Macalester College is committed to developing and implementing procedures to assist students with disabilities during an emergency. However, students must create their own personal emergency plan that addresses their needs before and during an evacuation.
Pre-emergency Preparedness by the Student with a Disability
If you are a student with a disability and are concerned about your ability to safely evacuate in an emergency, you should:
- Discuss your concerns and options with the Assistant Dean of Students. The Assistant Dean can assist you in developing a plan to meet your needs in case of an emergency. If necessary, the Assistant Dean can work with the Safety and Security Department to know your whereabouts as appropriate.
- Bring to the attention of your faculty members, employers, coaches and roommates the extent of the assistance you may need in case of an emergency. It is your responsibility to make your needs known.
- Register your mobile-phone numbers and email address with the college’s Emergency Notification System, “Mac Alert”.
- Become familiar with all emergency exits and evacuation routes in the buildings you frequent.
- Identify people willing to serve as an emergency “buddy.” A buddy could be a classmate, class instructor, supervisor, roommate, co-worker or any individual who could be in the vicinity during a potential emergency. The buddy should be familiar with your needed assistance in advance of an emergency. The buddy will assist individuals in arriving at all evacuation areas, and a buddy should stay with you at all times during an emergency until the emergency has expired.
- If you have difficulty speaking loudly, or have a voice/speech impairment, you should carry a whistle, or have other means of attracting attention from others, at all times.
- When possible, students who have registered on the Mac Alert system will be contacted either by a cell phone text or e-mail if an emergency should happen.
- Elevators should NOT be used in an evacuation unless instructed by emergency personnel.
- School materials or any accessories should be left in the classroom or other room occupied to avoid wasting time in the event of an evacuation.
- In the event of an evacuation, students who are unable to exit the building on their own accord should remain near the stairwell or the elevator. Emergency personnel will check the stairwells and elevator lobbies for those who are trapped.
- Don't be afraid to let others know when you need assistance.
Assisting Students with a Disability During an Emergency
The highest priority will be given to evacuate students with disabilities in all emergency situations. If an individual wants to help a person with a disability, always ask how you can help before giving assistance. The following guidelines should be used in assisting individuals with specific disabilities:
- A wheelchair evacuation will only be attempted by a trained professional or unless it is necessary as a last resort in a life threatening situation.
- If located on an upper floor, individuals may be assisted to a stairwell landing to await evacuation or further instructions from Fire/Rescue or Police.
- If individuals can walk with assistance, a “buddy” should accompany the individual.
- Notify Police or Fire/Rescue authorities of the location of the person and the assistance needed.
- If a person prefers to be removed from their wheelchair, always ascertain their preference of: the manner of being removed, the number of people needed for assistance, whether to extend extremities, whether a seat cushion or pad must be used, being carried forward or backward on stairs, the need for immediate paramedic assistance upon exiting the building.
Blindness or visual impairment
- Those who have a cell phone will be notified by MacAlert in an emergency.
- The person with a disability should wait for assistance from someone who can act as a sighted guide, ideally their designated "buddy."
- If possible, someone should follow behind to protect the individual from being pushed down in the event of crowding.
- Tell the person the nature of the emergency and offer to guide the individual by offering an elbow. Do NOT grasp a visually impaired person's arm.
- The person assisting should give verbal instructions as to where they are and advise of any obstacles as they evacuate the building.
Deafness or hearing loss
- Depending on the level of hearing loss, individuals with impaired hearing may or may not be able to hear the emergency alarm. Those who have a cell phone and who registered will be notified by MacAlert of an emergency whenever possible.
- An alternative warning technique may be used to gain the attention of individuals. Turning the lights off and on and using hand gestures or a written note should be used to describe the emergency.
- In the event trained assistance is not available, an individual who can follow oral commands, possibly a “buddy,” should assist the student in evacuating.