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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Emergency Preparedness Plan > Emergency Evacuation Procedure

 

Emergency Preparedness Plan

Emergency Evacuation Procedure

The purpose of this procedure is to establish techniques and duties, to promote planning, and to establish training for the staff of Teachers College for fire and other emergency evacuations. This plan has been created in an effort to establish safe guidelines for all employees, students and visitors in the event of an emergency as prescribed by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration section 1910.38.



Scope

This EEP procedure applies to all occupants of campus buildings regardless of their department or organization or affiliation.

Coordination with Other Emergency Plans

A building’s evacuation plan is a key component in department safety plans and College crisis management planning and must be coordinated with these other emergency/safety plans.

  1. TC Emergency Management Procedure

    This EEP outlines procedures for emergency evacuations. It is an addendum to the TC Emergency Management Procedure.

  2. Departmental Emergency Operations Procedure

    Individual academic and administrative units are also required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration section 1910.38 to develop their own plans to meet individual department needs. Staff from the Office of Public Safety is available to assist, but review and dialog among departmental management must be part of the process.

Emergency Evacuation for Persons with Disabilities

This section provides a general guideline of evacuation procedures for persons with disabilities who may have difficulty exiting during fire and/or other building emergencies. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors with mobility related disabilities must develop their own evacuation plans and identify their primary and secondary evacuation routes from each building they use.

  • Be familiar with evacuation options
  • Seek evacuation assistants who are willing to assist in case of an emergency.
  • Ask supervisors, faculty, the Office of Access and Services for Individuals With Disabilities, or the Office of Public Safety about evacuation plans for buildings.

Emergency Exit Policy

Currently, no campus building has an Area of Rescue Assistance that is operationally approved. Areas of Rescue Assistance are designated places where people with mobility related disabilities remain temporarily in safety to await further instructions or assistance during emergency evacuations. Currently, individuals with mobility related disabilities should employ one of the following evacuation options that best meets their individual needs.

General Evacuation Guidelines For People with Disabilities (Mobility Related)

  1. DO NOT use elevators unless authorized to do so by public safety, police, or fire personnel. If the situation is life threatening, call 911 from a campus telephone, or from a non-campus or pay telephone.
  2. All emergency exit corridors and stairwells are resistant to fire and smoke for approximately two hours. These are the safest areas during an emergency evacuation. Disabled persons are advised to proceed to them. Rescue personnel are instructed to check all exit corridors and stairwells first for any stranded persons.
  3. If people with mobility related disabilities cannot exit or be lifted, they should be moved to a safer area, (e.g., most enclosed stairwells), into an adjoining building behind the fire doors, or to an office with a closed door located a safe distance from the hazard.
  4. 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 either an evacuation chair or carry technique. DO NOT evacuate the disabled in their wheelchairs. This is standard practice to ensure the safety of disabled people and volunteers. Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance. Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt. Do not make an emergency situation worse.

Evacuation Options for Individuals with Disabilities (Mobility Related)

In order to meet the guidelines listed above, there are three basic evacuation options:

  • Horizontal evacuation: using building exits to the outside ground level or going into unaffected wings of multi–building complexes. For example, individuals may go from Thompson to Zankel or from Macy to Zankel or Macy to Grace Dodge.
  • Stairway evacuation: using steps to reach ground level exits from the building.
  • Stay in Place: unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire resistant door. With this approach, the person may keep in contact with emergency services by dialing 911 or extension 3333 and reporting his or her location directly to TC Public Safety or other emergency personnel. Emergency services will immediately relay this location to on–site emergency personnel who will determine the necessity for evacuation. Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies. If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object.

The Stay in Place approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings or buildings where an “area of refuge” is neither nearby nor available. It may also be more appropriate for an occupant who is alone when the alarm sounds. A fire label on the jam and frame can identify a “solid” or fire resistant door. Non–labeled 1-3/4” thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.

Specific Guidelines for Unique Circumstances (Non-Mobility Related)

Prior planning and practicing of emergency evacuation routes are important in assuring a safe evacuation.

