Emergency Evacuation Procedures
General Evacuation Procedures
An evacuation is defined as the emptying of an occupied area and the transference of its occupants to a safe location. A critical element of any evacuation is transportation. In many campuses and communities, auto-dependent commuters congest roadways to the point of “gridlock.” The dense urban population, high number of resident students and use of transportation alternatives at Georgia State University must be taken into account when planning the steps necessary to evacuate all campus occupants, whether they arrived by public transit, single-occupant auto, carpool, or bicycle.
In a major emergency, the decision to implement city evacuation procedures generally rests with the city of Atlanta. In situations requiring immediate operations, public safety responders (Police, Fire, and Environmental Health & Safety) can also order an evacuation. When evaluating a possible evacuation, consideration will be given to the specific threat (bomb, fire, storm, explosion, hazardous materials incident, etc.), its context (time of day, likelihood, etc.) and the recommendation of first responders.
Evacuating Your Building or Work Area
- Stay calm; do not rush and do not panic.
- Safely stop your work.
- Gather your personal belongings if it is safe to do so. (Reminder: take prescription medications out with you if at all possible; it may be hours before you are allowed back in the building.)
- If safe, close your office door and window, but do not lock them.
- Use the nearest safe stairs and proceed to the nearest exit. Do not use the elevator.
- Follow any instructions from emergency responders.
- Do not re-enter the building or work area until you have been instructed to do so by the emergency responders.
- Move to the established Assembly Area and ensure accountability of building personnel is conducted in a timely manner.
- Report any known or suspected missing persons.
A building occupant is required by law to evacuate the building when the fire alarm sounds.
Evacuation Policy for People with Disabilities
The following guidelines have been adopted by Georgia State University to help evacuate people with physical disabilities. Evacuating a disabled or injured person is best performed by a professional. If a professional is not available, or in the event of an immediate danger, you may want to volunteer to help evacuate a disabled or injured person to a safe area. Consider your
options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt. Do not make an emergency situation worse.
Evacuation is difficult and uncomfortable for both the rescuers and the people being assisted. Some people have conditions that can be aggravated or triggered if they are moved incorrectly. Remember that environmental conditions (smoke, debris, loss of electricity) will complicate evacuation efforts.
The following guidelines are general and may not apply in every circumstance.
- Occupants should be invited to volunteer ahead of time to assist disabled people in an emergency. If a volunteer is not available, designate someone to assist who is willing to accept the responsibility.
- Volunteers should obtain evacuation training for certain types of lifting techniques.
- Two or more trained volunteers, if available, should conduct the evacuation.
- DO NOT evacuate disabled people in their wheelchairs. This is standard practice to ensure the safety of disabled people and volunteers. Wheelchairs will be evacuated later if possible.
- Always ASK someone with a disability how you can help BEFORE attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance. Ask how they can best be assisted or moved, and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with them.
- Before attempting an evacuation, volunteers and the people being assisted should discuss how any lifting will be done and the evacuation path that will be followed.
- Proper lifting techniques (e.g. bending the knees, keeping the back straight, holding the person close before lifting, and using leg muscles to lift) should be used to avoid injury to rescuers’ backs. Ask permission of the evacuee if an evacuation chair or similar device is being considered as an aid in an evacuation. When using such devices, make sure the person is secured properly. Be careful on stairs and rest at landings if necessary.
- Certain lifts may need to be modified depending on the person’s disabilities.
- DO NOT use elevators, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel. Elevators could fail during a fire.
- If the situation is life threatening, call University Police at 404-413-3333.
- Check on people with special needs during an evacuation. A “buddy system”, where people with disabilities arrange for volunteers (co-workers/ neighbors) to alert them and assist them in an emergency, is a good method.
- Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance.
- If an outage occurs during the day and people with disabilities choose to wait in the building for electricity to be restored, they can move near a window where there is natural light and access to a working telephone. During regular building hours, Facility Zone Chiefs should be notified so they can advise emergency personnel.
- If people would like to leave and an evacuation has been ordered, or if the outage occurs at night, call University Police at 404-413-3333 or (3)3333 from a campus telephone to request evacuation assistance.
Assisting the Blind or Visually Impaired
- Give verbal instructions to advise about the safest route or direction using compass directions, estimated distances, and directional terms.
- DO NOT grasp a visually impaired person’s arm. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit, especially if there is debris or a crowd.
- Give other verbal instructions or information as needed (i.e. elevators cannot be used).
Assisting the Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch and eye contact. Clearly state the problem. Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.
- Offer visual instructions to advise of safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.
Assisting Persons with Mobility Impairments
- It may be necessary to help clear the exit route of debris (if possible) so that the person with a disability can move out or to a safer area.
- If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, they should move to a safer area, e.g.,- most enclosed stairwells – an office with the door shut which is a good distance from the hazard.
- If you do not know the safer areas in your building, call University Police at 404-413-3333.
- Notify emergency responders immediately about any people remaining in the building and their locations.
- Police or fire personnel will decide whether people are safe to remain in place or will evacuate them as necessary. The Fire Department may determine that it is safe to override the rule against using elevators.
- If people are in immediate danger and cannot be moved to a safer area to wait for assistance, it may be necessary to evacuate them using an evacuation chair or a carry technique.