Handling Emergencies

Occasionally, a student's condition may need immediate intervention in the classroom; such as with seizures, diabetic shock (insulin reaction), heart attacks and fainting. Should such a situation arise, call campus Protective Services (3456) immediately. Give the building name, room number, and description of the emergency. If the situation calls for immediate emergency medical attention you can also call 9-911 from a campus phone.

Students with Mobility Limitations

One of the biggest concerns in building evacuation is students with mobility limitations. Most wheelchair users will be able to exit safely without assistance if on the ground floor. However, elevators will not operate and should not be used during a fire alarm. Normally, if there is no immediate danger (obvious smoke or fire), a student with mobility limitations should either stay in place or be moved to a fire-rated stairwell until emergency personnel determine the nature of the situation. Someone should be designated to remain with the student while the faculty member meets emergency personnel and tells them where the student is located. It is extremely important that the student not be moved unnecessarily and improperly, possibly causing physical injury. Consult Risk Management's established emergency evacuation procedures.

Naturally, if there is imminent danger and evacuation cannot be delayed, the student with a disability should be carried or helped from the building in the best and fastest manner. The student with a disability is the best authority as to how to be moved out of the building. An evacuee may be carried using a two-person locked arm position or may sit in a sturdy chair, preferably one with arms. The best procedure is to let professional emergency personnel assist in the evacuation of these students.

Additional Evacuation Considerations

  1. Wheelchairs have many movable or weak parts that were not constructed to withstand the stress of lifting (e.g., the seat bar, foot plates, wheels, movable arm rests).
  2. Some students in wheelchairs may have electric artificial respirators attached. These persons should be given priority assistance if smoke or fumes are present, since their ability to breathe will be seriously jeopardized.
  3. Some wheelchair users have no strength in the upper trunk or neck.
  4. If the wheelchair must be left behind, remove it from the stairwell and set it where it does not block others.
  5. 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.
  6. If a seat belt is available, secure the student in the chair.
  7. If you are carrying a student more than three flights, a relay team may be needed.

Visually Impaired Students

Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with the immediate area they are in. In the event of an emergency, explain the nature of the emergency to the student and offer to guide her/him to the nearest exit. Have the student 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 located and advise him or her of any obstacles. When you have reached safety, orient the person to where they are located and ask if any further assistance is needed.

Hearing-Impaired Students

Since persons with impaired hearing may not perceive audio emergency alarms, an alternative warning technique is required. Two methods of warning are:

  1. Write a note explaining the emergency 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; then indicate through gestures or in writing what is happening and what action to take.

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

Students with Seizure Disorders

In the event that a student experiences a seizure in the classroom or other location on campus:

  1. Keep calm. Ease the person to the floor and open the collar of the shirt. You cannot stop the seizure. Let it run its course and do not try to revive the person.
  2. Remove hard, sharp, or hot objects which may injure the person, but do not interfere with the person's movements.
  3. Do not force anything between the person's teeth.
  4. Turn the person's head to one side for release of saliva. Place something soft under the head.
  5. Make sure that breathing is unobstructed but do not be concerned if breathing is irregular.
  6. When the person regains consciousness, let her/him rest as long as desired.
  7. If the seizure lasts beyond a few minutes, or if the person seems to pass from one seizure to another without regaining consciousness, contact emergency medical technicians. This rarely happens, but when it does, it should be treated immediately.