Emergency Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities
Evacuation coordinators will work with vice presidents, division deans and supervisors to identify any employees with a disability who would need consideration and assistance during an evacuation. At least two staff members should be assigned to each person identified with a disability to provide assistance, ensuring that the disabled person will be assisted during the evacuation. Should the disabled person not be able to use the fire exit stairwells, he or she must be escorted to the exit stairwell landing as a "Safe Area of Rescue." Without putting the volunteer in danger, the volunteer should remain with the disabled person at the landing to provide additional assistance. The building evacuation coordinator will inform emergency responder that a disabled person is waiting for rescue on the specified floor within the specified exit stairwell.
Faculty and the Disability Support Services Office will identify any student(s) with a disability that would need consideration and assistance during an evacuation. At least two students should be assigned to each person identified with a disability to provide assistance, ensuring that the disabled person will be assisted during the evacuation. Should the disabled person not be able to use the fire exit stairwells, he or she must be escorted to the exit stairwell landing as a "Safe Point of Rescue." Keeping the safety of the volunteer in mind, the volunteer may remain with the disabled person at the landing to provide additional assistance. The faculty member or instructor will inform emergency personnel that a disabled person is waiting for rescue on the specified floor within the specified exit stairwell.
Event coordinators for special events (games, concerts, plays and other activities) will assist evacuation coordinator with persons with disabilities.
When the disabled person is outside someone should remain with the person until the emergency is over.
EVACUATION OF DISABLED PERSONS
Horizontal Evacuation: Move away from the area of imminent danger to a safe distance (i.e., outside in the assembly area, another building or stairwell).
A. Visually Impaired Persons
Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with their immediate work area. In an emergency situation, describe the nature of the emergency and offer to act as a "sighted guide"; offer your elbow and escort him/her to a safe place. As you walk, describe where you are and advise of any obstacles. When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are and ask if any further assistance is needed.
If the person has a service animal, be aware that the animal's sense of direction may become confused during an emergency.
B. Hearing Impaired Persons
Because persons with impaired hearing may not perceive emergency alarms, an alternative warning technique is required. Two methods of warning:
- Write a note describing the emergency and nearest evacuation route. ("Fire. Go out rear door to the right and down, NOW!")
- Turn the light switch off and on to gain attention, then indicate through gestures what is happening and what to do.
C. Persons Using Crutches/Canes or Walkers
In emergency evacuations, these individuals should be treated as if they were injured. If needed use the building(s) Evac-Chair(s), if none are available have the individual sit on a sturdy chair, preferably a chair with arms, and follow the procedure for non-ambulatory persons below.
D. Non-ambulatory persons
Evacuation may not be necessary or advisable. Stairwells are designed to provide temporary protection from fire or other danger. An able-bodied volunteer should stay with a wheelchair user in the platform area of the stairwell while a second person notifies emergency personnel or paramedics of the exact location of the wheelchair user.
If immediate evacuation is necessary, be aware of the following considerations:
- Wheelchairs have movable parts; some are not designed to withstand stress or lifting. Use the building(s) Evac-Chair(s).
- Prior to moving the person, check for life-support equipment.
- In a life-threatening emergency, it may be necessary to remove an individual from their wheelchair. Lifting a person with minimal ability to move may be dangerous to their well-being.
- Wheelchairs should not be used to descend stairwells, if at all possible.
- Non-ambulatory persons may have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke or fumes immediately and determine their needs and preferences.
- Check the evacuation routes for obstructions before assisting the person to the exit.
- Delegate other volunteers to bring the wheelchair.
- Reunite the person with their wheelchair as soon as it is safe to retrieve it.
Always consult with the person in the chair regarding how best to assist him/her:
- The number of people necessary for assistance.
- Ways of being removed from the wheelchair.
- Whether to extend or move extremities when lifting because of pain, catheter leg bags, braces, etc.
- Whether to carry forward or backward on a flight of stairs.
- Whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along if the wheelchair is being left behind.
- In lieu of a wheelchair, does he/she prefer a stretcher, chair with cushion/pad, or car seat?
- Is paramedic assistance necessary?
Tips to Assist Persons with Disabilities Develop a Plan
Knowledge and preparation by the college community is essential to reducing the impact of emergency situations for person with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to take responsibility in developing their own personal emergency actions plan and sharing it with Disability Support Services, buddies (volunteers), supervisors, evacuation coordinators, instructors and the security office. When developing a plan the safety needs of persons with disabilities should be developed on a case-by-case basis because they vary with each individual and location.
- Make two plans - one when with others - one when alone.
- Ask others for input, i.e., co-workers, instructors, supervisors, evacuation coordinators, and the security office.
- Ask evacuation coordinators or the security office about areas of refuge and location of evacuation equipment (Evac-Chairs).
- Choose two evacuation routes for each building.
- Set up a buddy system. (The person with a disability and a buddy must be able to contact each other quickly. At least 2 buddies should be assigned. The person with a disability should train buddies when a plan is completed. The buddies need to be willing and capable of assisting in an evacuation.)
- Do not use elevators in case of fire or earthquakes.
- Find out where accessible alternate shelter is located.
- Have a list of all your medication (name, dose, frequency, and name of doctor).
- Attach written instructions to all disability related equipment.
- Think about your needs for disaster supplies kits, such as disability related equipment, communication devices, service animal food, and three days worth of medication.
- Consider using door/window markers so emergency personnel will know your location.
- Let security know when you are on campus after hours.
- Have easy access to emergency contact information at all times.
- Share your plan with buddies, instructors, supervisors, co-workers and evacuation coordinators.
- Participate in drills and review the effectiveness of your plan.
For training or to receive more information, please contact Tony Simone at 596-5300.
Note About Confidentiality
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal disability discrimination laws do not prevent employers from obtaining and appropriately using information necessary for a comprehensive emergency evacuation plan. However, employers should follow the EEOC guidelines for obtaining and using this information (www.eeoc.gov).