The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Receive Emergency Training
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The deaf and hard of hearing community is receiving lifesaving training. It's the first of its kind across the state and teaches participants how to respond during an emergency.
Imagine if a tornado siren meant to keep people safe from danger, to you never made a sound.
"And so there's no way to know what's going on," participant Colleen Turner said.
During the 2010 flood Turner couldn't contact her pregnant daughter.
"Power was out I can't use my phone," she remembers. "I can't use the land line. I can't depend on TV."
The communication problems are intensified during emergencies because Turner is hard of hearing.
"We ended up getting in a boat to get her out of the condo."
That experience almost four years ago is what brought her to Bridges, formerly the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, on Saturday morning.
"The community needs to know as a whole what to do during any sort of emergency," Heidi Mariscal with Metro's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said. "That doesn't matter if you hear or if you don't hear, if you know the language (or) if you don't know the language. There shouldn't be any barrier."
Although OEM has been providing the Community Emergency Response Team training for the past decade, it's the first of its kind offered to the deaf and hard of hearing community in the state.
"This is a need for the deaf and hard of hearing," Bridges Case Manager Donicé Kaufman said. "They are the most ignored and overlooked group."
Saturday, participants learned how to turn off utilities, create an emergency plan and provide care to those who are injured. They're skills that can help save lives.
"They're becoming a part of the solution as opposed to being a part of the problem," Kaufman added.
They're are also becoming more empowered. When asked how learning these new skills made her feel, Colleen Turner simply replied, "Good, great, great!"
Next week participants will learn about fire safety, search and rescue. Through this experience, agencies are also learning how to better help the deaf and hard of hearing community.
They hope similar classes will be offered across the state.
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.