Persons With Disabilities
Guidelines for Persons with Disabilities in Emergencies
Evacuation of people with disabilities will be given high priority in all emergencies.
In an emergency situation, it is important that you are familiar with your needs during
evacuation. You are encouraged to convey these needs to your instructor at the beginning
of each semester. While attending class, try to position yourself near a doorway for
an easier exit. Become familiar with the build its exits. Follow signs to exits.
The following guidelines are important to follow:
- Establish a buddy system and alternate for each class. People with disabilities should
prepare for an emergency ahead of time by instructing a classmate, instructor, supervisor,
or co-worker on how to assist in the event of any emergency.
- If assistance is not immediately available, disabled people should remain near the
stairwell landing or in the elevator lobby. Rescue personnel will first check all
exit corridors and stairwells for those trapped. She/he should continue to call for
help until rescued.
- Individuals, who cannot speak loudly, or with voice / speech impairments, should carry
a whistle or have other means of attracting attention of others.
- Be familiar with alarm signals.
- Leave school materials in the room to avoid wasting time.
- Wait for rescue and remain calm.
- DO NOT re-enter a building until permitted by emergency personnel.
If you suspect a fire is behind a door; cover your hand to provide protection, first
and then test the door by touching it. If it is hot then do NOT use the door as an
exit. Try to find an alternate route for an exit. A cautionary note on elevators:
Do NOT use elevators unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel. Elevators
could fail during a fire, earthquake or flood.
Evacuation Policy for People With Disabilities
The campus community should familiarize themselves with these procedures in order
to assist in planning for the evacuation of people with physical and sensory disabilities.
In All Emergencies, After an Evacuation has Been Ordered:
- Evacuation of people with disabilities will be given high priority in all emergencies
and will be evacuated if possible. Evacuating a disabled or injured person by only
one person with no assistance is a last resort.
- Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training.
- Check on people with special needs during an evacuation, determine if they have established
a “buddy system,” and ensure their safe evacuation.
- Always ASK someone with a disability how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue
technique or giving assistance. Ask how he or she can best be assisted or moved, and
whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.
- If the situation is life threatening, call 9-1-1.
- Do NOT use elevators, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel. Elevators
could fail during a fire, earthquake or flood.
- If an outage occurs during the day and people with disabilities choose to wait in
the building for electricity to be restored, they can move near a window where there
is natural light and access to a working telephone. During regular building hours,
a Building Marshal, Disabled Students Services, or the University Police should be
- If people would like to leave and an evacuation has been ordered, or if the outage
occurs at night, call University Police at (760) 750-4567 from a campus telephone
to request evacuation assistance.
- On campus phones should continue to operate in the event of a power failure, however
there may be no power to the display or lighting functions.
Emergency Evacuation Tips and Overview
Evacuation is difficult and uncomfortable for both the rescuers and the people being
assisted. Some people have conditions that can be aggravated or triggered if they
are moved incorrectly. Remember that environmental conditions (smoke, debris, loss
of electricity) will complicate evacuation efforts.
The following guidelines are general and may not apply in every circumstance.
- Occupants should be invited to volunteer ahead of time to assist disabled people in
an emergency. If a volunteer is not available, designate someone to assist who is
willing to accept the responsibility.
- Volunteers should obtain evacuation training for certain types of lifting techniques
through Risk Management and Safety in coordination with the Disabled Student Services
- Two or more trained volunteers, if available, should conduct the evacuation and relay
teams established if the evacuation is more than three flights.
- Always ASK disabled people how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue technique
or giving assistance. Ask how they can best be assisted or moved, and if there are
any special considerations or items that need to come with them. Lifting a person
may be harmful. Ask their preference about being carried forward or backward down
a flight of stairs. Ask whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along. Wheelchairs
were not designed to handle the stress of lifting. Batteries may have to be removed
and life support equipment could be connected.
- Before attempting an evacuation, volunteers and people being assisted should discuss
how any lifting will be done and where they are going.
- Proper lifting techniques (e.g., bending the knees, keeping the back straight, holding
the person close before lifting, and using leg muscles to lift) should be used to
avoid injury to rescuers’ backs. Ask permission of the evacuee if an evacuation chair
or similar device is being considered as an aid in an evacuation. When using such
devices, make sure the person is secured property. Rest at landings if necessary.
- Certain lifts may need to be modified depending on a person’s disability.
- Persons who must be taken out of the wheelchair to be transported can be carried by:
- Pack-Strap Carry: Initiate the technique at the top of a flight of stairs where the
carrier can use the handrail for support in lifting.
- If the student has no arm strength or is less than half the carrier’s weight, use
the “cradle”, similar to the technique used when picking up a small child.
- A straight back chair or evacuation chair requires at least three strong people are
available who can control the chair (if the person agrees to this method).
Prepare occupants in your building ahead of time for emergency evacuations. Know your
building occupants. Train staff, faculty, and students to be aware of the needs of
people with disabilities and to know how to offer assistance. Hold evacuation drills
in which occupants participate, and evaluate drills to identify areas that need improvement.
Develop plans that cover regular working hours, after hours, and weekends. Everyone
needs to take responsibility for preparing for emergencies. People with abilities
should consider what they would do and whether they need to take additional steps
At alarm, options are:
- In an extreme emergency, leave the building immediately and notify emergency personnel
of a disabled person needing assistance.
- In a moderate emergency, help the disabled person to your department’s area of safe
refuge assembly point, leave the building, and notify emergency personnel of a disabled
person needing assistance.
- Assist the disabled person to evacuate.