Because elevators should not be used for evacuation during a fire alarm, people with mobility impairments will need assistance in evacuating unless they are on a ground floor with accessible exits.
As people with mobility impairments have varying degrees of impairments, information is offered for two possible scenarios.
People with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently, including those who use crutches or a cane, may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency situation with minor assistance. Even those who customarily use a wheelchair or scooter for long distance travel may be able to walk independently in an emergency.
If danger is imminent and the person is able to walk down stairs with some assistance, we advise that they wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting to evacuate. Someone should walk beside the person with a disability to provide assistance, if needed.
If it is apparent that there is no immediate danger, the person may choose to stay in the building until emergency personnel arrive and determine whether they need to evacuate.
In situations of false alarms or a small fire, evacuating people with mobility impairments may not be necessary at all; however, only qualified emergency personnel should make this decision.
Evacuating people who are not able to walk can be more complicated.
If there is no immediate danger, the person with a disability should proceed or ask for assistance to the nearest exterior stairwell or safe area of refuge to await emergency personnel.
University police should be contacted (765-285-1111) to alert emergency personnel of the location of the person with a disability.
When possible, someone should remain in the facility with the person with the disability while another individual exits the building and notifies emergency personnel of the person with a disability’s exact location.
If emergency personnel determine that there is a need to evacuate a person, trained rescue professionals will assist in the evacuation.
Only in situations of extreme and immediate danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate a wheelchair user. There is significant risk to the person with a disability especially if the person has limited control of their body, is more prone to broken bones, or uses apparatuses such as respirators or catheters. Additionally, untrained people attempting to evacuate a person with a disability are at risk of injury, especially if attempting to carry a power wheelchair.
If danger is imminent, the person with a disability is the best authority on how they should be moved. Ask before you attempt to move someone!
While it is best to let the professional emergency personnel conduct the evacuation, a person with a mobility impairment can be carried by two people who have interlocked arms to form a chair or by carrying the person in a sturdy office chair.