Emergency Evacuation/Refuge for Persons With Disabilities – 701.11

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Policy Name: Emergency Evacuation/Refuge for Persons With Disabilities
Policy Number: 701.11
Effective Date: December 15, 2009

Policy:

People with mobility or other concerns that would make independent evacuation difficult are encouraged to make alternative emergency evacuation plans since, while emergency personnel are usually available to assist with evacuation, this may not always be the case. Every individual must quickly become familiar with the area by locating exits, stairwells, elevators, fire fighting equipment, fire alarms, and possible areas of rescue. The Environmental Health and Safety Office (501-371-7602), Public Safety (501-569-3400) and Disability Support Services (501-569-3143) can provide additional information.

Designated Areas of Rescue Assistance will be designated by signage on both sides of the doors to the area. Other possible areas of rescue may be stairwells or fire escapes, areas adjacent to stairwells or fire escapes, rooms with windows facing the outside, or in some cases interior rooms without windows (depending on the emergency, e.g., a tornado or an armed intruder). If unable to call out on a cell phone individuals should attempt to select a room with a phone. It is understood that older structures may not have adequate landings within the stairwells to accommodate wheelchairs. Individuals are encouraged to use protected stairwells for exiting if possible and should contact Public Safety at 501-569-3400 or call 911 for assistance. (NOTE: when calling a university number from a cell phone you must press all seven digits. Depending on your phone service you may also have to include the area code.) Individuals needing assistance should be prepared to give their name, building, floor and location, and other specific information to guide emergency personnel.

Individuals are encouraged to carry cell phones to contact emergency services personnel for assistance. Emergency phones that provide immediate connection by picking up the receiver are located at various points on the campus and in all elevators. Individuals whose speech may not be clear should pick up the phone, speak to the extent possible, and leave the phone off the hook until emergency personnel arrive. If neither of these options is feasible, the individual should pull the nearest fire alarm or ask someone else to pull it.

Individuals should advise others (supervisors, administrators, instructors, colleagues, fellow students) about any concerns they may have related to emergency exiting and how to provide assistance in the event of an emergency. This can include assistance to exits or possible areas of rescue, and alerting emergency services of their location.

Elevators should not be used unless police or fire personnel indicate it is safe.

Assisting People with Disabilities, Evacuation Guidelines

Each department should establish a “buddy” system for personnel who work in the department by recruiting volunteers and alternates who are paired with individuals who have identified themselves as having disabilities and requested assistance with emergency evacuations. Ultimately the department chair or director is responsible for putting the plan for employees in place and for follow-up. Students who may need assistance exiting a building should recruit “buddies” for each class or location on their regular schedules. Volunteers should become familiar with the evacuation issues for their buddies and plan to alert and assist them if an evacuation is ordered. Individuals should provide a copy of these procedures to their volunteers/buddies.

People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision
  • Tell the person the nature of the emergency and offer to guide him/her. As you walk, indicate where you are and advise of any obstacles. Do not grasp at the person’s arm. Offer your arm for guidance.
  • If the person uses a dog guide, the dog may be confused or injured. Attempt to evacuate the dog guide.
  • Canes and other mobility aids should be brought along with the individual.
People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • Some older buildings do not have visual alarm systems. Therefore, persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may not perceive emergency alarms and an alternative warning technique is required. Two methods of warning are:
    • Tap the person on the shoulder or turn the light switch on and off to gain attention, then indicate through gestures, or in writing, what is happening and what to do. Do not flip lights in the event of a gas leak.
    • For a person who is both deaf and blind marking an “X” on the person’s back indicates an emergency and that the person is about to be guided to safety.
  • During the building sweep emergency personnel should check all locations in the building, including bathroom stalls and library carrels.
  • For faculty and staff who are deaf or hard of hearing part of the departmental plan should include the person’s preferred method of contact if they should be out of the department office at the time (e.g., e-mail, text message, or having a colleague or supervisor come to the building being evacuated when the individual is known to be there, as in when scheduled to teach a class or attend a regular meeting).
People with Mobility Concerns, Ambulatory and Not Ambulatory

