Evacuation of Persons with Disabilities

  • Always consult with the disabled person regarding how to best assist them.
  • If you have students, faculty, or staff in your area who are disabled, pre-assign and train emergency help for disabled co-workers before an emergency occurs.
  • Be aware that faculty, staff and students with "hidden" disabilities (arthritis, cardiac conditions, and back problems, learning disabilities) may also need individual assistance.
  • Use the following list to train both helpers and disabled persons.
  • Consider adopting a "buddy system" naming who is responsible for whom.

To Assist Visually Impaired Persons:

            •    Announce the type of emergency.

            •    Offer your arm for guidance.

            •    Tell the person where you are going, obstacles you encounter.

            •    When you reach safety, ask if further help is needed.

To Alert People with Hearing Problems:

            •    Turn lights on/off to gain the person’s attention, or

            •    Indicate directions with gestures, or

            •    Write a note with evacuation directions

To Evacuate People Using Crutches, Canes, or Walkers:

           •    Evacuate these individuals as injured persons.

           •   Assist and accompany to evacuation site if possible, or

           •    Use a sturdy chair (or one with wheels) to move the person, or

           •    Help carry individual. 

To Evacuate Wheelchair Users:

  •    Non-ambulatory persons’ needs and preferences vary. Individuals at ground floor locations may exit without help.  Others have minimal ability to move. 
  •    Remember, lifting may be dangerous to you or them.
  •    Some non-ambulatory persons have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke and vapors immediately.  Wheelchair users with electrical respirators should get priority assistance.
  •    Most wheelchairs are too heavy to take down stairs.  Consult with the person to determine best carry options and reunite the person with the chair as soon as it is safe to do so.


Note: Do not put yourself or others in danger.  If you cannot safely evacuate an individual, get them to a stairwell or other easily identified “protected” location and notify the emergency responders as soon as possible of the individual’s situation and location.