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People with Disabilities

The following guidelines have been adopted by the UC Merced campus to assist evacuating people with physical disabilities.

After an evacuation has been ordered:

  • Always ASK someone with a disability how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask how he or she can best be assisted or moved, and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.
  • Evacuate people with disabilities if possible.
  • Do not use elevators, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel. Elevators could fail during a fire, heavy wind or rain.
  • If the situation is life threatening, call 911.
  • Check on people with special needs during an evacuation. A "buddy system," where people with disabilities have volunteers (co-workers/neighbors) alert them and assist them, is a good method.
  • Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance.

Response to Emergencies

To assist individuals with blindness or visual impairment:

  • Give verbal instructions about safest route using compass directions, estimated distances and directional terms.
  • Do not grasp a visually impaired person's arm. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit, especially if there is debris or a crowd.
  • Give other verbal instructions or information (i.e. elevators cannot be used).

To assist individuals who are deaf or have hearing impairment:

  • Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch and eye contact. Clearly state the problem. Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.
  • Offer visual instructions about safest route by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.

To assist individuals with mobility impairment:

  • It may be necessary to help clear debris from the exit route (if possible) so the disabled person can move out or to a safer area.
  • If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, they should move to a safer area, i.e.
  • Most enclosed stairwells
  • An office with the door shut with is a good distance from the hazard (and away from falling debris in the case of earthquakes)
  • If you do not know the safer areas in your building, call the campus Fire Marshal’s office for a building survey.
  • Notify police or fire personnel immediately about any people remaining in the building and their locations.
  • Police or fire personnel will decide whether people are safe where they are, and will evacuate them as necessary. The Fire Department may determine that it is safe to override the rule against using elevators.
  • If people are in immediate danger and cannot be moved to a safer area to wait for assistance, it may be necessary to evacuate them using an evacuation chair or a carry technique.

Power Outages

  • If an outage occurs during the day and people with disabilities choose to wait in the building for electricity to be restored, they can move near a window where there is natural light. Make sure there is access to a working telephone. During regular building hours, building managers should be notified so they can advise emergency personnel.
  • If people would like to leave and an evacuation has been ordered, or if the outage occurs at night, call the UC Merced Police Department at 228-2677 from a campus telephone to request evacuation assistance from the fire department.
  • Some multi-button campus telephones may not operate in a power outage, but single-line telephones and blue emergency phones are likely to be operating.

Evacuating an injured person yourself is the last resort. Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt. Do not make an emergency worse. Evacuation is difficult and uncomfortable for both the rescuers and 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.