Faculty/Staff Emergency Procedure Responsibilities
Emergencies such as fires and earthquakes may occur and drills are conducted to prepare the campus community for the possibility of an emergency. Instructors and staff should develop a plan of action if they are aware that they work with a student who has mobility, visual, hearing, or other inhibiting limitations. Ultimately, the person with a disability is responsible for his/her own safety in an emergency situation, but it is important that staff and classroom instructors play a role in student evacuation. If there is no safe means of evacuation for disabled persons from any given classroom or you need assistance in developing a plan, contact the Director of Disability and Learning Services (ext. 3039) in conjunction with the Director of Campus Safety (ext. 3000).
Students Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
Students who are blind or have low vision should already be familiar with their surroundings after mobility and orientation training. They may not, however, be aware of emergency exits. Depending upon the nature of the emergency, during crisis periods, there may be a lot of commotion and noise. A student who is blind may not be able to orient himself or herself as well as in calmer times. Your assistance is critical to their safety.
- In case of emergencies, alert the student to the nature of the situation. Offer assistance to the student and guide him or her to the nearest emergency exit and to the evacuation assembly area.
- A good way of offering assistance to a person who is blind is to use what is known as the sighted guide technique. You do this by offering this person an elbow, do not grab them. The person holds on to your elbow, and you proceed ahead.
- As you walk, alert the student to where he or she is and inform him or her of any obstacles, debris, doorways, or narrow passages.
- Once safe, orient the student to his or her surroundings and determine if further assistance is needed.
Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may not hear alarms or other audible warnings. Instructors should inform the student of an emergency. In most instances, an interpreter/ transcriber will be in the classroom to explain the emergency to the student. Provide any assistance a student might need during the evacuation process. There are three ways to get this person's attention:
- Write a note for the student alerting him or her to the emergency and instructing him or her where to go.
- Turn the light switch off and on to gain attention.
- Tap his or her shoulder.
Students with Mobility Limitations
In preparation for a building evacuation, individuals with mobility limitations should know of evacuation procedures suitable for them. The location of the classroom will often dictate the best course of action in the event of an evacuation. Elevators should not be used during an evacuation because they may not go directly to the appropriate floor, they may fail and trap people inside, and/or elevator shafts act as chimneys in funneling toxic smoke and fumes during structure fires.
Ground Level Floors
- Instructor/staff should discuss evacuation procedures with mobility-impaired students and inform them of the appropriate routes of egress, accessible exits (no steps), and evacuation assembly areas. Disabled persons may have to use an alternative evacuation route on certain ground level floors.
- Instructor/staff should be prepared to assist the student out of the building and to the assembly areas. Depending upon the student's impairment, the instructor may recruit student volunteers at the beginning of the semester to assist the disabled student. In order to avoid injury or blocking egress, instructors and classmates should not assist students with mobility limitations down stairwells.
- Assistants should inform students with mobility limitations of their intention to assist them in the evacuation and ask how they should help. No one should grab a student without their approval as there may be certain special considerations.
Upper Level Floors (Grimm Hall only)
- Individuals with mobility limitations should be assisted to the stairwell and placed in an area outside of the path of egress (area of refuge).
- Let him or her know you will be contacting appropriate rescue personnel. Take note of their location (i.e. stairwell Grimm Hall South Building, 2nd floor).
- In most instances, no one should attempt to carry a person in a wheelchair; you can injure yourself or the student.
- Instructors should assist the student in retrieving his or her cell phone so that it is accessible to the student.
- The instructor/staff should alert emergency personnel of the location and need for evacuation of the person with a disability.
Elevator Breakdowns and Repair
Elevator breakdowns can occur and become life-threatening to a person who uses a wheelchair. When an elevator ceases to operate, press the Call Button immediately to contact Campus Safety. If a person who uses a wheelchair is stuck on an upper-level floor and uses a respirator to breathe, time is of the essence. Consult with the person in question to determine the amount of oxygen remaining in the respirator and assess their desire for emergency rescue. If you become alert to long-term repair issues with an elevator and you have a student taking a class in an upper-level classroom, contact the Registrar (ext. 3080) about getting the class changed to another site.