Continuing our series of blog posts about organizations that will be featured at the Massachusetts Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council’s (WRHSAC) Whole Community Preparedness Summit on May 22nd, 2013, today’s spotlight is on Mass 2-1-1.
According to their website, 2-1-1 is the national abbreviated dialing code for citizens to find information about health and human services programs. Within the Commonwealth there are literally thousands of phone numbers for these programs run by government offices, community organizations, volunteer referral centers, donation clearinghouses, educational systems and neighborhood groups. Mass 2-1-1 makes that critical connection between individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities and the appropriate community-based organization and/or government agency. One of the best features of Mass 2-1-1 is the fact that it is accessible. There is a TTY (Text Telephone) number for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing at 508-370-4890, and multilingual operators are available.
After a disaster has occurred, this number (which operates 24/7) cannot only be used by citizens seeking to navigate the maze of social services, but could also be a fantastic resource for emergency services personnel who need to quickly find assistance for members of their community who have access or functional needs. Interestingly, the new Functional Needs Support Services (FNSS) Standard Operating Guide (SOG) developed by the WRHSAC, specifically notes that officials could turn to either the Mass 2-1-1 website, or call if they can’t easily find the service they looking for. The multilingual operators, for instance, could be a huge asset alone.
The Mass 2-1-1 site has many resources including an Emergency/Disaster Preparedness section, compiled in partnership with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, that offers great tips for families to keep safe in a dangerous situation, including, for example:
Find out more about the Mass 2-1-1 program and how it relates to disaster planning and response by attending the Whole Community Preparedness Summit, where Debra Cheney, Assistant Emergency Manager, will be speaking in Break Out Session 2: Strengthening What Works on a Daily Basis.