Adaptive Procedures for Persons with Disabilities
The following guidelines should be considered when assisting persons with disabilities in an evacuation. Emergency coordinators and volunteers should familiarize themselves with these procedures.
Mobility Impairment (Wheelchair)
1) If persons with mobility impairment
s cannot exit, they should move to a designated ARA, if available, or a safer area, e.g., an office or classroom with the door shut which is a good distance from the hazard and away from falling debris.
2) The buddy and/or the floor captain should then proceed to the evacuation assembly point outside the building and inform emergency personnel of the location of the person who needs assistance. If the person who is not able to evacuate is alone, he/she should phone the emergency dispatcher – when calling from a UW phone the number is 911. He/she should give their present location (office/room location, Location of ARA, etc.) and the type of evacuation assistance they need. The dispatcher will relay the information to on-scene emergency personnel.
If immediate evacuation is necessary, be aware of the following considerations:
· Wheelchairs have movable parts; some are not designed to withstand stress or lifting.
· You may need to remove the chair batteries; be aware that life-support equipment may be attached.
· In a life-threatening emergency, it may be necessary to remove an individual from the 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. It may be necessary to help clear the exit route.
· Delegate other personnel to bring the wheelchair.
· Arrangements should also be made to make wheelchairs available after evacuation. Reunite the person with the wheelchair as soon as it is safe to retrieve it.
Mobility Impairment (Not using wheelchair)
Contact the building coordinator/ emergency personnel for assistance. Ask the person their preferred method of assistance. Persons with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently may be able to use stairs with some assistance. If danger is imminent, the individual should wait until heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. Crutches, canes and walkers should not be left behind. If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, follow the same procedure as wheelchair users.
· Face the person when you speak to them. Speak clearly and tersely while you describe the situation.
· To attract their attention, touch them, use eye contact or turn the light switch off and on.
· Gestures are helpful, but be prepared to write notes describing the emergency and nearest evacuation route if the person does not seem to understand what you are saying.
· Offer visual instructions (e.g., by pointing toward exits or a lobby evacuation map) in guiding the person to the safest exit.
· Make sure that floor captains check all locations, including restrooms, to communicate the need to evacuate. This is especially important for persons in the building who may be deaf or have other hearing impairments.
· In an emergency situation, describe the nature of the emergency. Most people with a visual impairment are familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently-traveled routes. Since the emergency evacuation route is likely different from the commonly traveled route, persons who are visually impaired may need assistance during an emergency evacuation. Do not grasp a person’s arm without first asking. This might disorient a visually impaired person. If they welcome your assistance, offer your elbow and escort him/her to a safe place. Providing direction is very important if there is a crowd or obstruction in the area.
· When you are walking, give a verbal description about the evacuation route, using estimated distances and directional terms.
· When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are and ask if any further assistance is needed.
· Some individuals may have dog guides that may be disoriented during the emergency, and may require additional assistance. They should be asked how/if they can be assisted.
· White canes and other mobility aids should not be left behind.
· Consider ways of communicating with people who have cognitive impairments. For example, some individuals may benefit from pictures of buddies, color coding of escape doors and ARA, and information on tape or CD.
· Consider the effects of training for emergency evacuation. Some individuals with psychiatric impairments benefit from frequent emergency drills, but for others practice drills may trigger anxiety. Notifying individuals of upcoming practice drills and allowing them to opt out of participation may be a reasonable accommodation. In this case, another form of training for emergency evacuation procedures may be needed, for example providing detailed written instructions.