It is important to communicate with the individual before making the decision to physically assist unless the person is unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate and danger is imminent. If the person can’t speak clearly but is conscious, ask whether he/she has written emergency information and where it is located (if unconscious, check for information on the person’s body, and in a backpack or purse). Preferences and requirements will vary. Always consult the person as to his/her preference with regard to:

  • The number of people necessary for assistance.
  • Whether to extend or move extremities when lifting because of pain, catheter bags, braces, etc.
  • Whether to carry the person forward or backward on stairs.
  • If an evacuation chair is not available, carrying options include using a two-person, lock-arm position (see attached drawing), or having the person sit in a sturdy chair, preferably with arms. For level travel, an office chair with wheels could be utilized. The person should be secured in the chair when possible using a belt or rope. Trained emergency personnel should provide this type of assistance.
  • A person may choose to stay in an Area of Rescue Assistance or other possible area of rescue rather than take medical risks in being moved. Unless danger is imminent, this request should be honored, and emergency personnel will continue to monitor the situation. If the person remains in an Area of Rescue Assistance or other possible area of assistance, he/she should call for assistance if possible (569-3400 or 911) and have a “buddy” or someone who is exiting notify emergency personnel.
  • Evacuation chairs are located in a number of buildings. For the location of chairs refer to Appendix A.
People Using Crutches, Canes, or Walkers

If the person is having difficulty exiting quickly, treat him/her as if injured for evacuation purposes. Provide assistance requested, such as using another person for support while exiting. Canes, walkers and other mobility aids should be carried out of the building and returned to the individual.

People Who are Not Ambulatory

In addition to the first bulleted items listed under “People with Mobility Concerns” above, always consult the person as to his/her preference on:

  • Ways of being removed from the wheelchair.
  • Whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along if he/she is removed from the chair.
  • After-care, if removed from the wheelchair.

Most non-ambulatory persons will be able to exit safely without assistance if on the ground floor, though some people have minimal ability to move independently.

Frequently, non-ambulatory persons have respiratory complications. Assist them in moving away from smoke or fumes immediately.

The person’s wheelchair should be brought along with the person if at all possible as it will be needed once outside. If it is not possible to move the wheelchair, contact Health Services (501-569-3188) and a manual wheelchair can be brought to the scene.

Housing

Follow the procedures above. In addition:

  • A wheelchair should be kept in a designated location, preferably where the gurney is kept, and taken outside during emergencies and drills so individuals can be mobile and independent to the extent possible.
  • A rolling gurney should be purchased and stored in the housing complex.
  • All staff, including RA’s and CA’s should be shown (not just informed) of the location of the gurney and evacuation chairs.
  • Training should be provided for all staff, including RA’s and CA’s on use of the gurney and evacuation chair at least on an annual basis and when a new person is employed.
  • If a resident is unable to independently transfer from bed to a wheelchair or evacuation chair, emergency personnel should be contacted immediately to assist. Unless danger is imminent, emergency personnel should provide this type of assistance.
  • The Housing Office will notify Public Safety, the Facilities Management safety supervisor, and the fire-monitoring service about residents with disabilities who may need assistance.
  • Window and/or door signs could be posted indicating that an individual needing evacuation assistance resides in that room or apartment.
  • Regular drills should be conducted that include people with disabilities. If a person with a mobility impairment that could be caused injury or pain by being moved requests to not evacuate during a drill, this should be honored, but the individual should be verbally walked through the procedures during or immediately after the drill, including bringing in the gurney or evacuation chair and reviewing the entire process of using them. This also applies to students who are in bed and unable to independently transfer to a wheelchair, evacuation chair, or gurney.

Appendix A

Building Location Floor
Dickenson Hall North end of Hall 6
Ross Hall North end of Hall 6
Science Lab Building and Fribourgh Hall In the hall that connects the two buildings 4
ETAS In the North stairwell 6
Ottenheimer library In the West stairwell by the elevators 5
Reynolds Building In the North stairwell 4
North Dorm In the North East stairwell 4
South Dorm In the South East stairwell 4
Old East Dorm In the North stairwell 5
EIT In East Stairwell 6

Source: Environmental Health and Safety
Revised:
Approved By: Environmental Health and Safety Committee, Dec. 15, 2009
Custodian: EHS Committee