Individuals with Disabilities
The likelihood that you will recover from an emergency tomorrow depends a great deal on the planning you do today. While each person's needs and abilities are unique, everyone can take steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies. By evaluating your own personal needs and making a plan that fits those needs, you can be better prepared for an emergency.
To request this information in an alternate format, please contact Accessibility Resources (719-227-8285; Learning Commons in Tutt Library).
Consider these actions whether you are a student or employee
- Notify the College of any assistance you may need in the event of an emergency. Students requesting assistance in planning for their needs during an emergency should meet with Accessibility Resources and employees with Human Resources. Campus Safety will be informed of pertinent information regarding an individual’s needs for assistance during an emergency. Campus Safety will keep this information in written format in a location that is easily accessed by Campus Safety personnel during an emergency.
- Please print and complete the Emergency Assistance Self-Identification for Individuals with Disabilities to describe assistance you may need during a building evacuation and when sheltering-in-place. Please return the form to the appropriate office.
- If you choose to not meet with Accessibility Resources or Human Resources, please contact Campus Safety to apprise them of your needs during an emergency and to inform them of where you live, take classes, and/or work.
- In the event of an emergency, Campus Safety will provide emergency responders with the information on record regarding the needs and locations of individuals with disabilities. Please note, though, that an individual's immediate location will not always be known by campus safety.
- If you need individualized notification assistance in the event of an emergency (e.g., text messaging or e-mail), please notify Accessibility Resources, Human Resources, and/or Campus Safety to make appropriate arrangements.
- Carry a cell phone preprogrammed with the Campus Safety emergency number (719-389-6911) and the off-campus number for police, fire, and/or ambulance assistance (911).
- If you need assistance during an emergency, call Campus Safety and 911 to notify them of your location, giving the building, floor, room, and time.
- If you do not have a cell phone, please notify Accessibility Resources; the College will provide you with a cell phone that will receive emergency messages and will be programmed to call Campus Safety and 911.
- Ask several reliable people in your residence hall, classes (including your professors), and/or place of work to assist you in case of emergency. Provide them with information on the best way to do so and tell them where you keep your emergency supplies. If applicable, show them how to operate your assistive devices.
- Know the size and weight of your assistive devices, in addition to whether or not they are collapsible, in case they have to be transported.
- If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one treatment facility.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability.
- Be prepared to give instructions to those assisting you in an emergency regarding your needs, such as: “I need to hang onto you. I have poor balance, but I can walk down steps."
Assisting Individuals with Disabilities
The following are general guidelines for assisting people with disabilities who may have difficulty exiting during fire and other emergencies. These guidelines may not apply in every circumstance.
- 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.
- Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt.
- Alert emergency personnel if you are aware that persons with disabilities have remained in the building or have exited and need additional assistance.
Blindness or Visual Impairment
- Most people who are blind or have a visual impairment will be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes. However, since the emergency evacuation route may be different from the commonly traveled route, persons with visual impairments may need assistance in evacuating.
- During an emergency, announce your presence when entering the person’s area.
- Communicate as necessary to ensure safe evacuation. For example, advise the individual of any obstacles, debris, stairs, narrow passages, and elevators that are not operational. Give verbal instructions to advise about the safest route or direction using compass directions, estimated distances, and directional terms.
- Do not grasp the arm of a person with a visual impairment. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your elbow or arm as you exit.
- When possible, plan for a service animal to be evacuated with the owner.
- Be aware that a service animal’s sense of direction may become confused during an emergency.
Deafness or Hard of Hearing
- Get the attention of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing by tapping the individual on the shoulder and making eye contact. Clearly state the problem.
- Speak using short sentences.
- Check to be sure you are understood.
- Gestures and pointing may be helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.
- Offer visual instructions or advise of the safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.
Mobility Impairment – Non-wheelchair Users
- Persons with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. If there is no immediate danger (such as detectable smoke, fire, or unusual odor), the person with the disability may choose to stay in the building until emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.
- When a person with a mobility impairment makes the decision to exit, do not interfere with the person’s movement unless the person asks for your assistance.
- If the stairs are crowded, you may act as a buffer.
- When possible and safe to do so, clear obstacles from the exit route.
Mobility Impairment – Wheelchair Users
- If you feel it is safe to do so, assist persons who cannot negotiate the exit by helping them move laterally away from any obvious danger or to an enclosed stairwell, if available.
- Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted only by trained professionals or the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Attempt a rescue evacuation only if requested by the person with a disability and if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance.
- Those exiting the building should alert Campus Safety and emergency personnel of the locations of persons with disabilities who remain in the building.
- Understand that persons with psychological disabilities may have difficulties in concentrating, handling stress, and initiating personal contact.
- Help reduce stress during an emergency by offering to escort the person through the evacuation and giving clear and simple instructions.
- Please note that psychological disabilities may not be readily apparent.