Evacuation for persons with disabilities
See also Evacuation - General.
Individuals with disabilities should identify primary and secondary
evacuation routes, and seek out colleagues who are willing to provide
assistance if evacuation ever becomes necessary. Faculty, staff, and
students can help by being
aware of others who may need assistance in an evacuation.
Persons with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently
should be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor
assistance. Wait until the heavy traffic has
cleared on the stairwell before attempting to exit. At least one person
should accompany the challenged individual to provide assist,
Mobility Impaired - Wheelchair
In most buildings, people will need to use stairwells to reach
building exits. Elevators cannot be used because they have been shown to
be unsafe in an emergency. It is not safe to attempt to move a wheelchair down stairs.
Evacuation Options for disabled persons:
- Working with an evacuation assistant, select a room with an exterior
window, a telephone and a solid, fire-resistant door. Remain with the
disabled person in this room, and send someone to the evacuation
assembly area to notify emergency personnel of the location of the
person needing assistance. It is also possible to place the person
needing assistance near a stairway landing to await assistance, although
this area may not be protected from smoke and other hazards.
- Fire Department personnel, who are trained in emergency rescue, can
then enter the building and assist the person in exiting the building,
either down the stairs or using the emergency elevator recall.
- While staying in place, the wheelchair user should keep in direct
contact with emergency services by calling 911 or 322-2745 and reporting
his/her location directly.
- Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by
trained professionals from emergency services. Only in situations of
extreme danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair
users. If this must be attempted, one possibility is the following.
Office Chair Evacuation
- Wait until other evacuees have moved down the stairwell.
- The two helpers stand on either side of the individual.
- They reach under the individual and lift them out in a cradle.
- Helpers control the descent by walking slowly and cautiously.
- NEVER leave a wheelchair in a stair well.
- Transfer the challenged individual to a sturdy office chair.
- One helper gently leans the chair backwards.
- The other helper faces the chair and holds onto the front legs of the
chair. Both helpers will lift the chair simultaneously, lifting with
their legs not their backs.
- The helpers control the descent by bending their legs and keeping
their back straight.
Some buildings on campus are equipped with fire strobe lights;
however, some are not. Persons with hearing impairments may not hear
audio alarms and will need to be alerted to emergency situations by an
Most people with visual impairments will be familiar with their
immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes. Since the
emergency evacuation route may be different from the commonly traveled
route, persons who are visually impaired may need assistance in
evacuation. The evacuation assistant should offer his/her elbow to the
individual with the visual impairment and guide him/her through the
evacuation route. During the evacuation, the evacuation assistant should
communicate as necessary to ensure safe evacuation.
Evacuation - General
Evacuation - Disabilities
Shelter in Place
Hazardous Materials Spill
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login with VUNet ID & e-password.)
Medical Center students, staff and faculty should also refer to the
VUMC Emergency Response Quick Reference Guide
and the VUMC
Safety & Emergency Operations Manual.