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Special Needs Evacuations

What to do in case of . . . Evacuations for Persons with Special Needs

Evacuation Options:

Persons without disabilities must evacuate to the nearest exit. Persons with disabilities have four basic evacuation options:

Horizontal Evacuation:

Using building exits to the outside ground level or going into unaffected wings of multi–building complexes.
 
Vertical Evacuation:
Using stairway steps to reach ground level exits from the building.

Stay in Place:

Unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire resistant door. With this approach, the person may keep in contact with the Public Safety Dispatch Center by dialing 412-392-3960 and reporting his or her location directly. The Public Safety Dispatch Center will immediately relay this location to on-site Point Park Public Safety personnel, who will determine the necessity for evacuation. Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies. If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object.
 
The Stay in Place approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings or buildings where an "area of refuge" is not nearby or available. It may also be more appropriate for an occupant who is alone when the alarm sounds. A "solid" or fire resistant door can be identified by a fire label on the jam and frame. Non-labeled 1 3/4 inch thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.

Area of Refuge:

With an evacuation assistant, going to an area of refuge away from obvious danger. The evacuation assistant will then go to the building evacuation assembly point and notify the onsite emergency personnel of the location of the person with a disability. Emergency personnel will determine if further evacuation is necessary.
 
Usually, the safest areas of refuge are pressurized stair enclosures common to high–rise buildings, and open-air exit balconies. Other possible areas of refuge include: fire rated corridors or vestibules adjacent to exit stairs and pressurized elevator lobbies. Many campus buildings feature fire rated corridor construction that may offer safe refuge. Taking a position in a rated corridor next to the stair is a good alternative to a small stair landing crowded with the other building occupants using the stairway. For assistance in identifying areas of refuge, call the Point Park Public Safety Department.
 
For false or needless alarms or an isolated and contained fire, a person with a disability may not have to evacuate. The decision to evacuate will be made by either the Point Park Public Safety Department or the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire.

Mobility Impaired - Wheelchair:

Persons using wheelchairs should stay in place, or move to an area of refuge with their assistant when the alarm sounds. The evacuation assistant should then proceed to the evacuation assembly point outside the building and tell the Point Park Public Safety Department the location of the person with a disability. If the person with a disability is alone, he/she should phone the Public Safety Dispatch Center at 412-392-3960 with their present location and the area of refuge they are headed too.
 
If the stair landing is chosen as the area of refuge, please note that many campus buildings have relatively small stair landings, and wheelchair users are advised to wait until the heavy traffic has passed before entering the stairway.
 
Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by trained professionals. Only in situations of extreme danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair users.

Mobility Impaired - Non Wheelchair:

Persons with mobility impairments, who are able to walk independently, may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. If danger is imminent, the individual should wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. If there is no immediate danger (detectable smoke, fire, or unusual odor), the person with a disability may choose to stay in the building, using the other options, until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.

Hearing Impaired:

Persons with hearing impairments may not hear audio emergency alarms nor see fire alarm strobe lights and will need to be alerted of emergency situations. Emergency instructions can be given by writing a short explicit note to evacuate.

Visually Impaired:

Most people with a visual impairment will be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes. Since the emergency evacuation route is likely different from the commonly traveled route, persons who are visually impaired may need assistance in evacuating. The assistant should offer their elbow to the individual with a visual impairment and guide him or her through the evacuation route. During the evacuation the assistant should communicate as necessary to assure safe evacuation.