Responding to Emergencies and Disasters

Client: East-West Gateway Council of Governments


M. Davis and Company, Inc. was contracted to support this study for the East-West Gateway Council of Governments to assess individual and organizational disaster/emergency preparedness in the St. Louis, MO urban area.


The following approach and processes were employed by M. Davis and Company, Inc. and its project partners:

  • Use of networks and established relationships within the disability community: MDAC used its broad networks of service providers for people with disabilities to successfully recruit participants in focus groups of deaf, hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, mobility impairments, and mental health impairments.
  • Demographic research, modeling, and forecasting: MDAC used demographic research using crosstabs and logistic regressions to illustrate the needs of certain population sub-strata. MDAC combined this methodology with geographic mapping to visually present actionable information.
  • Behavioral analysis: MDAC used survey research to assess preparedness behaviors across for the full range of populations, including people with disabilities and access and functional needs.
  • Statistical surveys and survey research/analysis: MDAC employed a statistically significant sample to conduct this survey. For the general population survey, which included a disability oversample, MDAC contacted 9,327 households with a 13.9% response rate. MDAC used a multi-modal approach for this research, using mail surveys, web surveys, telephone follow-ups and focus groups to generate learning regarding preparedness planning and campaign awareness in the St. Louis urban area.
  • Work with and outreach to people with disabilities and/or other vulnerable populations:
    • Part of the study focused on the primary challenges of persons with disabilities and access and functional needs in preparing for emergencies.
    • The study also included a broad representation of persons without a support infrastructure (e.g., advocacy organizations, support groups) in place.
    • Additionally, there was significant outreach to vulnerable populations, including those with limited English proficiency, low income, elderly, and others considered to be at risk during an emergency.
  • Familiarity with disability etiquette: MDAC and Inclusion Research Institute include professionals who are experts in disability etiquette training. All MDAC and IRI staff have undergone training to be sensitive to the needs of working with vulnerable populations.


The study helped the East-West Gateway Council of Governments better understand and quantify the readiness of the general population, persons with disabilities, persons with access and functional needs, along with various types of organizations to better prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters.

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