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Emergency Procedures

During an emergency, faculty behavior is likely to influence student responses. Faculty who have a ready plan of action may be better prepared to handle an emergency in a calm and efficient manner. While this preparedness is important for the welfare of all the students in the class, it is essential for the student with disabilities in the classroom who may need extra help in dealing with the emergency. Instructors are not responsible for determining a student’s disability status, but in the event of an emergency, classroom instructors are expected to provide adequate assistance to students who self-identify as having a disability and are in need of assistance.

Building Evacuations

Techniques for evacuating students with disabilities vary with the nature of each student’s disability. In general:

  • Always ask the student how you can help before giving emergency evacuation assistance. Ask how he or she can best be assisted or moved, and if there are any special considerations or personal items or equipment that need to be taken.
  • Do not use elevators unless authorized by FDNY personnel.
  • Have a class roster and a working cell phone with emergency numbers available.
  • Students with Mobility Impairments

    Students with mobility impairments have varying degrees of limitations. Some may be ambulatory and others may not. Some students who customarily use a wheelchair or scooter for long distance travel may be able to walk independently in an emergency.

  • Encourage students with mobility impairments who are ambulatory to exit the building on their own, where possible. Designate someone to walk beside the students to provide assistance as needed. It is advisable that students wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting to evacuate. It also may be necessary to help clear their exit route of obstructions and/or debris.
  • Direct those students who cannot evacuate to an emergency rescue area and instruct them to remain there until emergency rescue personnel arrive. Alert emergency personnel of the students’ location and need for evacuation.
  • Do not attempt a rescue evacuation unless you had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance.
  • Students Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

    Students who are blind or have low vision should already be familiar with their surroundings after mobility and orientation training. They may not, however, be aware of emergency exits.

  • Alert students who are blind or have low vision to the nature of the situation. Offer assistance and guide the student to the nearest emergency exit and away from the building to safety.
  • Be aware that, depending upon the nature of the emergency, there may be a lot of commotion and noise. Students who are blind may not be able to orient themselves as well as in calmer times. Your assistance is critical to their safety.
  • Use what is known as the sighted guide technique by offering a person who is blind or has low vision your elbow. The person holds on to your elbow, and you proceed ahead.
  • Alert the student, as you walk, to where he is and inform him of any obstacles, debris, doorways, or narrow passages.
  • Orient the student, once you are safe, to his or her surroundings and determine if further assistance is needed.
  • Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

    Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may not hear alarms or other audible warnings. Instructors should inform such students of an emergency. There are three ways to get these students’ attention:

  • Write a note for the student alerting her or him to the emergency and instructing her or him where to go.
  • Turn the light switch off and on to gain attention.
  • Tap his shoulder.
  • In most instances, an interpreter/transcriber will be in the classroom to explain the emergency to the student. Provide any assistance a student might need during the evacuation process.

    Faculty may encounter other types of emergencies in the classroom involving students with disabilities. There may be various instances in which faculty are expected to provide leadership. Two examples are addressed below.

    Student Having a Seizure

    Most persons who have a seizure disorder are able to control their seizures through the use of medication; medical management of a seizure disorder is not however always totally effective. Students with an active seizure disorder will likely speak to you about their seizures and direct you how to respond if a seizure occurs.

    In the Event of a Grand Mal Seizure:

  • Prevent injury by clearing the area around the person of anything hard or sharp
  • Keep objects away from the individual’s mouth
  • Ease the student to the floor and cushion his head with an available sweater, sweatshirt, coat, etc.
  • Remove the student’s eyeglasses and loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult
  • Turn the individual on his side. This will help keep the airway clear.
  • Do not restrain an individual having a seizure
  • Stay with the student until the seizure ends naturally and he is fully awake
  • Do not offer the person water or food until he is fully alert
  • Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns
  • Alert Public Safety or EMT on campus
  • In the event of an “Absence Seizure” (also referred as Petit Mal) in which the individual appears as blankly staring, with loss of awareness and/or involuntary blinking, chewing, or other facial movements:

  • Stay calm and speak reassuringly.
  • Guide the student away from dangers
  • Block access to hazards, but do not restrain the student
  • Stay a distance away, if the student is agitated, but close enough to protect the student until full awareness has returned.
  • Elevator Breakdowns and Repair

  • Elevator breakdowns are a relatively common occurrence and can be extremely inconvenient or even life-threatening to a person who uses a wheelchair. When an elevator ceases to operate, contact the college’s Office of Public Safety. Be prepared to give Public Safety the details of the emergency situation, which is especially important in cases where time is of the essence.
  • If there is a breakdown of the main elevator, assist the student in finding and using an alternate elevator, if one is available.
  • If you become aware of long-term elevator repair issues that will negatively impact access for a student with disabilities in your class, contact the office of disability services about getting the class changed to another site.
  • For further information and assistance please contact the college office of disability services.
  • Our Sources and Additional Resources:

  • CDC First Aid for Seizures:
  • Disability Services (Ohio State University):