Evacuation/Refuge Plan for Persons with Disabilities

People with mobility or other concerns that would make independent evacuation difficult are encouraged to make alternate 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 Facilities Management Safety Supervisor (569-3390), UA Little Rock Police Department (501-916-3400), and the Disability Resource Center (569-3143) can provide additional information.

Areas of Rescue will be designated by signage. Possible areas of rescue may be stairwells or areas adjacent to stairwells, or rooms with windows facing the outside, or interior rooms within the structure depending on the emergency (e.g. tornado, armed intruder). If unable to call out on a cell phone individuals should attempt to select a room with a telephone. It is understood that older structures may not have adequate landings with the stairwells to accommodate wheelchairs. Individuals are encouraged to use protected stairwells for exiting if possible and should contact UA Little Rock Police Department at 501-916-3400 or 911 for assistance. 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 an immediate connection to UA Little Rock Police Department are located at various points on the campus and in all elevators. Individuals whose speech may not be clear should activate the phone, speak to the extent possible and leave the phone activated until emergency personnel arrive. If neither of these options is available, pull the nearest fire alarm or ask someone else to pull it.

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

Assisting Those with Disabilities — Evacuation Guidelines

Each department should establish a “buddy” system in which volunteers and alternates are recruited and 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 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 special evacuation needs of their buddies and plan to alert and assist them if an evacuation is ordered. Individuals should provide a copy of these procedures to their volunteer/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 any obstacles. Do not grasp 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 lights on and off to gain attention and then indicate through gestures, or in writing, what is happening and what to do.
  • 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/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 unconscious, 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:

  • 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 backwards on the stairs
  • 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 individuals 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 wheel chair should be brought along with the person if possible as it will be needed once outside. If it is not possible to bring the wheelchair, contact Health Services (569-3188) and request a manual chair to be brought to the scene.

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.