Special Needs? Medically Fragile? Planning Ahead for an Emergency Evacuation

Person pushing a stretcher into an ambulance

Emergencies are heart pounding, often dangerous situations requiring immediate action. These unexpected, serious situations happen with some frequency.

Living on a barrier island leaves us particularly vulnerable putting us on the edge fearing named storms, tornadoes and flooding. 

Considering we have only two ways of getting out of the path of these potential seasonal disasters, we have to have a plan when circumstances do not favor us. 

Coordinating resources to meet catastrophic situations takes a great deal of planning, thought and cooperation across many levels of skilled personnel.

As citizens, we rely on town officials and county administrators to plan for our safety.

That said, it is incumbent on each of us to know how to prepare ourselves and avoid being part of the problem.

This is often more challenging to those with special medical needs. This article outlines steps that will help us be prepared when the mayor declares a mandatory evacuation of the island.

Here’s What You Can Do

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Notify authorities of your special needs and if you need transportation in an evacuation.   Keep a list of your special needs and share them with emergency responders or the personnel in charge of the evacuation.  The Pine Knoll Shores Fire Department provides ‘File of Life’ documents that can be filled out ahead of time with contact information and medication details; it is recommended you keep this on your refrigerator for last minute needs.
  3. Prepare an emergency kit. This should be your ‘ready kit.’  At a minimum it should Include essential medications, spare batteries, oxygen tanks, or mobility aids.
  4. Wear medical identification. Wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a card that clearly states your medical condition, allergies, and any other critical information.
  5. Communicate with caregivers. Keep family and caregivers informed about the situation and coordinate your actions.
  6. Follow instructions. Pay close attention to instructions provided by emergency personnel.
  7. Advocate for your needs. If you feel that your specific medical needs are not being adequately addressed, speak up.

Notify County Personnel. Do Not Delay.

The county coordinates with Pine Knoll Shores Police/Fire in the evacuation of individuals needing transportation assistance to and from a designated emergency shelter, and for those requiring health or medical considerations to the Medically Fragile Shelter.

Health/medical considerations include assistance with mobility, oxygen, routine medication administration, routine health monitoring, routine health monitoring, etc. 

To take advantage of these services requires proper registration.

The form is available on the Carteret County website at Medically Fragile Registration Form.  This link also details how notification will be made, suggestions of what to bring with you and where to mail your application. 

NOTE: Proper registration requires that newest registration forms be filled out completely. Forms that are not filled out completely, are not current, or from other programs will be returned.   

Residents requiring greater levels of assistance than can be provided by this County service, such as a hospital bed, hemodialysis, life support equipment, IV chemotherapy, full ventilator, etc., are advised to make alternative plans with the assistance of a physician or health care professional.

Final Thoughts

Be aware that… 

  • Individuals residing in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities are not eligible for this County program. 
  • Registration must be renewed each year. 
  • Only one caregiver per registrant is permitted. 
  • Only service animals (e.g., Guide Dogs) are allowed at the shelter. 

If you need to reach County personnel in Emergency Services with specific questions, call 252-222-5841.

Remember, the exact procedures and protocols for emergency evacuations can vary depending on the situation and location. It’s crucial to stay informed about emergency plans, evacuation routes, and local resources specific to your area. 

Consider discussing your emergency preparedness plans with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized evacuation strategy based on your medical needs.


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