Special Needs Registration

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, have created "Register Ready - New Jersey's Special Needs Registry for Disasters," a free, voluntary and confidential web-based program designed to assist people with special needs who may find it difficult to get to safety in the event of an emergency.

The State's private-sector partner is this initiative is the Delta Development Group Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvanis. Delta's "Total Visibility" software application provides the infrastructure for the web-based registry system.

People with special needs (or caregivers on their behalf) are encouraged to register electronically, if possible, by accessing the website. Alternatively, they can call New Jersey's toll-free 2-1-1 telephone service. This service will register people, offer free translation, and provide TTY services for the hearing-impaired. Paper registration forms are also available.

How the Registry is Used
Emergency management officials often view special needs registry development and maintenance from varying perspectives, ranging from concerns about the need for expectations management to an increased sense of confidence about being able to track individuals in their communities who require specific assistance during adverse conditions.

Registries can also become a focal point for building a dialogue about emergency preparedness with individuals who have special needs or establishing a rapport with stakeholder groups who work with at-risk populations.

"Registries are a great tool to help emergency management officials enhance services to community members," explains Major Jerome Hatfield "but they are not the only tool. Planning, emphasis on personal preparedness, and the engagement of stakeholder groups who work with special needs populations are also essential tasks aimed at building a program which serves vulnerable populations."