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Guidelines for People With Disabilities in Emergencies
Persons with disabilities should prepare for an emergency situation before hand and should be familiar with your needs during an evacuation. You are encouraged to convey these needs to your instructor at the beginning of each semester. While attending class, try to position yourself near a doorway for an easier exit. Become familiar with the building and its exits.
The following guidelines are important to follow:
BUILDING MARSHALS and volunteers should familiarize themselves with these procedures in order to assist in planning for the evacuation of people with physical and sensory disabilities.
The same procedure outlined for the Mobility Impaired should be used. Crutches, canes and walkers should NOT be left behind.
Evacuation is difficult and uncomfortable for both the rescuers and the people being assisted. Some people have conditions that can be aggravated or triggered if they are moved incorrectly. Remember that environmental conditions (smoke, debris, loss of electricity) will complicate evacuation efforts. The following guidelines are general and may not apply in every circumstance.
Occupants should be invited to volunteer ahead of time to assist disabled People in an emergency. If a volunteer is not available, designate someone to assist who is willing to accept the responsibility. Volunteers should obtain evacuation training for certain types of lifting techniques. Two or more trained volunteers, if available, should conduct the evacuation and relay teams established if the evacuation is more than three flights.
Always ask disabled people how you can help before attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask how they can best be assisted or moved, and if there are any special considerations or items that need to come with them. Lifting a person may be harmful. Ask their preference about being carried forward or backward down a flight of stairs. Ask whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along. Wheelchairs were not designed to handle the stress of lifting. Batteries may have to be removed and life support equipment could be connected.
Before attempting an evacuation, volunteers and people being assisted should discuss how any lifting will be done and where they are going. Proper lifting techniques (e.g., bending the knees, keeping the back straight, holding the person close before lifting, and using leg muscles to lift) should be used to avoid injury to rescuers' backs. Ask permission of the evacuee if an evacuation chair or similar device is being considered as an aid in an evacuation. When using such devices, make sure the person is secured properly. Rest at landings if necessary. Certain lifts may need to be modified depending on a person's disability.
In situations where the wheelchair user must be carried up or down a flight of steps it is desirable to have a minimum of two assisting persons, with four assisting person preferred for adults or heavy persons. The strongest person(s) should be placed at the back of the chair, It is also advisable to check to see if anyone has any physical condition that contraindicates lifting, such as heart condition or back problems.
There are generally two methods which can be used to assist a person in a wheelchair over a curb or single step. The wheelchair can be rolled down off the curb, or the step: backwards or forwards, Which method used depends upon the preference of the user, the environmental situation, the strength of the assisting person, and the confidence the wheelchair user has in the assistant. As in all activities, if the wheelchair user does not have sitting balance, a seat belt should be attached to the wheelchair and used.
This is the least taxing method on the assisting person and usually the safest for the wheelchair user, is to turn the wheelchair around until it can be rolled off the step or curb backwards.
Holding tightly to the handles, back the wheelchair down off the curb. Let the rear wheels roll down over the edge. Additional support can be furnished by pressing a hip against the back of the chair as it comes off of the edge. (See figure 1.)
This method is effective if the assisting person is experienced in handling wheelchairs. It is most useful on crowded street corners and places where the wheelchair cannot be turned around to go off an edge backwards. The wheelchair user should have on a safety belt or be holding to the chair to prevent being thrown forward out of the wheelchair.
Can be used to roll the wheelchair over the following types of terrain: going over railroad tracks and grates embedded in the street or sidewalks; soft lawns, sand, snow, etc., even deep pile carpets. This type of terrain tend to throw the front wheels aside or cause them to sink in, making the progress difficult if not impossible. Lifting the front wheels of the surface gives the assisting person more control over the wheelchair.
If the assisting person is not strong enough (although it actually takes little physical strength if the wheelchair is kept balanced) or doesn‘t feel confident, it is advisable to turn the wheelchair around and go backwards over rough terrain, This also puts the front wheels out of the way as they are following rather than guiding the wheelchair. Remember not to tilt the chair too far backwards.
Figure 2 description
The following represents the varying weights, lengths, and widths of wheelchairs, both electric and manual, with person in it. The American National Standards Institute states that doorway widths should be 32 inches.
To Open Chair:
To Fold Chair:
Fold up the footplates, tilt chair to one side, and lift upward on seat rail or on upholstery next to seat rail. For chairs with detachable or offset arms (fig.4), fold by lifting carrying straps. Remove the seat cushion, back rest, or any other such additional equipment. Push heel straps (clips, leg rests, etc.) forward and fold the foot plates up. (fig 5). If seat straps are available (loops attached to either side of seat frame), grip both straps and pull up. If seat straps are not available, grip the center, front and back edges, of the seat and pull up. This should fold the wheelchair in half. Kept the seat pushed down between the frames and the back rest pushed back. This will allow for optimal closure.
Figure 5. When folding the wheelchair be sure the footplates are all the way up against the leg frames.
Two Handed Carry
Figure 6. Two handed carry hold. Place one hand over carrying partners shoulder and grasp wrist of carrying partners other arm.
Figure 7. Complete two handed carry by placing disabled individual in cradle created by the clasped arms of the two carriers.
Figure 8. Place disabled individual in a chair. One person lifts the back of the chair while another lifts the front and carries the individual to safety.
Figure 9. Place disabled individuals arms over your shoulders, cross the arms and grasp opposite wrists. Squat and bend slightly at the waist to support the disabled individual’s weight with your legs.
Figure 10. Each bearer grasps one of his wrists and one of the other bearer's wrists, thus forming
Figure 11. Drape injured individuals arm over your neck.
Carry by Extremities
Figure 12. Grab injured individual from behind and cross arms over their chest while another person grabs the injured individual by the legs.