Evacuation Provisions for Persons Requiring Assistance
A comprehensive health and safety policy and emergency plan needs to incorporate the varying needs and physical capabilities of everyone who may be present in the building. It can be easy for those who are performing a fire risk assessment or devising the emergency evacuation procedures for an organisation to forget that there are likely to be people in the building(s) - particularly if it is a large company with many employees and numerous visitors coming and going for meetings, appointments etc -who may have additional requirements for safely and speedily evacuating the premises. It is essential that these needs are addressed and suitable planning done before an incident arises to enable this assistance to be provided so that people are not left trapped in the building.
People who may require assistance in the event of an emergency include the elderly, those in wheelchairs, deaf/hard of hearing, blind, infirm, mentally impaired and many others. Provisions will need to be made such as ensuring that those in wheelchairs can safely exit the building i.e. there are no steps on the escape route, that those who are deaf or hard of hearing are either provided with a vibrating alert device or that these people, along with the blind and infirm, have someone to assist them with evacuating the building. A comprehensive sweep in which all areas of the building are checked by a nominated person(s) will help to ensure that those requiring assistance are safely out of the building and have not been left behind inside.