Evacuation for Persons with Functional Needs

During an evacuation, rescue personnel should check all exit corridors and exit stairwells for any stranded person. Please be ready to physically assist in the evacuation of disabled persons. If the emergency is not imminent and there are no problems in evacuating the person, place him/her next to or in a stairwell, and stay with the stranded person. Elevators may be used to evacuate disabled ONLY after it has been declared safe to use. If assistance cannot be located, call Public Safety (909-748-8888) or Facilities Management (909-748-8020) and ask for assistance. Always ASK how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue or assistance. Ask how the person can best be moved and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.

Evacuating visually impaired persons:

  • Tell the person the nature of the emergency. Offer to guide him/her by offering your left/right elbow. Do not grab the person's arm.

  • Be sure the person brings with them all mobility aides such as white canes. The individual may have a guide dog that may be disoriented. Ask the advice of the person who is blind regarding your level of assistance.

  • Give verbal directions to advise about the safest routes. Use compass directions, estimated distances and directional terms to orientate the person. As you walk, describe where you are and advise of any obstacles such as overhanging objects, curbs, etc.

  • When you have reached a safe location, orient the person to where she/he is and ask if any further assistance is needed.

Evacuating hearing impaired persons:

  • Write a note stating the emergency and the evacuation route (e.g., Fire: go out the rear door to parking lot.).

  • Turn the room lights on and off (if safe to do so) to gain attention. Indicate through hand gestures what is happening and what to do.

Evacuating persons with limited mobility (e.g., using crutches, canes, or walkers):

For evacuation purposes such persons should be treated as if they were injured. Carrying options include using a two-person lock arm position or having the person sit in a sturdy chair, preferably with arms. See "Transferring a person" below.

Evacuating persons who are non-ambulatory:

  • When evacuating always ask what method of assistance the person prefers.

  • Not all persons can be removed from their wheelchairs and carried safely. The person may have a physical condition that contraindicates lifting such as heart conditions or back problems or other severe physical complications.

  • If transferring someone out of their wheelchair, note the location of the wheelchair and upon exiting the building immediately inform Public Safety of the location of the wheelchair so they can retrieve it.

  • Those with electric artificial respirators should be given priority assistance if there is smoke or fumes.

  • Persons with chronic pain, catheter leg bags, fragility, or braces may not be able to extend or move extremities.

Transferring a person:

  • Check that the individual is not at risk when transferred or carried. The lifts/carries below can be employed.

  • Pack-strap carry.

    Semi-ambulatory person may lean against assistant's back while assistant holds both persons arms over assistant's shoulders. The assistant leans forward slightly to take most of the person's weight.

  • Two-handed seat.

    Two assistants link arms to form a backrest and grip wrists to form a seat.

  • Two-person carry.

    Two assistants carry person by extremities. One assistant stands behind and wraps arms around person's chest under person's arms. Second assistant stands facing away from the person between their legs and lifts person's legs under knees with each arm or can cross the person's legs over and carry them to one side, thus freeing one hand to open doors, etc.

Moving a person in a wheelchair down or up a flight of stairs:

  • If the person is to be moved in their wheelchair it is desirable to have a minimum of two assisting persons, with four assisting persons preferred for adults with heavy wheelchairs.

  • Secure the wheelchair seatbelt.

  • The wheelchair battery may have to be removed.

  • Wheelchairs have many movable weak parts which were not constructed to withstand the stress of lifting (e.g., the seatbar, footplates, wheels, movable armrests). The strongest person(s) should grip the chair handles at the back. Other assisting person(s) will grip the front seat frame or non-removable leg rests.

  • Always keep the wheelchair facing away from the stairs.

  • ROLL the wheelchair up or down the stairs. Do NOT carry as this may cause back trouble for the assistant. Let the wheelchair carry the weight.

  • Keep the wheelchair slightly tilted back to keep the wheelchair user secure. However, do not tilt too far as this could cause the assistant to lose balance and pitch forward.