Special needs registry supports tailored care

By D. Anthony Botkin - [email protected]

Delaware County’s “Special Needs Registry” allows emergency first responders to tailor the care of residents who have special medical needs.

“There are 900 entries in the registry,” said Sean Miller, director of emergency management.

The idea of a registry came to battalion chief Bill Piwtorak, at the time a captain with the Liberty Township fire department, in 2004.

“It started as a conversation in the check-out line of Kroger with a mom who had a special needs child,” said Piwtorak.

With the thought of this being only one case in the township, Piwtorak said he began to think, “Who else would need a tailored response?”

Piwtorak said Liberty Township identified 27 homes possibly in need some sort of tailored response in 2004.

“There are well over one-hundred today,” Piwtorak said.

In 2004, Liberty Township looked at outside areas for a model. They didn’t find one in Ohio and had to look further out. “We were first in Ohio to have a registry,” Piwtorak said.

Piwtorak and Liberty Township, looking at the bigger picture, shared the idea with the county. “We talked with the county and showed them the benefits of having a registry,” Piwtorak said. “It all just fell in line.”

Piwtorak said the registry plays a large part during natural disaster.

“To me the need greatly increases if there is a disaster,” Piwtorak said. “Tornado’s could wipe-out a neighborhood.”

“What’s unique in Delaware County is some personnel can be assigned and sent to those with special needs issues in disasters.” said Piwtorak. “Like getting someone in a wheelchair out of a collapsed house.”

Piwtorak said, “My biggest fear is the flooding of the two rivers.”

The Special Needs Registry and the tailored level of response was adopted countywide in 2010, said Sean Miller, director of emergency management for Delaware County.

Miller said Delaware County’s registry is unique to other registries. “It’s incorporated into the 911 dispatch,” he said. “The website was designed in-house.”

Miller said the 911 system will indicate to dispatchers when a call is from a special needs resident. The dispatchers can then notify the response team to look up the resident’s history and needs on a mobile data device.

Miller said it’s important to know a resident’s medical history ahead of arriving — some patients might be “sensitive to “lights and sounds.”

Residents with any special needs may go to the website to register. “The website is HIPAA protected and residents must sign a release,” Miller said.

Miller said the biggest problem the county has with the website is having current information on residents.

Miller said the county emails notices to registrants to update information once a year.

However, Miller is asking registrants to update their information regularly.

The registry can be found at http://www.delcospecialneeds.com/.

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.