Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security (D.P.S.)


Division of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security

First Advisor

Brian Harte

Second Advisor

Bernard Jones

Third Advisor

Joan Tropnas


Background: While all populations are susceptible to certain hazards that may expose their vulnerabilities in a disaster, populations with no or limited English proficiency, sight limitations, and hearing limitations are especially at risk due to communication and language barriers that they consistently experience. Purpose: This study explored the sufficiency of emergency planning that vulnerable populations with communication barriers may receive in a New York City hospital setting. It investigated the emergency plans, procedures, and practices that hospitals have for these specific, at-risk populations. The sufficiency of these were measured in accordance with their ability to meet the appropriate regulatory standards in existence. By collecting demographic information and characteristics about the hospitals participating, this study tested correlations between these variables with the levels of emergency planning these populations are provided with while in these hospitals. Methods: This mixed-methods study attained valuable information on these areas by surveying and interviewing a population of NYC hospital Emergency Preparedness Coordinators (EPC’s), from a sufficient representation of independent and healthcare systems hospitals; publicly and privately owned; located in different NYC boroughs; and with and without Emergency Departments. Findings: The results of this study draw our attention to the disparities in emergency and resiliency planning for these underserved populations with communication barriers through a rigorous analysis of the various levels of pre-planning they are afforded before a disaster strikes in a hospital facility setting. The presence of a vulnerability characteristic, as well as type of vulnerability characteristic, were found to have effects on the level of sufficiency of emergency planning they may receive in hospitals. The qualitative results also provided an overview of the challenges associated with this type of specialized planning, as well as suggested practices to achieve it. Conclusions: The results of this study should have implications for all emergency management personnel in hospital facilities in terms of enhancing their planning to sufficiently address the needs of vulnerable populations in their emergency planning. Future research should seek to evaluate the sufficiency of the rigor and specificity of the requirements set forth by accrediting bodies for addressing the needs of vulnerable populations in emergency planning.

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