Emergency relief for the mobility impaired
There is a familiar sign next to all lifts which asks us to “rather use the stairs in the case of an emergency”, but few stop to think of the implications for people who cannot use the stairs due to injuries or other mobility impairments. These peoples’ lives would indeed be in danger if an emergency evacuation from the upper levels had to take place with no adequate plans in place to ensure their safety.
Roger Buckley, managing director of Edwards & Buckley Systems, the manufacturer of the Evac+Chair in South Africa, stresses the importance of having a comprehensive emergency evacuation plan, which includes safe evacuation for people with injuries or physical disabilities.
“It may not be safe for a person with mobility impairments to access the upper levels of a building using the lift if no provision has been made for emergency egress. Having the right equipment in place, as well as ensuring correct usage through the correct training and practise, is key to providing a truly safe environment for all building occupants,” he notes.
Employers are required to maintain proper evacuation plans and equipment, to train staff accordingly and to practise the procedures during regular fire drills. Certain specialised equipment, such as the Evac+Chair stairway evacuation chairs, should be considered as essential tools necessary to protect and help staff, customers and other visitors to exit the upper levels of buildings.