-saving for people with disabilities.

“If you’re deaf, and your hearing aids are out, and you do not have the flashing system, you do not know that there’s even a fire until it’s probably too late,” she said.

Petit is concerned that so few people know about the registry when people with disabilities make up over one-third of New Brunswick’s population.

“Now that we know it exists, we’re absolutely going to share it with our members and say, ‘Please, get yourself registered,’” she said.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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