Community inclusion


Community inclusion ensures that everyone in Colorado, regardless of who they are, where they are from or how they function in their lives, can benefit from and participate in emergency programs and practices.

At the center of any disaster is the community surviving it. All emergency preparedness and response roles exist to protect and support the lives of people in Colorado. Our systems must be responsive to the diversity of Colorado’s people. Planners and responders must consider the differences in how people communicate, move around, maintain their health and independence, and use services to support their daily lives. Emergency systems should adapt and improve based on who lives in their community.  

For emergency management professionals, this means: 

  • Involving community members in the planning and actualizing of emergency systems in each phase of disaster
  • Anticipating and integrating resources for the community’s access & functional needs during disasters
  • Centering community experiences and outcomes in the evaluation of emergency systems

Resources for Planners

Colorado Community Inclusion Maps (CICOmaps)

Do you know who lives in your community? Do you know what resources are available near the people who need it most?

The Colorado Community Inclusion Maps (CICOmaps) gives a birds-eye view of your communities so that you can better plan for emergencies and disasters.

Get a statewide visualization of:

  • Community organizations

  • Behavioral health and other service providers 

  • Healthcare and childcare facilities 

  • Community demographics and C-MIST characteristics 

  • HHS durable medical equipment emPOWER data 

Training and Exercise

Exercises test emergency plans and systems for points of failure. As a result, exercises present a great opportunity to practice community inclusion and build more effective emergency systems.

With community observers, exercises can educate communities about emergency practices.

With community participation, exercises can educate emergency systems about what makes emergency spaces and operations more accessible and inclusive to the community.  

With community engagement, exercises can point to ways that community and systems can cooperate in the most effective emergency responses.

Access and Functional Needs

Access and Functional Needs is a framework that promotes inclusive preparedness and response. The approach encourages us to assume that everyone will have a need or limitation in an emergency, regardless of who we are. 

The framework replaces disempowering approaches that relied on labels such as "vulnerable populations" and "special needs." 

 The label “vulnerable,” when applied to a population or community group, can be disempowering.  It can imply a weakness that nothing can change, when very often that population is actively solving the challenges of the immediate present. We need the whole community to collaborate for emergency preparedness and response. A more resilient approach includes all people as experts in knowing how to best meet their own needs - community inclusion instead of vulnerable populations.  

Instead of identifying vulnerable groups of people, the access and functional needs approach aims to ensure programmatic, physical and communication access during disasters by recognizing and integrating the different ways that people meet their functional needs in five big areas. 

We should build our systems to support everyone achieve these functions and access.