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  1. Evacuations Involving People With Disabilities - Issues Arising Dr Karen Boyce University of Ulster

  2. Accessible Environment “facilitates equal opportunity independently to participate in the full range of activities and responsibilities which define our society.. free of barriers which exclude, endanger or inconvenience those with acquired or inherited physical impairments” McGough, 1994 • Accessible means of egress?

  3. Content • Evacuations involving people with disabilities: • Ulster Museum 1988 • Marks and Spencer 1996 • WTC Evacuation 9/11 • Film Theatre Evacuation Study • Issues arising • Implications for design and management

  4. Ulster Museum 1988 • real emergency occurred during Armada exhibition • considerable reconfiguration of spaces • exhibition followed pre-defined route • took advice from fire brigade and opened additional staircase – safety aware

  5. Museum Evacuation Summary • approx 1200 people including 200 staff, 20 with responsibilities in emergency - groups of school children • 9 people disabilities, including 4 wheelchair users and 1 walking stick user accompanied by 3 care assistants • situated on upper (3rd) floor near end of exhibition just before entrance to stair • 15-20 minutes to evacuate the building (normally 3-4)

  6. Museum Evacuation Summary • 4 people disabilities, including 1 wheelchair user, 1 care assistant evacuated immediately by lift • final exit could not be negotiated by wheelchair user – only one leaf of door opened • 3 wheelchair users evacuated via the stairway • first assisted by staff, who then returned to the 3rd floor to assist second • the third?

  7. Issues Arising Museum • use of lifts as a means of egress for people with disabilities • sufficiency of staircase widths to accommodate evacuation of people with disabilities and contra-flows • refuges as a life safety option: • space requirements • communication • need for staff training in: • lifting and handling techniques • effective communication

  8. Evacuation Retail Store • unannounced, i.e., members of public and staff unaware • wheelchair user unable to negotiate door (only one leaf open); wheelchair users were directed to exits which had steps leading to ground level • lack of preparation, understanding regarding the needs of those with disabilities • one wheelchair user successfully evacuated up stairs by untrained persons (0.26 m/s)

  9. WTC 9/11 • UK WTC Study – Universities of Greenwich, Ulster and Liverpool • to investigate experiences of those evacuating towers 1 and 2 • Interviewed 6 who had self declared mobility impairment out of 273 (2.2%)

  10. WTC 9/11 • 5fairly minor and had no difficulties evacuating • Participant E located on 20th floor had: • knee surgery and severe arthritis • could only walk short distances using sticks or canes and used a scooter for longer distances • wheeled herself in her secretary’s chair to get around the office • had disaster training and was fire safety aware

  11. Participant ‘E’ • Despite this no emergency plan! • “there’s really a big guy like a linebacker and I said I just may need help with you will you go out with me, I may need crowd control if people start to panic, if people panic I may need you to restrain a crowd if they start to stampede”. • organised assistance from three colleagues

  12. Participant ‘E’ • “we took up the whole stairway” and went down at a staccato pace “you know hop-hop-hop-hop” • protectors formed a human cage around her - one male at the front and rear and the female at the side “she could cuddle up to me and let people by or if she needed to she could move out and control people coming alongside of us” • stopped on every other landing because two of her protectors had asthma - “both had asthma - we had to stop so we would go over to a corner on the landing – and huddle”.

  13. Issues Arising Participant E • no emergency plan, despite severe disability • visible disability was not the most serious impediment to descent on the stairs • sufficiency of the stair width for mixed ability population evacuation

  14. Theatre Evacuation • experimental study to consider: • interactions in mixed ability population • influence of staff in well-defined setting • 156 participants, including 6 wheelchair users, 1 crutch user and 1 walking stick user • time required by people with disabilities ranged from 4 secs to 3 min 13 secs

  15. Issues Arising Theatre • in certain situations, movement is constrained by design - staff are almost redundant • space requirements for manoeuvring wheelchairs (electric) • need for staff training in: • communication • techniques for assisting persons with disabilities

  16. Some Final Thoughts - Refuges • Will person with a disability use a refuge? Will they become fearful – having to wait while others evacuate past them • Do they know where refuges are? • if employee then can be addressed through training and development of PEEP • if public building more difficult – signage? • Guidance suggests two-way communication system required between refuge and management control point: • is guidance being adopted? • what are the implications of this? • Onus on sufficient number of available and trained staff who will provide direction and reassurance – is this being provided consistently?

  17. Some Final Thoughts - Refuges Sizing: • one per protected stair – is this sufficient? (in theory 2 on storey which could hold 600 people) • guidance only really considers wheelchair users – what about others who don’t use a wheelchair but have difficulty using stairs? What about their companions? • if not sized appropriately leaves people in vulnerable positions • refuge space should meet anticipated needs

  18. Difficulty Using Stairs (Adult mobile population, NI, Boyce 2996) Action Degree of Difficulty (%) Some Great Impossible Total Go up and down stairs 2.59 1.69 0.43 4.71

  19. Some Final Thoughts Stairs • Sizing of stairs to accommodate evacuation of people mixed abilities • Evacuation of those using refuge - whose responsibility? • management or fire brigade • Training: • staff need to be trained in lifting techniques and use of equipment • raises issues regarding handling difficulties and injury

  20. The Challenge Complex issue requiring consideration of: • Design (based on numbers and characteristics of potential occupants and management culture) • Provision of appropriate equipment and facilities • Management of the building (strategies, procedures in place) • Training of staff and planning

  21. The End Thank you for your attention