  1. Persons Who Are Not Able to Exit Using Stairs
    • Persons using wheelchairs may evacuate horizontally into another building. Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by trained professionals (NYFD). Only in situations of extreme danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair users. Moving a wheelchair down the stairs or moving an individual is not safe unless an individual has the proper training. The individual needing assistance should be consulted about the proper way to move him/her.
    • Persons with mobility related disabilities, reduced lung capacity, severe back ailments, heart disease or other conditions that may cause him/her to navigate stairs slower than those without one of these conditions may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. If there is no immediate danger (detectable smoke, fire, or unusual odor), the person may choose to stay in the building, using the other evacuation options until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.
  2. Deaf and Hearing Impaired
    • Deaf/ hard of hearing-impaired persons may not hear audible fire alarms.
    • Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch or eye contact, or by turning the light switch on and off. Do not use the light switch method if you smell natural gas in the area. Clearly state the problem. Be prepared to write a brief note to advise of the situation and evacuation instructions.
  3. Visually Impaired
    • Tell the person the nature of the emergency. Give verbal instructions to advise about the safest route or direction using estimated distances and directional terms
    • Do not grasp a visually impaired person’s arm. Offer your arm for guidance.
    • As you walk, tell the person where you are and where obstacles are located. When you reach safety, orient the person to the location and ask if further assistance is needed.

Classroom Emergency Procedures for Faculty

Faculty and adjuncts are expected to:

  1. Provide their classes or audiences with general information relating to emergency evacuation procedures. This information should be shared during the first week of class or at the start of a seminar.
  2. Know how to report an emergency from the classroom being used.
  3. Assure that persons with mobility related needs have the information they need. The faculty member should be familiar with the procedures for individuals with mobility related disabilities and be able to direct visitors with different needs.
  4. Take responsible charge of the classroom and follow emergency procedures for all building alarms and emergencies.

As a faculty member, what do I need to know about Emergency Preparedness?

The faculty member is usually seen as an authority figure for the student, and can influence how the student responds in an emergency. Calm, collected, and clear directions given by the faculty member will have a calming effect on the students. Knowledge of the emergency evacuation procedures will enable the faculty member to promote orderly and safe evacuations.

  • Emergency Evacuation Plan (EEP)

    The College has a Emergency Management Plan (EMP) covering specific procedures for personnel to follow in case of an emergency. Additionally, each academic and administrative department/unit should have its own plan, based on the overarching plan. The department plans will focus on very specific issues and procedures for their offices and employees. These plans will cover events such as: fire, earthquake, power outage, bomb threat, severe weather etc. Faculty will find it helpful to review both the Emergency Management Plan (EMP) of which this Emergency Evacuation Plan (EEP) is a part, and the individual department emergency procedures to see if the plans differ from the general information provided in this section.

  • Building Evacuation Routes

    Floor plans and evacuation routes are posted in each classroom and at each elevator landing of each building on campus. Check your classroom(s) to see if the plans are posted. If you have trouble finding copies of the floor plan, call the Office of Public Safety at extension 3098.

  • Emergency Assembly Points

    Students should be informed that upon evacuating a campus building, students should go across the street and away from the building where the emergency is occurring. Additionally, please instruct the students to neither interfere with responding emergency services nor place themselves at risk of injury from the emergency. A faculty member should report to TC Public Safety or other emergency personnel if someone from their class has not evacuated the building.

  • Evacuation for Persons with Mobility Challenges

    If there is a person with a mobility related disability in a class, the faculty member should be knowledgeable of the evacuation procedures for persons with mobility related disabilities. Four options are available to persons with mobility challenges:
    • Horizontal Evacuation to outside or another building, if available
    • Stairway Evacuation
    • Stay in Place unless danger is imminent; and
    • Area of Rescue, if available. (This option is not yet available)

Unless Otherwise Instructed, Elevators Cannot Be Used During An Emergency Evacuation!

  • Reporting To Emergency Response Individuals

    After exiting, faculty members should inform emergency personnel of individuals with mobility related disabilities who are waiting to be evacuated or of individuals who are trapped in locations within the building.

  • Fire Alarms

    Fire alarms will be a sound of a slow WHOOP, HORN or BELL and may include strobe lights for people with hearing disabilities. When the alarm sounds, everyone must exit the alarmed area according to the evacuation plan. Everyone must evacuate immediately!

    Individuals who need assistance during an evacuation are encouraged to self identify and discuss their needs with someone in advance who might assist them in leaving the building and/or who will inform emergency personnel of their presence and specifically where they are located so that further assistance can be provided.

How often are fire evacuation drills held, and what should I do if there is a drill during my class?

  1. Fire evacuation drills are held on a routine basis throughout the College. Each academic building will have two fire evacuation drills per calendar year.
  2. All fire alarm drills are announced in advance. The College does not conduct unannounced fire drills.
  3. Anytime you hear an alarm you should immediately evacuate using the exit nearest to your location. If there is an alarm, it is expected that you will evacuate and will instruct others to do so as well.
  4. During an alarm you should follow the guidelines mentioned earlier in this document.



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