Fast Evacuation for Individuals of Limited Mobility

wheelchair picture

Does your evacuation plan include a fast, safe mode of transport for the wheelchair-bound, disabled, or other persons of limited mobility? Wheelchair ramps and elevators may get you through the day-to-day of accommodating all of your patients, students, employees, or clientele—but in an emergency, you can’t afford to leave anyone behind.

When planning for safe evacuation on non-ambulatory individuals, we may establish any number of plans that work on paper, but may not play out the way we imagine them. For example, relying on an evacuation chair may not work if a structural collapse creates rubble that blocks the pathway of the chair. Relying on first responders to remove a disabled individual is not a valid plan if an active shooter scenario prevents them from entering the building. A strong evacuation plan for disabled or non-ambulatory individuals should include multiple solutions to address a variety of contingencies. Rational thinking and shared responsibility are some of the earliest casualties of real emergencies, and the truth is that many evacuation “plans” for wheelchair-bound individuals simply fail.

For example, in 2014 Watchung Hills Regional High School* left a wheelchair-bound student on the second floor during a fire drill and quickly found itself subject to a lawsuit for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The New Jersey school’s original “plan” for evacuating their two disabled students was to only give them classes on the first floor. When reality played out differently, the school realized their plan was insufficient. They paid dearly for their mistake. Sadly, this is not the only time a disabled student was not evacuated properly, nor is it the first lawsuit a school has had to face.

Does Your Evacuation Plan Comply with the ADA?

Beyond schools and universities, practically every business or organization should be ready and prepared to assist a disabled or unconscious individual evacuate quickly in an emergency scenario. The reality is that lawsuits have been won over mere drills, so imagine what could happen in a legitimate crisis. Legal liability aside, you have a moral obligation to make sure all individuals—especially the most vulnerable—are part of your evacuation plan.

If you operate a hotel, resort, arena, office building or large business, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your people. Consider the implications of leaving a member of your team or clientele behind. Having the right tools and procedures established before a crisis occurs may help you save lives and avoid costly litigation.

The Slyde Solution

Rather than relying on the impromptu resourcefulness of colleagues or bystanders, there is a solution to this problem that can ensure a safe, easy stairway evacuation: the Slyde. This lightweight medical sled allows for fast escapes in any number of crisis scenarios or drills. The individual is secured by straps, so as few as two people can guide it down a stairway to safety. This means it can be used to transport more than just the wheelchair bound; it can also be used to move injured or unconscious individuals. The device is made of durable corrugated polypropylene, so it can accommodate up to 500 lbs., (or 800 lbs., for the Bariatric Slyde). Its four web handles allow operators to guide it easily down stairs and straps allow for it to be gently pulled forward over obstacles, if needed.

The Slyde can easily be mounted in a storage sleeve in convenient locations (such as near elevators and stairways), and accompanied by a rope belay system for safely lowering individuals down stairs. With a Slyde, you can be ready to evacuate your wheelchair-bound constituents with confidence.

The bottom line is that you can’t predict when a natural disaster, power outage, chemical spill, fire, violent attack or structural damage may affect your facility, but you can be ready to evacuate everyone safely when a crisis unfolds. The Slyde can help you rest easy knowing that you have a life-saving device at hand to ensure safe transport for any individuals with mobility issues.

The Slyde comes in two sizes and can be operated by two to seven people during an evacuation. It is thin and wall-mountable, so it will be there when you need it. To learn more about the Slyde, visit www.evacuationslyde.com or call us at 800-355-4628.