Emergency Evacuation Procedure For Faculty, Staff and Students with Disabilities

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Swarthmore College is committed to providing equal access to safe egress for any visitor or member of the community including additional assistance if required, to effectively alert, evacuate, and/or shelter them during an emergency.

To be successful in providing this assistance, the Emergency Evacuation Procedures (EEP) require the cooperation of every member of the College community. Emergency protocols are explained on the Public Safety Web site and in orientation packages for employees and students.

Some members of the community are specially trained to identify and assist persons who may need aid in an emergency.

This emergency evacuation plan has been reviewed by and is on file with the Swarthmore College Department of Public Safety and the Borough of Swarthmore Police Department.

The Roles of Swarthmore College's Department Of Public Safety and The Borough Of Swarthmore's Police and Fire Departments

Swarthmore College's Department of Public Safety is the first responder for all emergency calls originating on campus. When an emergency such as smoke, fire, toxic spill, or other event requiring evacuation is confirmed, Swarthmore Public Safety personnel contact the Swarthmore Police and/or Fire Department to manage the evacuation process.

The Swarthmore College Department of Public Safety and the Borough of Swarthmore Fire Department are the first-responders to all campus emergencies, including those requiring evacuation. College Public Safety personnel are trained to assess the scene; but are not trained or expected to enter a fire scene or perform evacuations in the case of fire.

  • The Fire Department will enter a building during an emergency to facilitate the safe evacuation of all occupants. This includes conducting a floor-by-floor search to locate those individuals who are unable to exit the building safely.
  • The Department of Public Safety will serve as the primary point of contact for responding emergency personnel, and will relay any information received via telephone, radio, GPS devices or any other method regarding the location of those who might need assistance.

Emergency Communication And Alerting Procedures

The College requires all College faculty, students, and employees to supply emergency contact information using mySwarthmore so that they may be contacted via ConnectEd, the College's electronic emergency-notification system. This system enables College officials to reach members of the College community by rapidly transmitting short notifications by email, voice mail and text to up to five contacts per individual, including e-mail, alternate e-mail, cell phone, and office/dorm phone. The ConnectEd system is maintained offsite, so that power failures and other disruptions will not affect its function on-campus.

It is also recommended that any person with a disability who would need assistance during an emergency evacuation and who is in a building after regular work hours, or at times when others are not usually present, notify Public Safety of his/her location including the building, floor, room, and time of arrival and departure, or take advantage of the optional Personal GPS Locator available from the Department of Public Safety.

All dorms and many other facilities are equipped with College emergency phones that connect directly to Swarthmore College's Department of Public Safety. Additional College emergency phones are located throughout the campus along pathways and in parking lots. Public Safety can also be reached from any campus phone by dialing x8333; and from any phone by dialing 610-328-8333. Dialing 911 from any phone will direct any emergency call to the Borough Swarthmore's Police Department.

All campus facilities have centrally monitored audible and visual alarms that are inspected annually to ensure continuing safe operation. These are installed per NFPA and ADAAG standards.

Campus-wide plans for Emergency Evacuation

All members of the Swarthmore community, as well as its visitors, are expected to cooperate in evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency. Towards that end the College has undertaken the following preparatory protocols.

