Planning a Route

Posted: April 19, 2021 at 4:32 pm

Persons using wheelchairs should move to an area of assistance with their assistant when the alarm sounds or stay in place and call 911. The evacuation assistant should then proceed to the evacuation assembly point outside the building and tell the University Police or the  responding fire officials the location of the person with a special need. If the person with a special need is alone, he/she should phone emergency services at 911 with their present location and the Area of Assistance to which he/she is headed to. If the stair landing is chosen as the area of assistance, please note that many campus buildings have relatively small stair landings, and wheelchair users are advised to wait until the heavy traffic has passed before entering the stairway. Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by trained professionals (i.e. the fire department of other trained emergency responders). Moving a wheelchair down the stairs is never safe.

Mobility Impaired – Non-wheelchair

Persons with mobility impairments, who are able to walk independently, may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. If danger is imminent, the individual should wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. If there is no immediate danger (detectable smoke, fire, or unusual odor), the individual may choose to move to an Area of Assistance, call 911 with their location and wait until emergency personnel arrive.

Hearing Impaired

Most buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm strobe lights; however, some are not. Persons with hearing impairments may not hear audio emergency alarms and will need to be alerted of emergency situations. Emergency instructions can be given by writing a short note explicitly stating to evacuate.
Reasonable accommodations for persons with hearing impairments may be met by modifying the building fire alarm system, particularly for occupants who spend most of their day in one location. Persons needing such accommodations should contact the ADA Coordinator at 703-993-8730 or email ada@gmu.edu for assistance.

Visually Impaired

Most people with a visual impairment will be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes. Since the emergency evacuation route is likely different from the commonly traveled route, persons who are visually impaired may need assistance in evacuating. Identify evacuation assistants and practice evacuating with them often. The assistant should offer their elbow to the individual with a visual impairment and guide him or her through the evacuation route. During the evacuation the assistant should communicate as necessary to assure safe evacuation.

Write to Korey Singleton at ksinglet@gmu.edu