Emergency and Evacuation Planning

Evacuation Procedures Involving Persons with Disabilities

  • It is important to incorporate the diverse needs of individuals when planning for evacuations. Being proactive is the most important component of the process!
  • Before an emergency, take time to locate the nearest exit or ENCLOSED stairwell that leads directly to the outside in buildings that you use.
  • Give preference to the use of enclosed stairwells in an emergency.
  • Enclosed stairwell landings are an Area of Rescue Assistance for individuals in wheelchairs.
  • Never use elevators during an emergency evacuation.

Individuals with Disabilities

  • Be proactive! Plan evacuation routes for all the buildings you use. Make a checklist that incorporates all the information about evacuation planning.
  • On-campus residents: You are responsible for independently evacuating a residence hall. If needed, staff can help you make a plan.
  • Participate in evacuation drills and provide feedback as needed.
  • Once outside, proceed to the Assembly or Mustering Area designated for that building.

For individuals who have difficulty walking without assistance

With assistance, use stairs to evacuate. Wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. Ask someone to walk behind you to provide a buffer. If there is no imminent danger, you may choose to stay in an Area of Rescue Assistance until emergency staff arrive.

For individuals using a wheelchair

Move to an Area of Rescue Assistance with an assistant when the alarm activates. Have your evacuation assistant alert the emergency responders to your location and go to the Assembly Area outside the building to inform the building captains. If you are alone, use the LIVESAFE app or call 704-687-2200 with your location and the area of rescue assistance you are headed to.

For individuals who are Deaf/hard of hearing

Some buildings on campus have fire alarms with strobe lights; however, many older buildings have only an audible alarm. Identify a method that will alert you to evacuate and then share this method with your instructors and/or interpreters.

For individuals who are blind/low vision

You may need help in evacuating, since the emergency evacuation route is likely different from the route you usually travel. Be sure to give an assistant instructions, such as, “I am blind/or have difficulty seeing, can I take your arm in order to evacuate.”

For individuals with medical conditions

Think ahead about what needs might arise in an evacuation. Identify any assistive devices, coping strategies, or medical needs and be prepared to communicate your needs to others. A medic alert bracelet or an emergency health information card will inform emergency personnel if you are unable to communicate. If the condition prohibits you from using stairs, go to the closest Area of Rescue Assistance.

Assisting Individuals with Disabilities

  • ASK how you can help BEFORE giving assistance.
    Respect that the person with the disability may be the authority on how to be evacuated.
  • Offer help but let the person explain what help is needed.
  • Carrying a person is not advisable except in the most extreme of circumstances.
  • Once outside, direct the person to the Assembly or Mustering Area designated for that building

For individuals who have difficulty walking without assistance

A person using crutches, a cane, or walker may be able to go down stairs, but may ask for your help. Encourage them to use the stair rail and walk behind the person to act as a buffer from others who may push forward from behind.

For individuals using a wheelchair

ASK the person in a wheelchair before providing help. Assist the individual in moving to an Area of Rescue Assistance, then inform emergency responders of their location. Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by trained professionals. Only in situations of extreme danger should anyone attempt to evacuate wheelchair users. Moving a wheelchair down stairs is never safe.

For individuals who are Deaf/hard of hearing

Give deaf/hard of hearing individuals emergency instructions by writing a short, clear note to leave the building immediately and to gather at the Assembly or Mustering Area.

For individuals who are blind/low vision

People with a visual limitation are most familiar with their immediate surroundings and routes they use often. During an emergency pathways may become blocked. Offer your elbow to guide this person through the evacuation route. Communicate calmly to ensure safe evacuation.

Emergency Evacuation Terms and Notification Systems

Enclosed stairwell: A stairwell that is walled off and sealed with closed doors at all entryways from the rest of the building

Area of Rescue Assistance: A location in a building designed to hold occupants during an emergency when evacuation may not be safe or possible. Occupants wait there until rescued by emergency responders. Areas of Rescue Assistance should be separated from the remainder of the floor by a smoke barrier having at least a one-hour fire-resistance rating. These areas are generally an enclosed stairwell or a fire rated corridor or vestibule adjacent to exit stairs. The Area of Rescue Assistance should be away from the obvious danger.

Alarm pull stations: Located in all facilities in corridors near exit doors, and when pulled automatically alert campus dispatch. Will also sound an audible alarm throughout the facility.

Strobe lights: Located in most facilities in corridors and used to produce flashes of light in case of an emergency.

Fire extinguishers: A portable device located in all facilities in every corridor at determined areas. Contains chemicals that can be discharged in a rapid stream to extinguish a small fire.

Emergency Evacuation Plans: A written plan used to facilitate and organize the actions of all the occupants in a specific building during an emergency. Well-developed emergency plans can result in fewer injuries during emergencies.

Assembly or Mustering Area: A destination for evacuees outside the building. This area must be away from the main entrance, pathways, streets and out of the path of all emergency vehicles and equipment