Summary of Effective Communication in an Emergency on December 10 2016

On Saturday, December 10, 2016 from 10 am to 12 pm, the deaf presenter, Emily Jo Noschese who works for the Department of Health, Disability and Communication Access Board. She gave the workshop in Hilo that contained effective communication with the police, emergency medical services, and fire departments in the event of an emergency. At the training room, more than 30 people listened to her presentation. This audience were mostly deaf locals, parents, hearing people, children, police, ASL interpreters from Oahu and the Big Island, ADA coordinator, ADA Recreation Specialist and more. This was co-sponsored by the Big Island Association of the Deaf and Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC).

First, the most important part of this presentation was about contact with the police. Emily wanted to make sure that the knowledge about this subject, police interaction, was for everyone. Here are tips for your effective communication with the police in the event of an emergency;
  • Stay calm. Waving your arms will make everyone nervous.
  • Never touch police
  • Make eye contact with police.
  • Requiring an ASL interpreter in writing is very important. 
  • Turn on a car interior light when it's dark.
  • Never sign papers without a lawyer and an ASL interpreter! It is important to wait until an ASL interpreter and a lawyer arrive.
  • Get an ASL interpreter who is neutral and certified.
  • Make clear question to police; can I leave now? 
  • To avoid problems; get a Deaf Visor Card from the Big Island Association of the Deaf. See the pictures below. 

Front side of Deaf Visor Card

Back side of Deaf Visor Card
One ASL interpreter said she always gets a message from deaf clients, but misses the contact with the police. She has gotten only one contact from the police in the 3 years she has lived on the Big Island. The Big Island Police also have busy schedules and try to add deaf culture into this schedule.

The second subject was about your effective communication with the fire department in the event of an emergency. The presenter made clear that you don't call up from the home where the fire is happening. When there is fire at home, use your family or /and friends for an "interpreter". She checked the available of a fire alarm in the training room. This is also deaf friendly fire alarm. The Red Cross for the Big Island provided fire alarms to people but this project stopped because of insufficient volunteers. In addition, Oahu gives free fire alarms and installations to deaf people.

Finally, here is a simple list for your effective communication with the emergency medical services in the event of an emergency. Always bring paper for communication. It can save your life.

Calling 911

Remember; every situation is unique. 
Serious medical condition card/bracelet
Allergies card/ bracelet
Who lives with you
Deaf Visor Card
Put your ID on your smart phone

Questions they will ask ;
medical history (if known)
any medications taken (if known)
They will ask you the same thing: Medical history and Medications
Write it down ahead of time
Show the medical card
Not usual to have interpreters right away


Request ASAP so the interpreters can be ready at the hospital


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