Emergency Evacuation Procedures for Persons with Disabilities

It is the goal of Tompkins Cortland Community College to plan for the safe and orderly evacuation of persons with disabilities during an emergency.

The following is advice for assisting with some of the more common disabilities which may impair a person’s ability to respond to an emergency situation. Certain medical conditions and cognitive impairments may also create a risk. If you observe someone who you believe may need assistance, ask if and how you can be of help.

Faculty and staff should prepare for emergencies ahead of time by learning the locations of accessible exit routes, exit stairwells, and procedures for assisted evacuation. Faculty members should discuss emergency procedures with all individuals they supervise or teach.

ALWAYS ASK someone with a disability how you can help before giving assistance or attempting any rescue technique. 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, such as respirators, mobility aids, or other equipment.

Visual impairments

Give verbal instructions to advise about the safest route or direction. Use compass or clock directions, estimated distances, and directional terms.

DO NOT grasp a visually impaired person's arm. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit, especially if there is debris or a crowd.

As you walk, tell the individual where you are and the location of any obstacles. When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are. If you leave the person after reaching safety, make sure that he or she knows his or her current location and how to reach the next desired location.

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Hearing impairments

Alarms are equipped with strobes that flash in the event of an emergency. However, outside the main hallways in older parts of the main building, persons with hearing impairments may not notice or hear emergency alarms and will need visual cues to be alerted of emergency situations.

Get the attention of the person by touch and eye contact. Clearly identify the emergency and the need to evacuate the building. Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.

Offer visual instructions to advise the safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.

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Mobility impairments

It may be necessary to help clear an exit route of debris (if possible) so that a person with mobility impairment can move out or to a safer area.

Persons who are able to walk independently may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. Assess the situation and consider whether you should wait until heavy traffic has cleared before attempting stairwells.

On the first floor of the building, all individuals should immediately leave the building using the nearest safe exit.

First floor exits with stairs which may pose a problem for persons with mobility impairments are marked with a "not accessible" symbol.

On the second floor or basement of the main building, persons using wheelchairs or otherwise unable to negotiate the stairways should assemble near the elevators in the red and yellow sections of the building; those on the third floor of the athletic facility should also assemble by the elevator. Trained personnel will report to these designated assembly areas and provide appropriate evacuation assistance by elevator (if safe), evacuation chair, or carry technique. At no time may an elevator be used during an emergency (real or drill) except under direction of designated emergency personnel. The elevators are programmed to shut off during an alarm.

Students and employees with disabilities or medical conditions who may require assistance with emergency evacuation are responsible for:

  • Identifying himself or herself to supervisors, faculty, roommates, and/or residence assistants, indicating the nature of his or her disability and the type of assistance required;
  • Knowing campus evacuation routes and being capable and willing to communicate such information;
  • Instructing assistants in the correct method of rendering assistance both in training sessions and during an actual emergency;
  • Making use of a "Buddy System."

During the first week of classes or employment, make several acquaintances with fellow staff members. Inform them of any special assistance that may be required in the event of an alarm or emergency and secure their agreement to provide or obtain that assistance.

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