Loyola University Maryland

Disability Support Services

Emergency Evacuation for Persons with Disabilities

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This information provides a general guideline of evacuation procedures for fire and other building emergencies. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors must develop their own facilities evacuation plans and identify their primary and secondary evacuation routes from each building they use. For general information about access to Loyola please consult the campus map.

Emergency Evacuation Plans Should Include

  • Being familiar with evacuation options
  • Seeking evacuation assistants who are willing to assist in case of an emergency
  • Asking supervisors, instructors, environmental health and safety (EH&S), or disability support services (DSS) about evacuation plans for buildings.

Most Loyola buildings have accessible exits at the ground level floor which can be used during an emergency. In complexes like the Andrew White Student Center/DeChiaro College Center or the Sellinger School of Business and Management/Maryland Hall, people can move into the unaffected wings of the building rather than exiting. However, in most Loyola buildings people will need to use stairways to reach building exits. Elevators cannot be used because they have been shown to be unsafe to use in an emergency and in some buildings they are automatically recalled to the ground floor.

Evacuation Options

Persons without disabilities must evacuate to the nearest exit. Persons with disabilities have four basic evacuation options:

  • Horizontal evacuation: using building exits to the outside ground level or going into unaffected wings of multi-building complexes.
  • Stairway evacuation: using steps to reach ground level exits from the building.
  • Stay in Place: unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire resistant door. With this approach, the person may keep in contact with emergency services by dialing 911 and then Loyola’s public safety at 410-617-5010 and reporting his or her location directly. Emergency services will immediately relay this location to on-site emergency personnel, who will determine the necessity for evacuation. Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies. If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object.

    The Stay in Place approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings or buildings where an "area of refuge" is not nearby or available. It may also be more appropriate for an occupant who is alone when the alarm sounds. A "solid" or fire resistant door can be identified by a fire label on the jam and frame. Non-labeled 1 ¾ inch thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.
  • Area of refuge: with an evacuation assistant, going to an area of refuge away from obvious danger. The evacuation assistant will then go to the building evacuation assembly point and notify the on site emergency personnel of the location of the person with a disability. Emergency personnel will determine if further evacuation is necessary.  Usually, the safest areas of refuge are pressurized stair enclosures common to high-rise buildings, and open air exit balconies. Other possible areas of refuge include: fire rated corridors or vestibules adjacent to exit stairs.  Many campus buildings feature fire rated corridor construction that may offer safe refuge. Taking a position in a rated corridor next to the stair is a good alternative to a small stair landing crowded with the other building occupants using the stairway. For assistance in identifying areas of refuge, call Christi Caramia, Director of EH&S at (410) 617-5288.

For false or needless alarms or an isolated and contained fire, a person with a disability may not have to evacuate. The decision to evacuate will be made by the Baltimore City fire department. The Baltimore City fire department will tell the individual their decision or relay the information via the Loyola public safety / campus police.

Disability Guidelines

Prior planning and practicing of emergency evacuation routes are important in assuring a safe evacuation.

Mobility Impaired Wheelchair

Persons using wheelchairs should Stay in Place, or move to an area of refuge with their assistant when the alarm sounds. The evacuation assistant should then proceed to the evacuation assembly point outside the building and tell Baltimore City fire department or Loyola public safety/campus police the location of the person with a disability. If the person with a disability is alone, he/she should phone emergency services at 911 with their present location and the area of refuge they are headed.

If the stair landing is chosen as the area of refuge, 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. Only in situations of extreme danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair users. Moving a wheelchair down 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 person with a disability may choose to stay in the building, using the other options, until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.

Hearing Impaired

Some buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm strobe lights; however, many 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 explicit note 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 DSS (see below for contact information.)

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. 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.

This information is designed to complement the Loyola University Maryland Emergency Evacuation Manual, and to provide general information and promote planning. If you have any questions, contact Loyola's office of environmental health and safety at 410-617-5288 or ccaramia@loyola.edu or the disability support services office at 410-617-2062 or mwiedefeld@loyola.edu.