  1. Exit and Safety Identification. The College has identified all Fire Exits, and Safe Wait Areas throughout the campus.
  2. Fire Exits have lighted, overhead EXIT signs as well as Tactile/Braille EXIT signs mounted on the latch-pull side of the door.
  3. Safe Wait Areas are rooms with sprinklers that have windows facing an area where people might see someone signaling for assistance. They are identified with signs
  4. Evacuation Maps. Each classroom, lab, dorm room and public venue will have a building map that identifies evacuation routes and Safe Wait Areas.
  5. Class Announcements. During the first class of each semester, faculty will announce the locations of fire exits and Safe Wait Areas serving that classroom and/or lab. They will also review the requirement to leave the facility and follow instructions of safety personnel whenever an alarm sounds. They will also remind students to assist people with disabilities, and to let Public Safety personnel know of the location of anyone who cannot leave the building independently.
  6. Student and Employee Orientation. A part of every faculty and staff orientation package includes an introduction to the College's Emergency Evacuation Procedures (EEP), and an opportunity to initiate an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form. Likewise, new students are introduced to the College's Emergency Evacuation Procedures, and have an opportunity to initiate an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form. If students live in college dormitories, the dormitory's evacuation plan is discussed as part of student orientation
  7. Public Venues. At all performances, the 'housekeeping announcement' preceding each event includes identification of the exits and Safe Wait Areas available in case of emergency. The announcement includes a reminder to assist people with disabilities, and to let Public Safety personnel know of the location of anyone who cannot leave the venue independently.
  8. Equipment. Swarthmore College has three Garaventa Evac Chairs and has trained its Public Safety Officers in their use. In addition, the College has purchased four Personal GPS Locators, which may be used by any college community member, on request. (See Personal Emergency Plan section.) These devices are not required; but are available, on request, for individuals who wish this type of protection.
  9. Alarm Testing. The visual and audible components of all facilities' alarm systems are tested annually; and maintenance is provided, as needed.
  10. Maintenance. The Department of Public Safety, in cooperation with Facilities Management conducts regular condition reviews of access and egress elements, including any obstructions in hallways or stair towers, and reports problems to the relevant department or facility manager for removal, relocation, or repair. In addition, the local Fire Department conducts regular checks of the College's fire exits, including fire doors, corridors, and exit doors. Swarthmore College responds to all recommendations to keep these exit elements clear of obstruction and in good working order.
  11. Floor Monitors. Dormitories and certain other facilities have emergency monitors who check the floor on their way out of the facility in an emergency. These include Resident Assistants and various administrators in academic, student life, athletic, and administration facilities. Their tasks include:
    • Reminding all people to leave the facility.
    • Closing doors when rooms are cleared.
    • Identifying the location(s) of people who need assistance evacuating.
    • Reporting the location(s) of people who need assistance evacuating.
  12. Rescue Assistants. Some people with disabilities may chose to identify personal rescue assistants who will volunteer to do some or all of the following for them:
    • Know his/her likely schedule
    • Keep back-up medication, equipment, or mobility devices
    • Stay with them while awaiting rescue assistance as long as they are not in danger themselves
    • Report the location of the person awaiting rescue assistance
  13. Orientation. New students receive fire safety and evacuation information during orientation. All students living in College dormitory housing also participate in fire drills each semester. Faculty and staff receive fire safety and evacuation information during orientation.
  14. The Campus Interactive Map. The campus interactive map displays all Safe Wait Areas and fire stair towers in campus buildings where an individual can wait for assistance if unable to evacuate independently. This map allows people with disabilities as well as their volunteer rescue assistants and resident advisors to study locations in advance.
  15. Personal GPS Locators. The Department of Public Safety has purchased four Personal GPS Locators that any member of the campus community may elect to carry for use in an emergency. These identify the location of an individual only when the emergency button is pressed. This is an optional device, made available only on request of an individual with exceptional security and/or evacuation concerns. (See Emergency Referral Form.)
  16. Evacuation Drills. Students living in College dormitory housing participate in fire drills each semester. The College is instituting a phased-in plan of drills for all buildings starting in the spring semester of 2009.
  17. Web-Based Information. This plan and all necessary forms are available at http://www.swarthmore.edu/accessibility.xml
  18. Everyone Can Help. All members of the community are asked to be aware that some individuals, including persons with disabilities, may need assistance in the event of an emergency. In addition to those with mobility impairments, people with hearing and visual impairments may need to be alerted and given further instruction in emergency situations. People with visual impairments and campus visitors will likely need additional assistance as buildings and evacuation routes will be unfamiliar.
    It is strongly recommended that persons with disabilities acquire additional alerting devices to draw attention to themselves during an emergency. Cell phones and loud whistles, as well as optional Personal GPS Locators, supplied by Public Safety, are effective tools for drawing attention or for contacting emergency personnel.

