Some persons with disabilities need no additional assistance to evacuate, while others may require help. Below are general concerns and guidelines, which campus community members can be aware of, in order to keep themselves safe while notifying emergency response personnel of others in need of assistance.

Mobility Impairments

Concerns during an emergency for individuals with mobility impairments might include:

  • Not being able to react or maneuver quickly when escaping a fire or evacuating a building.
  • Elevators are not accessible during a fire or when a fire alarm is activated; individuals with mobility impairments may not be able to traverse stairs independently. Under no circumstances should an individual carry or lift another person during an evacuation.

Hearing Impairments

Concerns during an emergency for individuals with hearing impairments might include:

  • Not being able to immediately hear or see the alarm and react promptly.
  • Not being able to hear verbal instructions and respond properly.

Visual Impairments

Concerns during an emergency for individuals with visual impairments might include:

  • High-decibel smoke alarms make it difficult for a blind individual to effectively process auditory clues and instructions from rescue personnel or others close by.
  • Many buildings are not equipped with Braille or tactile signage for the visually impaired, hindering the individual's ability to evacuate due to lack of available directions.

General Guidelines

Your own safety is your first priority. If you do not feel safe assisting another individual, evacuate as directed and notify emergency personnel of the individual’s location.

When it is safe to do so, campus community members can follow these general guidelines in order to assist an individual with a disability during an emergency or drill:

  • Do not forcibly grab, pull, or push the individual.
  • Speak directly to the individual in a clear tone of voice; do not shout or panic.
  • Identify your presence, and ask if the individual is in need of assistance.
  • Do not carry or lift the individual.
  • Guide or assist the individual into an area of refuge or other designated safe waiting area, exercising caution to avoid falls and trips while assisting others.
    • It is important that the person taking shelter not impede the evacuation of others.
    • If the individual is not able to traverse stairs, it is preferable they wait near the stairwell or elevator lobby:
      • Staying on one side of the hallway, near the stairwell door, to wait for emergency personnel to assist.
      • Entering the stairwell only if the designated safe waiting area is in the stair landing, or if there is immediate danger in the hallway.
    • Do not wait with the individual. Evacuate as directed.
  • Notify emergency personnel, including Public Safety, of the location of the individual in need of further assistance.

Individuals Needing Assistance

Anyone who has concerns over their own ability to navigate emergency evacuation independently, can meet with the coordinator for fire safety or Accessibility Services in order to create an individualized emergency evacuation plan, which may include:

  • Identifying areas of refuge on campus
  • Having key phone numbers for emergency communication
  • Notifying appropriate campus offices and staff, and walking through the emergency evacuation plan