Emergency Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities

Ken Walker
Emergency Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities

Some years ago, persons living with disabilities and special needs were sometimes among the casualties when emergencies happen in the workplace. Resulting from some employers failing to  plan for emergency preparedness for persons with disabilities. Even so, emergency fire wardens can work to establish and maintain a safe work environment for all.  In the 21st century, this has changed with policies being passed and implemented to oversee the safety of people and employees at the workplace in case of an emergency. Organisations have therefore come up with the Emergency Plan meant to act as the guide in the emergency response and recovery.

 Emergency planning and providing assistance for people living with disabilities.

 To make sure that a minority population in every organisation is protected in case of an emergency, the emergency plan covers the various ways through which this group should be taken care of.

Fire wardens are among the people who help in coming up with the guidelines and procedures for emergency preparedness for this group. This is because a fire warden has the training required in preparing for fire and emergencies.


The role of an Emergency Fire Warden

 The fire wardens are then supposed to carry out an identification exercise to create a list of the persons living with disability or other factor that may delay evacuation if assistance isn’t provided. This is to identify extra care when evacuating if there is an emergency. Some of the persons living with disability include:

  • Vision impaired.
  • Hearing impaired
  • People using wheelchairs.

Generally, a given disabilities is known to the community of employees at a specific location. And the fire warden can easily identify needs in a sensitive way. However, there is also that group of other people who may need special assistance, but may not bring their needs forward before the emergency. They include people with:

  • Arthritis.
  • Asthma.
  • Chronic back pain.
  • Cardiac condition.
  • Psychological challenges etc.

The fire warden then prepares the evacuation procedure to cover or cater to the needs of each group of persons. The evacuation plan entails details such as:

  1. a)     The means of evacuation and special routes.
  2. b)     Persons to assist persons living with disabilities.
  3. c)     The fire assembly point for these persons evacuating.

Emergency wardens are helping keep all persons safe

This means that the fire warden has to choose staff members to assist. The person living with a disability can also choose from among their friends and forward the names to the fire warden. This help to ensures sensitivity and potentially better care.The fire warden then prepares the chosen staff members through extensive training. Concentrating on the emergency response and evacuation of these individuals or groups. Moreover, the fire warden involves the persons living with disability and the chosen staff members in regular drills to make sure everyone is ready to face a real emergency.

Preparing for a fire emergency.

The emergency plan involves the necessary preparations that the fire warden should carry out. Wardens can do this in collaboration with the administrators of the organisation. The emergency plan should entail;

[1] The selection of the safest place to be used by the people requiring assistance from their trained friends. [2] A secluded fire assembly point that is the ultimate safe spot in the premises.
[3] The evacuation routes for people living with disabilities. [4] Structural adjustments to suit evacuation of the people such as the installation of wheelchair ramps.
[5] First aid training and equipping according to the various needs such as asthmatic and cardiac attacks. [6] Emergency services contacts.
[7]The fire warden should make sure that all the above are taken care of as part of preparing for an emergency.

Special considerations by the fire warden.

The fire warden must bear in mind that there are always visitors. They might be on the premises by the time of the emergency. This means that in coming up with the response and recovery plan, the fire warden must leave the allowance for visitors with special needs.

Moreover, the fire warden should strictly allow volunteers to volunteer for selection rather than choosing them and allocating them the persons. That is why most organisations will recommend friends to the person living with a disability rather than a total stranger.

Remember, it is the role of the fire warden always to monitor the fire emergency control measures. Make sure they are up to date and sufficient  and if there is an emergency. They can help combat the emergency.

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