Evacuation Procedures

College procedures require all persons, including those with disabilities, to evacuate a facility anytime the fire alarm system is activated. Depending upon the facility and type of disability, people may have the following evacuation options:

  1. Exit. Leaving the building through any exit door. Accessible means of egress are identified with the International Symbol of Access.
  2. Horizontal. Horizontal evacuation is going from one building into a connected, adjacent building on the same level. Horizontal evacuation routes that are wheelchair accessible are identified with the International Symbol of Access.
  3. Vertical. Many evacuation routes require the use of fire stairs. The Department of Public Safety has a list of the facilities whose fire stairs have landings large enough for the use of the College's evacuation chairs. Garaventa Evac Chairs are located in the Performing Arts Center and the Lang Concert Hall, and personnel in those facilities have been trained in their use. In addition, the Department of Public Safety has one Evac Chair that is available for use anywhere on campus. It is kept at Benjamin West and all Public Safety officers are trained in its use. Finally, the Swarthmore Fire Department has the same type of Evac Chair, and always travels with one or more chairs to any fire scene.
  4. Safe Wait Areas. Where evacuating independently is not possible and there is no Area of Rescue Assistance readily available, people with disabilities can await assistance in pre-identified Safe Wait Areas. These areas are identified via signage and on the interactive campus map, and first responders know to look in these areas for anyone awaiting assistance. Volunteer rescue assistants will also be familiar with these areas, and will alert Public Safety of the likelihood of an individual waiting there.
  5. Shelter in Place. Where no other option is available, a person with a disability can stay in place (e.g., office, classroom) to await evacuation. It is the responsibility of every member of the College community to immediately communicate to the Department of Public Safety and/or emergency personnel the location of individuals unable to evacuate.
  6. When Waiting for Assistance. If forced to stay in place during an emergency, the person with a disability should attempt to contact Public Safety to notify them of his/her location and need for assistance. Call (610) 328-8333 from any phone, or dial x 8333 from a Campus/ Emergency Phone. If you have chosen to use a Personal GPS Locator, use the Panic Button to alert Public Safety of your location, in addition to asking others who are evacuating to alert Public Safety of your location and need for assistance. Public Safety will then dispatch an officer or other First Responder to the location to assist with the evacuation.
  7. Elevators. Elevators are never to be used in the event of a fire without explicit authorization by fire or police personnel. Further, stairway evacuations of individuals who use wheelchairs may be hazardous to disabled individuals, rescuers, and others attempting to evacuate and should not be attempted by untrained personnel unless there's no other alternative. Individuals with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently or with assistance may be able to negotiate stairs.

Personal Emergency Plans (PEPs) for Persons with Disabilities

Although the process of developing a Personal Emergency Plan is optional for students and staff, the College encourages proactive planning on the part of the entire college community for emergency conditions. Individuals with disabilities may require additional assistance with alerting, evacuating, and sheltering in the event of an emergency.

The College offers the opportunity, through a confidential process, to develop a PEP that could include such strategies as storing extra equipment or medications, providing Public Safety with your class and personal schedule, specific evacuation procedures, sheltering procedures, volunteer rescue assistants, using an optional Personal GPS Locator, and designating means of communication in the event of an emergency.

Although not required, faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to identify their concerns about evacuation in case of an emergency, and to develop a PEP that is effective for them.
Self-Identification with the College. As part of the new-hire orientation process, all new faculty and staff are asked if they might need assistance in an emergency evacuation. If they answer yes, they are given an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form. Once a year, an inquiry is made of all faculty and staff regarding the need for emergency evacuation assistance. Supervisors may also ask an employee who has self-identified as disabled or has a known or obvious disability if he or she will require assistance in the event of an emergency.

Students are canvassed at the beginning of each academic year to determine if they will require assistance in an emergency. In addition, students with disabilities work closely with the College's Office of Student Disability Services on a wide range of accommodations, including the opportunity to develop a PEP. Advisors may ask students who have self-identified or who have obvious disabilities if they would like to discuss developing a PEP.

Emergency Evacuation Referral Form. Individuals who self-identify as needing assistance during an emergency may complete the confidential Emergency Evacuation Referral Form that provides the College with information needed to develop a PEP. The Referral Form is available on the following websites:

The Department of Public Safety and the Office of Residential Life can also help individuals locate the referral form and address questions or provide the form in alternate formats.

