SIUC Guidelines for Students with Mobility Impairments in Inconvenient or Emergency Situations
Like all university students you will be facing challenging situations, often for the first time on your own. If you use a wheelchair for mobility you may want to consider some of these situations and plan your responses. Also, please read the Building Emergency Response Team (B.E.R.T.) postings on campus.
- Power Outages – When you are not on the ground floor of a building and power outages stall the usage of elevators, wait 20 minutes before you do anything (unless it is time for the building to close.) In most instances power will soon be restored and you will be able to access elevators. If it is time for the building to close, call your personal assistant and ask them to bring your manual wheelchair to the ground floor of the building. Next call the Department of Public Safety at 453-DPS1 (3771) or 911 and request SIU Police to bring the campus evac-chair to you. The evac-chair will be used by the police to move you to your manual wheelchair, and your personal assistant can push you home. If you do not have a manual wheelchair, call DSS (from 8:00 – 4:30, M-F) and ask to borrow a manual wheelchair. If DSS is closed, tell the DPS or 911 dispatcher that you need them to bring a manual wheelchair. They have off–hours access to the DSS manual wheelchair.
- Ice/Snow/Inclement Weather – Be advised that when weather conditions are unsafe for driving, the Handicapped Van Service may be suspended, other than to take students back to their residences. Plan for several days of bad weather each winter. Talk to your faculty ahead of time about whether or not you will be able to attend on icy/snowy days. DSS can give students letters of verification when van services are suspended.
- Hospitalization – Sign a Release of Information while you are in the hospital and ask staff to fax verification to DSS as soon as possible. DSS can then verify the legitimacy of your absence to faculty. Be aware though that faculty set standards about attendance and whether or not it is a fundamental requirement of their courses. Talk to faculty early in the semester if you have a history of health-related absences or hospitalizations so you know what is expected of you and can make informed choices about your classes.
Before an Emergency:
- Inform the Department of Public Safety (DPS) of your circumstances and request a brief meeting to discuss any special emergency response accommodations.
- Be aware of the Building Emergency Response Team (B.E.R.T.) system and read the postings in each building.
- Develop two escape plans: one assuming help is available and one assuming help is not available
- Always let faculty/staff members know in advance that you will need assistance during emergencies.
During an Emergency:
- Begin pre-planned evacuation procedures.
- Call 911 and tell them who you are and what is needed and initiate B.E.R.T.
- Call your personal attendant as well, if needed.
Fire/Earthquake/Other Emergencies – Call 911 ASAP
Describe your situation and allow the dispatcher to advise you about how to proceed. Be sure to communicate to the dispatcher that you use a wheelchair and whether you will require the use of the evac-chair to escape a dangerous situation. If deemed safe by officials, your wheelchair may be used in the nearest elevator.