In an emergency, if there is no immediate danger, individuals who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments and who are on the ground floor should leave the building via the nearest exit. If the individual is not on the ground floor that person should either shelter in place or move to a fire rated stairwell until emergency personnel determine the nature of the situation. In many situations, a stairwell is a good place to await rescue as the individual will be in plain view and, providing that the stairwell door has been kept closed, there will be sufficient air even if the ventilation system in the building has been shut down. If the mobility impaired person has a personal aide, the aide should remain with the individual. He/she should call University Police to notify officers of their location.
If there is imminent danger and evacuation cannot be delayed, the individual with a disability should be carried or assisted from the building in the safest, fastest, and most suitable manner possible. The individual is the best authority on how to move him or her out of the building. The person assisting is covered by Good Samaritan laws.
Each semester, the Alfred State Coordinator for Student Accessibility Services updates University Police regarding the presence of any students who have disabilities that significantly impact their mobility. The notification serves to raise awareness regarding the potential need to assist with their evacuation during an emergency or alarm. In addition to notifying University Police, the Coordinator also notifies the student’s faculty members to raise their awareness and request their assistance if the emergency occurred during their class. The faculty are asked to assist and if unable or unwilling to do so, to notify us and alert UP to the location of the student in the building. In most situations, the student may be assisted by faculty, friends, or even passersby on their way out before UP is involved or requested in the student’s evacuation. For evacuations University Police is involved with, the evacuation chair located in the University Police’s back room may be utilized (i.e., building elevator not safe during the emergency).
The departmental expectation is that during a building evacuation, the dispatcher– after dispatching or requesting resources, will cross reference the list to determine if this issue is a potential concern and if so (the location and time of the evacuation matches with a known class schedule of a student with a mobility impairment), will notify the responding units of the potential concern as soon as practical via radio.
Individuals with visual impairments or blindness should be evacuated or shelter in place together with sighted students. In an emergency, an individual with a visual impairment may request (as appropriate) to be guided out of the building by a classmate/roommate/friend or college employee. An individual with a visual impairment should never be forced to accept a guide; however, in an emergency, no one should decline an individual’s request for one.
Deaf or Hearing Impaired
An individual with hearing loss may not perceive an audio emergency alarm or alternative warning techniques; therefore he/she may need to be escorted during egress as he/she may not be able to follow oral commands issued by authorities.
Individuals with psychological disabilities may become more anxious in an emergency situation than other individuals. Therefore, it is recommended that these individuals familiarize themselves each semester with multiple exit routes from areas that they frequent, i.e. the residence hall, classrooms, the dining facilities, etc.
Students with disabilities who live on campus should pre-plan by communicating with their Residence Director and Residence Assistant about emergency and evacuation procedures. The Coordinator of Disability Services will provide Residential Life a list of students at the beginning of each semester who may need assistance in the event of an emergency.
Mary Lupiani Farrell, Ph.D., ed. Adapting Emergency Procedures on Campus for Individuals with Disabilities. Boston, MA: The Association on Higher Education and Disability, 2001.