September 19, 2014

Medina
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Database to help special needs, elderly residents in emergencies

MEDINA — Last year when Superstorm Sandy hit Ohio on Oct. 29, torrential rains and high winds downed trees and power lines, leaving more than a quarter million Ohioans without electricity.

While power outages that often accompany natural disasters are an inconvenience for most people, they can be life-threatening for the elderly and disabled who often are dependent on equipment powered by electricity.

Because time is crucial in those situations, the Medina County Emergency Management Agency is using a new computer program, called SavingMinutes, to build a database of residents with special needs.

The database will allow police, firefighters and other first responders to access potentially lifesaving information about who needs special help and where they live.

The program is voluntary — the residents provide the information.

“Functional or special needs residents that fill out the information will allow first responders to react and make decisions regarding the resident when minutes matter,” said Christina Fozio, spokeswoman for the agency.

Those eligible to sign up for SavingMinutes include senior citizens, residents with impaired mobility and other disabilities, those on oxygen or dependent on respiratory or other machines powered by electricity and non-English speaking residents.

Fazio said SavingMinutes allows first responders to know which residents need more help and exactly what kind.

Residents can register and provide their information by going to the agency’s website, www.ema.co.medina.oh.us.

The agency also has paper copies of the forms available from many local agencies, including the Red Cross, Medina Hospital, Medina County Home, Alternative Paths and the Medina County Health Department.

For help filing out the forms, email mcema@medinaco.org or call (330) 722-9240.

Fazio said only the residents can change the information in the database. Those registering will be given a password.

“You can provide as little or as much information as you would like,” she said. “Not everything on the form must be filled out.”

More information about SavingMinutes, which was developed by Strongsville company Bartley Technologies, is available at www.savingminutes.com.

Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.