Featured News Help for people with disabilities in cyclone zones

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Wed, 16 Aug 2017

Help for people with disabilities in cyclone zones

Cyclone damage in Prosperine
Cyclone damage in Prosperine. Image: Yetta Gurtner

A James Cook University researcher wants to make it easier for people with disabilities to cope with cyclones – and she needs Queenslanders’ help to do that.

JCU’s Jenny Quaill said people with disabilities are at greater risk of injury or death during natural disasters.

“In our region, natural disasters generally mean cyclones, and we know that people impaired by neurological conditions face significant challenges in keeping themselves and their property safe during tropical cyclones,” she said.

Ms Quaill said apart from the obvious dangers, cyclones may affect access to carers, medication, medical services and power to run medical equipment.

“Even if people with disabilities are evacuated to a shelter, their needs may not be well-catered for in that environment,” she said.

Ms Quaill will be taking leave from her job as Assistant Director of Physiotherapy at Gold Coast Health to talk to people in areas struck by severe tropical cyclones Yasi and Debbie.

“For a week from Saturday 19th August I will be travelling through the areas hardest hit by the cyclones - Tully, Mission Beach, Cardwell, Townsville, Bowen, Airlie Beach, Prosperine and Mackay. I’ll be doing as many face-to-face interviews as possible. The information will be used to improve disaster planning for people with disabilities,” she said.

Ms Quaill wants to talk to anyone in those areas with neurological conditions such as stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, MS, or Parkinson’s disease, as well as people with vision or hearing impairment.

“I’ll be interviewing people about their experiences before, during and after Yasi and Debbie, in the hope we can learn where the gaps are and do things better in the future. I’ll also be asking about what they did to keep themselves safe to see if we can improve that area too,” she said.

The interviews will take around an hour and are strictly confidential. They can be conducted by phone, Skype, or face-to-face at a venue of your choice.

If you would like to help out, please get in touch with Jenny Quaill
on 0447 299 304
or email jennifermaree.quaill@my.jcu.edu.au

Images here

All images are of damage caused by Cyclone Debbie in Prosperine. Please credit Yetta Gurtner.


Jenny Quaill
M: 0447 299 304
E: jennifermaree.quaill@my.jcu.edu.au