Key core capabilities within the response mission area that have the most implications for socially vulnerable populations are public information and warning, mass care services, and critical transportation. 

. “[T]raditional methods of communicating health and emergency information often fall short of the goal of reaching everyone in a community” (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010, p. 4). Public information and warning is one of the national core capabilities and has three distinct elements: quality (coordinated, prompt, reliable, and actionable, clear, consistent), accessibility (accessible, culturally and linguistically appropriate methods), and purpose or content (information regarding any threat or hazard, actions being taken, and the assistance being made available, as appropriate) (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011).

Mass care services is the capability to provide “…life-sustaining services to the affected population with a focus on hydration, feeding, and sheltering to those who have the most need, as well as support for reunifying families” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011, p. 13). Additionally, Functional Needs Support Services (FNSS) enable individuals to maintain their independence in a general population shelter (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2010). Mass cares services should be prepared to support displaced people who have pre-incident factors in the Social Determinants of Vulnerability Framework, particularly low-to-no income, older adults, people of color, and those who are socially isolated.

The critical transportation core capability “provides transportation (including infrastructure access and accessible transportation services) for response priority objectives, including the evacuation of people and animals, and the delivery of vital response personnel, equipment, and services into the affected areas” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011, p. 12). The original national capabilities, called the Target Capabilities List, combined critical transportation and mass care services into a single capability referred to as citizen evacuation and shelter-in-place.  It provided a much more people-focused context: 

“…the capability to prepare for, ensure communication of, and immediately execute the safe and effective sheltering-in-place of an at-risk population (and companion animals), and/or the organized and managed evacuation of the at-risk population (and companion animals) to areas of safe refuge in response to a potentially or actually dangerous environment. In addition, this capability involves the safe reentry of the population where feasible” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2007, p. 377). 

There are significant logistical considerations with regard to sheltering and evacuating people, particularly those who are most vulnerable.  Estimates for the percentage of Americans with a disability ranges from 19 to 30% with over 10 million people that have a vision disability –blind, low vision, deaf/blind – and cannot see a map on television that shows them evacuation routes (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2011a). The ability to evacuate people includes the need for public information and warning and mass care services capabilities.

The Social Determinants of Vulnerability Framework does not include people without vehicles. However, the condition of people without vehicles was related to social isolation, limited access to post-incident services, low-to-no income, older adults, and people with disabilities, all of which are part of the Social Determinants of Vulnerability Framework. The Framework accounts for people without vehicles through the relationship with other social conditions listed above.