This Best of Best Practice aims to keep people with disabilities healthy, safe, and independent through timely and innovative preparedness courses and materials.

The unique disaster-related needs of people with disabilities are the central themes with continuing education courses being developed by theResearch and Training Center on Independent Living (RTC/IL) in partnership with theKansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The atmosphere of a one-on-one classroom setting with an instructor and students is hard to replace, yet online courses are finding their educational niche.

RTC/IL's online courses have been very well received by course participants, improved knowledge of participants and are also cost effective. According to KDHE, "On average, the total cost savings for each participant taking the online course versus the live course was $326.49, with an average $120.75 savings in salaries and benefits and an average $205.74 savings in travel expense reimbursements."

Significance of the Problem

When disaster strikes, everyone is at risk of injuries and death. Yet, research has found that people with disabilities face greater risk of serious injury, loss of independent and even death due to disasters. The best line of defense is to be prepared. Preparedness makes sense for everyone, but doubly so for high risk populations.

Best Practice

To address these issues, RTC/IL developed several free, on-line continuing education courses and supporting materials which are offered on the TRAIN Internet system managed by KDHE. The target audiences for these courses are health and safety personnel, persons charged with emergency management duties, staff of organizations serving vulnerable populations and people with disabilities. The course name, number, curriculum developer, and course description are listed below.

The Prepared LifeStyle, Part 1 (course number 1032885). FREE. By Cat Howland. This unique one-hour introductory/ intermediate course is on public health threats, characteristics of pandemics and risk factors of public health threats to people with disabilities.

The Prepared LifeStyle, Part 2 (course number pending). FREE. By Cat Howland. This one-hour course is on specific seasonal and pandemic flu prevention and preparedness plans.

Planning for Disaster-Related Risks and Functional Needs for People with Disabilities: Train-The-Trainer (course #1026720). FREE. By Cat Howland. This 75 minute course covers seven risk factors associated with disasters and the health and safety of people with disabilities and how to prepare accordingly. Once successfully taken the instructor may use the the core curriculum and course material.

Planning for Disaster-Related Risks and Functional Needs for People with Disabilities (course #1026403) FREE. By Cat Howland. This is a one-hour course is the same course as above but with out the trainer-the-trainer component.

Ready, Willing, & Able (course #1020884). FREE. By Becca Goodin Gagliano. A two-hour introduction on disability etiquette, terminology, communication methods and evacuation tips to assist people with physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities.

This course was selected as a best public health practice to enhance emergency preparedness and response ( The reviewer was impressed with several aspects of the course and stated, "Setting aside two hours for the online course may be a challenge for members of the target audiences. The information is noteworthy, however, because it educates participants about personal assumptions and beliefs while providing them with specific information they can use to build trust and collaboration with people who have disabilities."

Animal Emergency Preparedness: How to Keep Your Service Animals and Pets Safe in Natural and Manmade Disasters (course #1025307). FREE. By Valerie A. Renault. A one-hour introductory course on how to prepare for service animals and pets in the event of a disaster, and what to expect after a disaster. It covers easy to follow preparedness tips and relates the importance with animal rescue stories.

These courses are supported by the Bureau of Community Health Systems, KDHE, and through grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hospital Preparedness Program.


To have access to the courses, persons outside of Kansas go and Kansans ( to establish a free account by completing the online registration form. Once an account is established enter the course number in appropriate box (KS-TRAIN it is under the State seal) to take the course at any time. Once learners have completed the course and successfully passed the post-test, they can print off a certificate of completion for their records from their TRAIN home page.

Here are instructions for KS-TRAIN learners.

TRAIN (TrainingFinder Real-time Affiliate Integrated Network) is affiliated with a nationwide training network to offer premier learning resources for professionals who protect the public's health and safety.  It is a free service of the Public Health Foundation. TRAIN has a working network of 23 affiliate states plus the Medical Reserve Corp and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.


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