University Preparedness

Guidelines for University Preparedness in Evacuation Procedures for Students with Disabilities

  • All campus buildings need to have an expansion of their emergency evacuation procedure to include people with disabilities.
  • Review Eastern’s Critical Incident Management Plan.
  • Provide alternate forms of your building’s evacuation procedures, including:
    • Orally recorded
    • Braille
    • Easy readability
    • Large print
  • Ensure egress routes and areas of refuge are always clear and properly marked.
  • Participate in and help identify gaps in evacuation plans during practice drills.
  • Respect that the person with the disability may be the best authority on how to be evacuated.

Guidelines for Assisting a Student with a Disability in an Evacuation

General Guidelines

  • Offer assistance, but let the person explain what help is needed.
  • Carrying a person is not advisable, except in the most extreme of circumstances.
  • If you need to leave a student with a disability inside a building due to inherent danger, direct the student to an area of refuge. If one is unavailable, close the door(s) to the room and immediately inform emergency personnel the location and state of the person. Encourage the student to call 911 while he/she waits for help.

Assisting Individuals Who Use Wheelchairs

  • Be familiar with designated areas of refuge and location of evacuation equipment for wheelchair users.
  • Only in situations of extreme danger should untrained people attempt to carry a person in a wheelchair.
  • Prior to moving the person, check for life-support equipment.
  • Be aware that wheelchairs have parts not designed to handle the stress of lifting.
  • If you and/or others cannot safely carry a person up/down stairs, don’t. Instead:
    • Position the person in the safest place possible.
    • Alert emergency personnel of the person’s location.

Assisting Individuals with Mobility Limitations – Non Wheelchair Users

  • Do not interfere with person’s movement.
  • Clear displaced and fallen obstacles from egress routes.
  • If the stairs are crowded, you may act as a buffer.

Assisting Individuals with Limited Communication

  • Look for an instruction card on the person.
  • During an evacuation, give clear instructions.
  • Maintain eye contact with the individual to insure all directions are heard and understood.

Assisting Deaf or Hard Of Hearing Individuals

  • Provide the person with a flashlight for their preparedness kit so they can signal their location and to help with lip reading in the dark.
  • Get attention of the person before speaking and look at them when speaking.
  • Use facial expressions and hand gestures to communicate.
  • Speak using short sentences.
  • Provide written notes to indicate emergency and instructions, for example, “Fire! Go out rear door now!”
  • Check to be sure you are understood.
  • Be patient; the person may have difficulty understanding the urgency of your message.
  • Be aware that the person may not be able to hear oral commands issued by authorities.
  • When out of danger, offer to make phone calls if a TTY is not available.

Assisting Individuals Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

  • In the planning phase, provide orientation to building evacuation routes and pull alarm locations.
  • During an emergency, announce your presence when entering the person’s area.
  • Offer your elbow; do not grab their arm or hand.
  • Communicate through the evacuation by describing in advance physical barriers or action to be taken such as “Take two steps down.”

Assisting Individuals with Psychological Disabilities

  • Understand that the person may have difficulties in concentrating, handling stress, and initiating personal contact.
  • Help reduce stress during an emergency by:
    • Offering to escort the person through the evacuation
    • Giving clear and simple instructions

Assisting Persons with Learning or Developmental Differences

  • When developing printed emergency materials, review to insure easy “readability.”
  • During an evacuation, be patient giving instructions slowly and clearly.
  • Be aware that they may be unable to understand the emergency and could become disoriented or confused about the proper way to react.
  • Offer to accompany them, as their sense of direction may be limited.

Assisting Persons with Medical Conditions

  • Offer assistance walking down stairs.
  • Find ways to reduce stress, exertion, and exposure to dust or smoke.
  • Remind person to bring medication or inhalers.
  • Allow rest periods during evacuation, if possible.

Assisting Owners of Service Animals

  • Do not pet or offer food or water without the permission of the owner.
  • Be aware that a service animal’s sense of direction may become confused during an emergency.
  • Plan for the service animal to be evacuated with the owner.
  • In the event that you are asked to handle the service animal while assisting the individual, hold the leash and not the harness.
  • Consider the service animal as an extension of the person with a disability (similar to a wheelchair)