What happens in Case of Emergency
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. Do you have a plan in place to evacuate a multi-story building if the elevator goes out?
An out-of-order elevator presents a minor inconvenience for most people, but it’s a major challenge for wheelchair users. Add in an emergency evacuation, and the situation can become life-threatening.
While there are numerous resources and information available to plan for these situations, many wheelchair users and those who assist them are ill-prepared to navigate stairs in the case of an emergency or elevator outage.
“Situational awareness is the answer. Know if the building has ‘stair descent devices’ available and who will assist you to go down,” says Daniel Porth, human services coordinator for the Arizona Department of Emergency & Military Affairs (DEMA), Division of Emergency Management. “The most overlooked steps [when preparing for emergencies] include not taking personal responsibility for individual preparedness and not having situational awareness.”
Practice Makes Perfect
Stair descent devices include evacuation chairs, which are often located in the stairwells of multi-story schools, hospitals, government buildings, hotels and other buildings.
Unfortunately, these devices are often neglected until the evacuation situation presents itself, and this neglect can hinder a timely, efficient evacuation.