For Access and Functional Needs

From the NJOEM website:

Emergency Management Resources For Individuals with Access/Functional Needs and the Organizations Which Serve Them

Access/Functional Needs

These individuals typically reside in single homes or multiple family dwellings in the State and are not residents of hospitals, residential health care facilities, or any community-based residences or services that are already subject to emergency planning requirements.If your family member resides in a congregate or institutionalized setting, please consult with agency management regarding their preparedness and disaster plans.
Many community members can benefit from specialized preparedness plans and will need additional assistance if there is an emergency. They may have disabilities; chronic medical conditions; lack transportation; be elderly; be unaccompanied children; come from other cultures; have limited English proficiency or non-English speaking; or be transportation disadvantaged.

Information for different people and purposes

We have organized this section of the NJOEM website into several sections for easier navigation.

Functional Needs - Definition

The NJOEM uses the National Response Framework definition of “functional needs” because a function-based definition, instead of the "special needs" label, reflects the capabilities of the individual, not the condition, label or medical diagnosis. 
Before, during, and after an incident, individuals with access and functional needs areas:

  • Maintaining independence - Individuals requiring support to be independent in daily activities may lose this support during an emergency or a disaster. This support may include supplies, durable medical equipment, and attendants or caregivers.
  • Communication - Individuals who have limitations that interfere with the receipt of and response to information will need that information provided in methods they can understand and use. They may not be able to hear verbal announcements, see directional signs, or understand how to get assistance all because of hearing, vision, speech, cognitive, or intellectual limitations, and/or limited English proficiency. This support may include interpreters, translators, hearing aids, message board
  • Transportation - Individuals who cannot drive or who do not have a vehicle may require transportation support for successful evacuation. This support may include accessible vehicles (e.g., lift-equipped or vehicles suitable for transporting individuals who use oxygen) or information about how and where to access mass transportation during an evacuation.
  • Supervision - Before, during, and after an emergency individuals may lose the support of caregivers, family, or friends or may be unable to cope in a new environment (particularly if they have dementia, Alzheimer’s or psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia or intense anxiety). If separated from their caregivers, young children may be unable to identify themselves; and when in danger, they may lack the cognitive ability to assess the situation and react appropriately.
  • Medical care - Individuals who are not self-sufficient or who do not have adequate support from caregivers, family, or friends may need assistance with: managing unstable, terminal or contagious conditions that require observation and ongoing treatment; managing intravenous therapy, tube feeding, and vital signs; receiving dialysis, oxygen, and suction administration; managing wounds; and operating power dependent equipment to sustain life. These individuals require support of trained medical professionals.

NJOEM’s commitment to “Whole Community Planning”

The NJOEM is committed to whole-community planning: emergency planning that involves entire communities and not just government agencies. By including the full spectrum of people and organizations represented in a community, emergency planning will account for the needs of all communities’ members, regardless of their personal circumstances or abilities. We include individuals with functional needs, advocates and human service providers in all phases of the emergency management process - mitigation, preparedness, response and recover. There is nothing “special” about insuring everyone can access mass care shelters, understand emergency information, evacuate safely or receive recovery information. Whole-community planning is something we practice as a normal course of business, because every life matters.

If you have further questions or concerns, you may also contact Mary Goepfert, NJOEM AFN Liaison, at 609-963-6818,, or visit the NJ GAINED Web page ).