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Life Enrichment Advancing People

September is Emergency Preparedness Month. While there frequently seems to be a day, week, or month dedicated to recognizing or learning about various topics, this particular topic became a pertinent event this week. The newly renovated central office of a LEAP (Life Enrichment Advancing People), a nonprofit agency in Maine, was leveled in an explosion on Monday. LEAP provides community services to individuals with intellectual disabilities. The explosion occurred on Monday morning shortly after the LEAP Maintenance Director noticed a strong smell of gas in the basement of the building and alerted everyone to evacuate the building before it exploded. Sadly, one of the firefighters who responded to the call was killed in the explosion, and six other people were injured, including the Maintenance Director.

LEAP is a member of ANCOR, as is RCPA, and so we share a connection. There has been much conversation regarding this incident in an online ANCOR Forum. LEAP CEO Darryl Wood responded to the outpouring of support on this forum, stating:

There are heroes among us. Our maintenance director evacuated everyone and was working with the first responders when the explosion occurred. Many lives were saved by an attentive person and a team that evacuated as we practiced. Don’t take those emergency plans for granted folks.

Inspired by Darryl’s message, ANCOR is offering two webinar recordings about emergency preparedness free of charge to their members. Offering these webinars is only a small part — but hopefully a meaningful part — of how ANCOR works to support our friends at LEAP and, more broadly, ANCOR members who experience all manner of disasters.

Both of these webinars, which were broadcast previously, offer information that remains relevant for providers seeking to understand the steps they can take to be more responsive to disasters of all kinds. To access the webinars, please use the following links:

We hope all providers take the time to reflect on disaster preparedness by watching these recordings, as well as to review your Disaster Plans and training for all staff and people supported. Other actions that have been suggested include:

  • Evaluate the location of your meeting place when evacuating. In this case, it was really far from the building, yet right on the periphery of the blast area.
  • When evacuating, people should leave immediately and not stop to pick up personal items.
  • People should not attempt to use their cell phones while the emergency is in process. Among other things, phones can trigger explosions.
  • If you have propane at any one of your sites, you should have a propane detector.

In an upcoming issue of RCPA News, there will be additional information provided, as well as resources available to assist agencies with emergency preparedness. For any questions regarding this info or how to assist LEAP in their recovery from this disaster, contact Carol Ferenz, RCPA IDD Division Director.