Residents Relying on
Medical Devices Need to Be Ready
Posted on July 27, 2020
Last October, we all experienced the impact of the rolling public safety power shutoffs that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. implemented to prevent wildfires. While these so-called PSPS events were a huge inconvenience, for Marin's most medically vulnerable residents, they were life threatening.
This year, fire season is an added threat, on top of the daily unknowns and stressors for all of us.
During a PSPS, individuals with access and functional needs (aka AFN residents) lose their lifeline to medical devices such as CPAP breathing machines, oxygen concentrators and powered wheelchairs. These all require a hard-wired power source or are operated by rechargeable batteries. How many people with AFNs live in your community?
Marin's AFN community is significant. It includes people with disabilities, older adults and many other underrepresentedcommunities. Overall, people with AFNs makes up over a third of our county population.
In response to this emerging and critical need, the Marin Center for Independent Living is launching a new initiative in partnership with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, PG&E and MCE Clean Energy, to support our neighbors who rely on electricity to maintain their life and daily needs. Our goal is simple, to ensure that individuals who are dependent on power are able to safely shelter in place during a power shutoff.
Do you know of someone who is medically dependent on power? We want to make sure that they are connected with our resources and we need your help getting the word out to your family members, friends and neighbors.
Our service offerings include:
- Distributing high voltage portable batteries to individuals who require electricity for disability or medical reasons during a PSPS. Those with life-sustaining electrical needs will bepriority.
- Assisting qualified AFN community members in enrolling into the public utility Medical Baseline Program. This program enables individuals who are dependent on power to receive a lower rate on their monthly energy bill and receive advance power shutoff alerts from the utility company.
- Providing webinars to assist community members in developing personalized disaster preparedness plans, evacuation strategies, and disaster toolkits.
- Administering PSPS minigrants for individuals who need assistance covering the costs associated with accessible transportation, lodging and food during a planned power shutoff when a portable battery will not be sufficient.
- Referring eligible community members to local programs that improve Home Health and Energy Efficiency while reducing utility bills via programs administered by MCE and PG&E.
All of these services can be accessed and applied for easily and quickly through our website: MarinCIL.org We are also hosting virtual EmPOWERment Town Hall meetings to prepare the community for PSPS events. The 90-minute online meetings on the Zoom platform are offered on the following dates: Wednesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; Aug 20 and Sept. 22 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The program is offered in Spanish on Aug. 26 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
To expand reach and impact, Marin CIL partners with the Marin County's Health and Human Services Department, the Office of Emergency Services, and Marin's Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. In addition, several other communitybased organizations are assisting us to reach out. However, to truly make an impact, we need you to become a messenger for this essential program. Let's make sure no one is left behind this fire season.
For the past 41 years, Marin Center for Independent Living has supported older adults and people with disabilities with critical services and advocacy to help them live independently in the community. The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the necessity for everyone to safely "shelter in place" and the need for our services has never been greater.
It's all about preparation. We are stronger if we prepare together.
Eli Gelardin is CEO of the Marin Center for Independent Living.
Marin's (device-reliant) community is significant. It includes people with disabilities, older adults and many other underrepresented communities.