Emergency Evacuation for Students with Documented Disabilities

Students who have registered with a documented disability are strongly encouraged to work with the AccessAbility Services office in advance to identify any concerns about evacuation in case of emergency and to develop a Personal Emergency Plan (PEP). Students should be mindful that they may need emergency evacuation from any building on campus, not just their residence hall, and plan accordingly.

The following are the emergency evacuation guidelines for persons with documented disabilities. As standard practice:

Evacuation for the Mobility, Visually Impaired, Hearing Impaired

Persons with mobility impairments may be allowed to "defend in place" and not be required to evacuate if they are:

  1. located above or below the level of building exit, and
  2. physically cannot exit without assistance.

Persons with Mobility Impairment

Individuals who walk with canes, crutches, walkers, etc. and those who utilize wheelchairs should decide whether or not they can descend stairs or evacuate a building in an emergency with little assistance from others. If not, they should defend in place within their room.

Persons who are Visually Impaired

Persons who are visually impaired can, with the assistance of others, evacuate a building using the stairs if they are familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes and if stairs are safe to use. If not, they should, defend in place within their room.

Persons who are Hearing Impaired

Some buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm strobe lights; however, many are not. Reasonable accommodations for persons who are deaf/hard of hearing may be met by modifying the building fire alarm system or through other alternative methods.

Procedures for “Defending in Place”

Unless the fire or other hazard is life threatening to a mobility-impaired person, or the person is on the ground floor (exit level of the building), then it may be advisable for that person to remain in her or his currently occupied room. If the individual decides to defend in place, he or she must immediately:

  • Notify others evacuating that you are remaining in your room and ask them to contact campus police with that information immediately upon exiting the building.
  • If a phone is available, call Campus Police at 413-538-2304 to inform them that you are defending in place, and your exact location. Having a cell phone with you at all times and programming the Campus Police phone number 413-538-2304 into your phone can allow you to alert Campus Police if an emergency occurs and you have concerns about evacuating.
  • Close the door to prevent smoke entry, and, if necessary, put towels or any other available fabric at the crack at bottom of the door.
  • If possible, move to a window with a brightly colored cloth to wave to the fire department. If it is at night wave a flashlight in the window. Do not open or break the window unless absolutely necessary (opening or breaking the window could allow smoke to enter the room from the floor below or injure a person below).

As outlined on the Campus Police website under Building Evacuation.