photo of three-man hill in the fall

Evacuation of persons with disabilities

Fredonia has a comprehensive procedure for alerting, evacuating and/or sheltering persons with disabilities during a real or simulated emergency.

At the beginning of each academic semester, the University shall ask all students, faculty and staff if they require assistance during an emergency. The Department of Environmental Health & Safety & Sustainability will send this notification via email.

The email will contain a voluntary self-identification questionnaire, which will be forwarded to the DSS (for campus students) or Human Resources (for campus employees). The purpose of this questionnaire is to gather information to assist in educating, alerting, evacuating and sheltering individuals who may need assistance during an emergency. 

All self-identified students and employees are required to register with the NY-Alert and RAVE Guardian systems. If a disabled student or employee does not have access to a smart phone, the University will loan a smart phone to the disabled person. The DSS or HR department will coordinate this request with the VP of Finance & Administration.

If there is an occasion in which a person with a disability is unable to use an elevator to move about a particular building. For example, the elevator is inoperable and the student/employee is on an upper floor and cannot use the stairs.  The following procedure should be used:

  • Volunteer assistance may be used to assist the person to the ground floor only if the person consents and that the moving technique does not endanger the disabled person. Building Safety Coordinators, University Police and other trained volunteers can be used. 
  • A campus owned evacuation devices could also be used by trained volunteers. This includes the use of a Stair Chair to transport the person to the ground floor.
  • If no campus owned evacuation devices and/or volunteer assistance is available, or if the person cannot be moved in a safe manner, then the Fredonia Fire Department will be requested to assist in the movement of the disabled person. 

Emergency evacuation guidelines

Individuals on the First Floor, who are able to evacuate, should do so using the closest usable exit.

Individuals on Upper and Below Grade Levels, should make their way, accompanied or on their own, to a designated area of rescue assistance or refuge.  Individuals who are unable to use stairs should wait for emergency rescue personnel for assistance in evacuation.

DO NOT USE ELEVATORS, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel.

Emergency responders should be notified immediately regarding individuals in need of rescue assistance and their locations.

Individuals should make immediate contact with University Police via “Emergency Phones at Area of Refuge” or by using the RAVE app or calling 716-673-3333 or 911. 

Identify and remember important locations in each building (exits, stairways, phones, elevators (procedures for use), and areas of rescue assistance)

Identify two (2) routes out of each building, excluding the elevator.

Formulate personal evacuation plans for each building they will occupy. 

Students are encouraged to identify with the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS), University Police, Residence Life, Instructors, etc. regarding assistance needed in an emergency.

Areas of Rescue Assistance (Areas of Refuge) are locations with direct access to an exit where individuals who are unable to use the stairs may remain temporarily (safely) during an emergency until rescue personnel can assist them out of the building.

The following areas have been identified as official areas of rescue assistance (areas of refuge) (1996 Report, Brian Black, Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA)) equipped with signage and two-way communication:

Campus building  Area(s) of refuge  Comments 
Alumni Center Stairwell, End Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone
Chautauqua Nearest Elevator Unofficial – No signs / phone
Disney 2nd & 3rd Floor – Nearest Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone 1st Floor use main entrance
Dods Nearest Stairwell if unable to exit. Unofficial – No signs / phone
Eisenhower 2nd & 3rd Floor – Nearest Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone 1st Floor use main entrance
Fenton Middle Hallway on 2nd floor, Stairwell near English Department Unofficial – No signs / phone
Gregory – administrative area 2nd Floor Staging Area Unofficial – No signs / phone
Gregory - housing Stairwell Landing Unofficial – No signs / phone
Grissom 2nd & 3rd Floor – Nearest Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone 1st Floor use main entrance
Hemingway Hemingway Elevator Unofficial – No signs / phone
Hendrix Nearest Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone
Houghton Basement Stairwell, 2nd Floor Stairwell Emergency Phones Available
Igoe Nearest Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone
Jewett Jewett Elevator Unofficial – No signs / phone
Kasling 2nd & 3rd Floor – Nearest Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone 1st Floor use main entrance
Mason North and South Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone
Maytum Nearest Stairwell if unable to exit Unofficial – No signs / phone
McEwen 1st Floor - Elevator Lobby, 2nd Floor – West Stairwell, 3rd Floor – East Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone
McGinnies Center Stairwell  or End Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone
Natatorium Nearest Stairwell if unable to exit Unofficial – No signs / phone
Nixon Nearest Elevator Unofficial – No signs / phone
Reed Library Music Library – Emergency Exit to Outside, 2nd-4th Floors (Carnahan)  – Elevator Lobby Unofficial – No signs / phone
Schulz Nearest Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone
Science Center East Stairwell, West Stairwell Signs & Phones Available
Steele Nearest Stairwell if unable to exit. Red Emergency Phone 2nd floor Steele available
Thompson Hall Stairwell at South, East end of building Unofficial – No signs / phone
University Commons – Administrative and Marche 2nd Floor Landing near elevator Unofficial – No signs / phone
University Commons – Housing Elevator Lobby at the center of 2nd & 3rd floors Emergency Phone Available
Williams Center Basement & 2nd Floor – Stairwell Unofficial – No signs / phone


The following guidelines are intended to help evacuate people with disabilities.  Evacuating a disabled or injured person yourself is the last resort. Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt.  Do not make an emergency situation worse.

Evacuation can be 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:

  • Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance. 
  • 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.   Wheelchairs will be evacuated later if possible. This is standard practice to ensure the safety of disabled people and volunteers.
  • 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 where they are going. 
  • 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 716-673-3333. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.  
  • If people would like to leave and an evacuation has been ordered, or if the outage occurs at night, call University Police at 716-673-3333 to request evacuation assistance from emergency personnel. 
  • Some campus telephones may not operate in a power outage, but cellular telephones are likely to be operating. 
  • Give verbal instructions to advise about the safest route or direction using compass directions (i.e. you are facing North – walk 100 yards and turn East), estimated distances (i.e. walk about 100 feet to the exit door), and directional terms (i.e. Walk 100 feet and turn left at the hallway intersection)
  • 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
  • The guide should stand adjacent to the person being guided and offer his/her near arm.  The person being guided should grasp the guide’s arm just above the elbow with his/her near arm
  • The guide should keep that arm straight down and keep close (not out) to the body
  • Unless dangerous, a steady pace tends to be easier for the person being guided
  • The guide should provide verbal instructions and information regarding obstacles, changes in level (steps, inclines, declines), and surroundings
  • Give other verbal instructions or information (i.e. elevators cannot be used)
  • 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
  • Speak naturally and clearly without shouting or exaggerating lip movement. Slow down slightly and speak in short sentences
  • Offer visual instructions to advise of safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps
  • 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, etc.)
  • If you do not know the safer areas in your building, call University Police at 716-673-3333
  • Notify emergency responders immediately about any people remaining in the building and their locations. 
  • Assemble in the Area of Refuge if their current location is not safe or if directed to by emergency personnel. 
  • Police or fire personnel will decide whether people are safe where they are and 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 (this will be the responsibility of the fire department or rescue personnel).

Service Animal:  Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability.

• Discuss individual’s specific preferences regarding the evacuation and handling of service animal.

• Discuss how individual can be assisted if the service animal becomes hesitant or disoriented during the emergency situation.

• First responders should be notified of the presence of a service animal and be provided with specific information.

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