For the past decade, America has grown quiet and somber on this anniversary, remembering the shock and horror of September 11, 2001. Like those who were alive when Kennedy was shot, people tend to remember every detail of that day in their lives. Parts of that fateful morning live with each of us still.
Going forward, 9-11 (as it has come to be known) should continue to transform our thought. There are particular pieces of that event that should change the way we address special needs forever. I can recall having a son who was a mere 1 year and 5 months old with a serious chronic illness. His life depended on critical clotting factor to keep him alive. Because air transportation was halted for days after this tragic event, just-in-time delivery of vital pharmaceuticals was turned on its head. Thankfully, it changed the way our treatment center viewed having medication on hand. We are far better prepared today because of that response.
Like checking smoke detectors at daylight savings time, perhaps 9-11 is a good anniversary to remind each of us in special needs ministry to review our emergency preparedness. Back in June, I wrote a devotional addressing this issue for our parents at Comfort In the Midst of Chaos. There I share some fabulous resources specially designed for the disability community. In particular, everyone in our area of service should be working towards improvement, asking themselves, “In an emergency…”
- Do I have adequate first aid supplies on hand?
- Do I have a plan to evacuate the building?
- What if I can’t reach the parents or family?
- Do I have items to calm my participants in the event of an emergency?
- Do I have any sort of relationship with first responders that make them familiar with our program?
- Am I up-to-date on my participants’ medical instructions?
- Do I require an emergency medical bag be on hand for my participants?
- What would I do if one or several of my participants become hysterical in an emergency?
In special needs ministry it is safe to say, “Expect the unexpected.” That is just the nature of the community we serve. However, wise steps, taken ahead of time can make things go much smoother in a crisis. While we should never forget the tragedy of 9-11, neither should we disregard the lessons it can teach us to make us better servants in the care of God’s precious people.