The holiday period is a time when SA’s usual services may be on a break (unlike VIVA Mutual, we’re open 24/7 over the Dec/Jan holidays and, like any other time of the year, emergencies can arise. For South Australians with disabilities, knowing who to contact in an emergency is crucial.
This article provides a comprehensive guide to resources and contacts for emergency assistance during the 2023/24 holiday season.
Emergency Preparedness: Planning Ahead
Being prepared for an emergency is vital. Ensure you have a plan that includes:
– A list of emergency contacts
– Details of your disability and/or medical condition and required medications
– A plan for evacuation, if necessary
– Battery backups for essential medical or mobility devices
– List of trusted people and organisations to contact if you need support
– Sufficient supplies of food, medications, important consumables and so forth, to take into account the public holidays and changes in routine over this time
– Ask people you trust to check in on you regularly, like a quick phone call at the same time every day, or an SMS, or arrange to have a coffee or chat so you’re up to date with all that’s going on in your community.
Stay updated with the latest news and emergency alerts through:
- South Australian Government Emergency Services Website: Regular updates on emergencies across the state
- Local News Outlets: They often provide updates on emergencies and available services, these can be the TV, radio and also, and local social media pages and platforms
- People: Keep in touch with your circle of support, like family, friends, support workers and providers.
Emergency Contacts: Your First Line of Contact in an Emergency
In any emergency, the first point of contact should always be the standard emergency services:
- Triple Zero (000): For immediate medical help, fire services, or police assistance, Triple Zero is the universal emergency number in Australia. When calling, be clear and calm, and provide your location and nature of the emergency.
- National Relay Service (NRS): If you require hearing or speech support, the NRS can assist you in contacting emergency services. Dial 106 for a text-based relay service.
- State Emergency Service (SES): For assistance with natural disaster responses, such as floods or storms, contact the SES at 132 500.
Healthcare and Medical Assistance
During the holidays, some regular healthcare services might have altered schedules (and again, not VIVA Mutual’s Home Nursing service, we’re open 24/7). Here are other services available:
- After-Hours GP Helpline: If you need non-emergency medical advice, the After-Hours GP Helpline (1800 022 222) can provide support and guidance.
- Pharmacies Open During Holidays: Stock up on medications before the public holidays and some pharmacies remain open during the holidays. Check local listings for the nearest open pharmacy for medication or medical supplies.
- Telehealth Services: Telehealth services can be a valuable resource for medical consultations without leaving your home. Check with your healthcare provider for telehealth options.
Support for Mental Health
The holiday season can be challenging, and it’s important to have access to mental health support:
- Lifeline (13 11 14): For crisis support and suicide prevention, Lifeline offers 24/7 telephone counselling.
- Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636): Provides support for issues relating to depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
Disability-Specific Emergency Support
Several services offer support specifically tailored to individuals with disabilities and those who support them, such as family members:
- Disability Information and Crisis Line: This service provides immediate assistance and advice for people with disabilities, especially in crisis situations.
- NDIS Emergency After-Hours Contact: If you are an NDIS participant and need urgent assistance, the NDIS has an after-hours contact line for emergencies.
- Carer’s SA: For any carer-related emergency, such as requiring Emergency Respite for you or a loved one, phone 1800422737
Home and Community Care Services
For those receiving home care, it’s important to know the holiday schedules of your service providers. Contact your provider BEFORE the holidays to confirm availability and gain their emergency contact details during the holiday period.
Emergency Accommodation and Food Services
In case of a need for emergency accommodation or food services during the holidays:
- Homelessness Service Provider Directory: This directory can guide you to emergency accommodation services.
- Food Banks and Charities: Local food banks and charities often provide food services during the holiday period. Check local directories for contact information.
Transport and Accessibility Services
If you require transport during an emergency, consider these options:
- Accessible Transport Services: Some services offer transportation specifically for individuals with disabilities. Contact local providers to understand their holiday operation hours.
- Community Transport Programs: These programs can assist with non-emergency transport needs during the holidays.
Of course, we all wish you and your clients and families an emergency-free holiday period!
If you’d like to learn more, VIVA Mutual’s Support Centre team is always available to share our expertise and experience for the benefit of Support Coordinators, NDIS participants and those who support them. Many of us live with disabilities ourselves and/or have family members with NDIS Plans too, so we know what we’re talking about.