Forever Green
Campaign for Northwest
Menu & Search

Emergency Evacuation Guidelines for Persons with Disabilities

Pre Emergency Preparation for Everyone

  1. Be familiar with buildings and their exits.
  2. Be familiar with the campus emergency alarm system. The Simplex alarm system is specific in its instructions to take cover or to evacuate the building.
  3. Be aware of weather conditions and be proactive. Stay inside and on the ground floor whenever possible during tornado and/or severe thunderstorm watches.

Student Responsibilities

  • In an emergency situation, it is critical to your health and safety that YOU are familiar with your needs during an evacuation.
  • You are expected to convey these needs to your instructors and appropriate campus staff (i.e. RA, hall director, advisor, job supervisor, tutors, etc.) within the first week of each semester.
  • Whenever possible, in any emergency, try to have a designated person assist you during the evacuation. Please keep in mind the safety of this person during the evacuation.
  • Know the safest method to use to assist you.
  • Know how many people you need to provide you with assistance.
  • Be prepared to explain how and where a person(s) should support you. Practice instructions beforehand.
  • If you need assistance determining your needs, contact the Northwest Environmental Health and Safety Department at x-1475.

Faculty/Staff Responsibilities

Faculty and staff:

  • are responsible for knowing the evacuation plan established for their department by Northwest Environmental Health and Safety Department.
  • will discuss evacuation procedures ahead of time with students in their classes who might have problems leaving the building during emergencies.
  • will provide assistance according to the student's directions given in the beginning of each semester when the situation involves a student with a disability.

General Fire Evacuation Procedure

In the event of a fire alarm:

  • Check to make sure the hallway is clear of smoke.
  • Proceed to the area designated by Northwest Environmental Health and Safety Department for your department.
  • Campus Safety and Maryville Public Safety and other emergency services will respond rapidly.
  • Report situations and locations of persons needing assistance to emergency responders.
  • All stairwells marked "Emergency Exit" are fire-rated to provide protection for two (2) hours. These are called "Areas of Refuge".

General Tornado Evacuation Procedure

In the event of a tornado:

  • Proceed to the area in the building that has been designated by Northwest Environmental Health and Safety Department for your department.
  • The safest place to be is in the interior hallway on the lowest floor. If it's not possible to be on the lowest floor, get to an interior hallway. The most important rule is to get away from windows. If possible, get under a sturdy table or some other structure.

Emergency Response for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with Mobility Limitations

  • Most elevators will not operate (should not be used) during a fire alarm.
  • If there is no immediate danger (obvious smoke or fire), a person with mobility limitations should either stay in place or be moved to an emergency exit stairwell. These are considered "Areas of Refuge".
  • Report the situation and location to emergency response personnel.
  • Emergency personnel will determine the nature of the situation and decide upon appropriate response.
  • It is extremely important that the person with mobility limitations not be moved unnecessarily and improperly, possibly causing further physical injury.
  • Officials may decide that no evacuation is necessary, they may remove the person using the elevator with an override key, or they may carry the person out of the building using special techniques and evacuation chairs.
  • If there is imminent danger and evacuation cannot be delayed, the person with a disability should be carried or helped from the building in the best and fastest manner.
  • The person with a disability is the best authority as to how to be moved out of the building. The best procedure is to let professional emergency personnel assist in the evacuation.

Adapted from: Ball State University

Additional Evacuation Considerations:

  • Wheelchairs have many movable or weak parts that were not constructed to withstand the distress of lifting (e.g., the seat bar, foot plates, wheels, movable arm rests).
  • Some persons in wheelchairs may have electric artificial respirators attached. These persons should be given priority assistance if smoke and fumes are present, since their ability to breathe will be seriously jeopardized.
  • Some persons have no strength in their upper trunk or neck.
  • If the wheelchair is left behind, remove it from the stairwell and leave it where it does not block others.
  • Remove the batteries from a power wheelchair before attempting to transport it. Make sure that the foot rests are locked and the motor is off.
  • If a seat belt is available, secure the person in the chair.
  • If you are carrying a person more than three flights, a relay team may be needed.

Adapted from: Ball State University

Visually Impaired Persons

Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with the immediate area they are in.

In the event of an emergency:

  • Tell the person specifically how and where to exit.
  • Have the person take your elbow and escort him or her (this is the preferred method when acting as a "sighted guide").
  • As you walk, tell the person where you are and advise him or her of any obstacles.
  • When you have reached safety, orient the person to where he or she is and ask if any further assistance is needed.

Adapted from: Ball State University

Hearing Impaired Students

Since persons with impaired hearing may not perceive audio emergency alarms, an alternative warning technique is required. The Simplex alarm strobe lights will help provide visual warning.

Two methods of warning are the following:

  1. Write a note telling what the emergency is and the nearest evacuation route. (Example: "Fire -- go out rear door to right and down. Now!")
  2. Turn the light switch on and off to gain attention, and then indicate through gestures or in writing what is happening and what to do.

It may be prudent to escort the hearing impaired person as you leave the building.

Adapted from: Ball State University

Diabetic Students: Diabetic Reactions

Insulin reaction/shock:

Results from too rapid a drop in blood sugar levels when a diabetic has eaten too little or exercised too much.


Comes on rapidly and includes extreme hunger, nervousness, perspiration, skin pale and moist, thirsty, rapid pulse and increasing confusion progressing to unconsciousness.

  • If unconscious, get help immediately. This is a medical emergency. Call 911.
  • If conscious, give orange juice, candy, soft drink or sugar. Check breathing. Call 911.
  • Do not leave alone. Do not give fluids if unconscious.

Diabetic Coma (rare):

Results from insufficient insulin. Develops more slowly than insulin shock but is more serious.


  • Includes deep breathing, flushed, dry skin, and sweet odor on breath. Call 911.
  • Do not leave alone. Do not give fluids.

NOTE: Always look for an identifying bracelet which may reveal a person's condition.

Adapted from: Penn State University

Epileptic Students

First Aid for Seizures

  • Call 911
  • Remain calm. Students will assume the same emotional reaction as the faculty or staff member. The seizure is painless to the person who is experiencing it.
  • Do not try to restrain the person. There is nothing you can do to stop the seizure once it has begun; it must run its course.
  • Clear the area around the person so that he or she does not injure him- or herself on hard or sharp objects. Try not to interfere with movements in any way.
  • Do not force anything between the teeth. If the person's mouth is already open, you might place a soft object like a handkerchief between the side teeth.
  • It is not generally necessary to call a doctor unless the attack is followed almost immediately by another major seizure, or the seizure lasts more than about ten minutes.
  • When the seizure is over, let the person rest if he or she needs to.
Source: Epilepsy Foundation of America

Other University Emergency Resources