Recent disasters have shown the vulnerability of people with disabilities, but Coloradan Anita Cameron is working to change that. Cameron, 47, has taught Community Emergency Response Team training since 2005. CERT educates citizens about disaster preparedness and the skills needed when disaster strikes.
Cameron specializes in stress management, which she says is vital early in a disaster. “In most cases, it’s the CERTs who are doing things until the first responders can get there,” says Cameron, who has congenital cerebellar ataxia. “For people with disabilities it’s definitely important to prepare because often times we’re not even on the radar.” She says CERT training saves lives when people are hesitant to seek assistance during a disaster. She has recruited over 20 CERTs with disabilities, hoping it leads to better education of first responders. “Often first responders are not trained to deal with people with disabilities,” she says. “Or if they are, they want to take over.”
Disaster preparedness isn’t expensive or complicated, says Cameron, and can even be fun. Reaching people with that message makes teaching CERT worthwhile for her. “When people realize that and they get it, that gives me satisfaction,“ she says.