All employees, including faculty, other academic personnel and staff must return the Emergency Evacuation Referral Form to: Employee Relations Manager
Human Resources Office
Pearson Hall
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
610-328-8397

All students must return the Emergency Evacuation Referral Form to:
Leslie Hempling
Office of Student Disability Services
Parrish 113
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
610-690-5014
lhempli1@swarthmore.edu

Once an employee or student submits an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form, the Employee Relations Manager or Coordinator of Student Disability Services notifies the Department of Public Safety. For students, the Associate Dean of Students is also notified. If the student resides in College housing, the Coordinator of Student Disability Services also informs the Housing Coordinator. Together they develop a PEP that is effective and practical. This plan is kept on file in Public Safety, and only those with a 'need-to-know' have access to it.

Any individual requiring assistance is encouraged to update his/her self-identification information semi-annually, no later than September 30 and January 30 of each calendar year, or whenever circumstances warrant an update (e.g., changes in his/her condition that would require a change in assistance).

In addition to submitting an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form, any employee or student needing assistance is encouraged to share information with several reliable people in their classes, residence hall or work area about his/her need for assistance during an emergency. These are their 'volunteer rescue assistants' who might assist in an actual evacuation. Such notification is intended to supplement proper identification using the Emergency Evacuation Referral Form. Suggested information to share:

  • Your schedule
  • The types of assistance you might need in an emergency
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Where you keep your emergency supplies
  • How to operate your assistive devices, if applicable
  • The size and weight of your assistive devices, in addition to whether or not they are collapsible,
    in case they have to be transported
  • Location of Areas of Rescue Assistance and Safe Wait Areas

It is useful to name your volunteer rescue assistants in your Personal Emergency Plan so that Public Safety and others can more easily contact them in an emergency.

Developing Personal Emergency Plans

Once an individual submits an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form, the Department of Public Safety will work with the individual, and either his/her supervisor (for employees), or the Housing Coordinator and the relevant Resident Assistant (for students), to develop a PEP that includes specific means of communication, evacuation procedures and sheltering procedures in the event of an emergency. This plan will include:

  • Identifying the safest area(s) located on each floor within the building(s) where a person with disabilities can await assistance from emergency response personnel.
  • Designating a means to inform emergency response personnel (e.g., police, fire) of the locations of any person(s) requiring assistance.
  • Identification of volunteer Rescue Assistants.
  • Location of back-up medical or assistive equipment and medications.
  • Use of an optional personal GPS locator. In an emergency, Public Safety can pinpoint the person's location so that first-responders can more easily find and evacuate them. In the event of an emergency, the individual may press the "panic button" on the device for immediate notification at the Communications Center at Public Safety
  • Training in transfer techniques, if needed, for use of the Evac Chair.
  • Practice/drill opportunities.

A copy of all PEPs will be located in the Office of Public Safety and are only available on a 'need-to-know' basis in an emergency.

Training

The Department of Public Safety trains resident assistants, supervisors, and facility managers in identifying and assisting persons who may need assistance in an emergency as well as:

  • The location of designated Areas of Rescue Assistance and Safe Wait Areas
  • The contents of this policy and procedure
  • Fire safety procedures
  • The process to assess surroundings in an emergency
  • Understanding what equipment needs to be evacuated with the person with a disability or where back-up supplies (e.g., wheelchairs, oxygen) can be obtained.

Additional training information, especially about how to assist persons with disabilities in an emergency is available at: Physical Access and Learning Support.

Practice instills confidence in one's ability to cope in an emergency while ensuring that appropriate lifesaving actions will be taken during a real emergency. Practice consists of walk-through procedures, tabletop exercises, announced drills, or unannounced drills.

Contact Information and Emergency Numbers

Police, Fire, and Ambulance Assistance
College Emergency Phones connect directly to Public Safety
From any College phone for Public Safety x8333
From any Non-College phone for Public Safety 610-328-8333
From any phone for Borough Emergency Dispatch 911
When you call: describe your location and assistance needed.

Swarthmore College Department of Public Safety
Benjamin West House
610-328-8330 Business Hours
610-328-8281 After Business Hours

Rachel Head
Assistant Dean and Housing Coordinator
Parrish 110
610-328-8362

Employee Relations Manager
Human Resources Office
Pearson Hall
610-328-8397

Leslie Hempling
Coordinator for Students Disability Services
Parrish 130
610-690-5014

Susan Smythe
ADA Program Manager
Service Building
610-690-2063