Appendix 4

              Emergency Response Guidelines for Persons with Disabilities
           and Persons Who Provide Assistance to Persons with Disabilities


  • Determine if event is a life threatening or non-life threatening emergency.
  • Call 911 to report any life threatening emergency to local authorities. Provide follow-up notification to University Police at 789-9999.
  • Call 789-9999 to report all other emergencies to University Police.
  • Call 789-9000 for other campus dispatch/ switchboard emergencies or requests for assistance or information.

Note:  Access to 911 can be made from all pay telephones without depositing money.

A Life Threatening Emergency is an unforeseen event in which there is a clear potential for serious
injury to a person if immediate action is not taken. If in doubt, consider the emergency life threatening.

An Emergency is an unforeseen event that calls for immediate action to protect individuals, the environment or property.

For Additional Information Contact:

  • Disability Resource Services Office at 785-6900
  • Chief of University Police at 785-8711
  • UW-L Emergency Response and Preparedness Plan at:


This will acquaint you with emergency procedures for persons with disabilities.  Please take a few minutes to read and become familiar with these guidelines.  In an emergency there is not time to learn procedures or evacuation routes.

Personal Responsibility

Every individual must accept personal responsibility for safely responding to an emergency. Even though emergency personnel are usually available to assist, this may not always be the case. Alternative plans and arrangements made in advance of an emergency will increase the likelihood that individuals will be able to properly respond during an emergency. This is even more critical to the safety of those individuals with mobility impairments because the use of elevators during certain emergencies is dangerous and should be avoided. Thus, individuals will need to use alternative methods to respond to the emergency.

Since there are constantly changing populations and building occupancy patterns, it is not possible for the University to make reliable arrangements for specific individuals from the many buildings they may occupy in the course of a week. In the absence of this ability this brochure provides a variety of suggestions for individuals to increase the chances of their safe response to an emergency situation.

Recommendations for Persons With Disabilities or Persons Who Provide Assistance to Those With Disabilities:

  1. Contact the Disability Resource Services Office to discuss building evacuation procedures for individuals with disabilities.
  2. Identify in advance possible volunteers, such as classmates, roommates, Residence Hall staff, faculty or fellow workers who are willing and able to assist you during an evacuation. Make specific arrangements for their assistance.
  3. If you are unable to exit a building, contact Protective Services or civil authorities or arrange for others to inform Protective Services or civil authorities of your location.
  4. Know the safest method people could use to assist you. Know how many people you need to provide you that assistance.
  5. If you use a wheelchair, be prepared to explain how and where persons should support you. Practice instructions beforehand.
  6. If you have difficulty being understood, develop a card containing all appropriate instructions and carry it with you.
  7. Carry a loud whistle or similar device you can operate, for use in the event you become trapped.
  8. While attending class or meetings, position yourself near a doorway for easier exit. Do not block doorway.

Evacuation Options During a Fire Alarm

Horizontal Evacuation: Move away from the area of imminent danger to a safe distance (i.e., another wing, an adjoining building, opposite end of the corridor, or outside if on the ground level).

Vertical (Stairway) Evacuation: Stairways can be used by those who are able to evacuate with or without assistance. Persons with sight disability may require the assistance of a sighted person. Persons who must use crutches or other devices as walking aids will need to use their own discretion, especially when there are several flights of stairs.

Stay in Place: Unless danger is imminent, remain in a room with an exterior window and a telephone, closing the door if possible. Call the campus emergency number, 789-9999 and give your name, location, and reason you are calling. Protective Services will relay the information to on-scene emergency personnel. Phone lines normally 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.

Area of Refuge: If the person with disability cannot get far enough away from the danger by using horizontal evacuation, then that person should seek an area of refuge. Usually, the safest areas of refuge are stairwells with fire rated doors. All stairwells with doors that are self-closing are fire-rated. Taking a position in a corridor next to the stairs is a good alternative to a small stair landing crowded with the other building occupants using the stairway. If you need to select an alternate area of refuge seek a space with a telephone, window and fire rated construction.

Disability Guidelines

Mobility Impaired (Wheelchair): Persons using wheelchairs should stay in place or proceed to a more safe location during an emergency. If present, an assistant should exit the building and tell emergency personnel the location of the person with disability. If no assistant is present, the person with disability should locate a telephone and contact the campus emergency number at 789-9999. Persons calling this emergency number should provide their present or planned location and any need for assistance.

Mobility Impaired (Non-Wheelchair): Persons with mobility impairments may be able to use stairs in an emergency. If danger is imminent, the individual should wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. If there is no immediate danger (smoke, fire, or unusual odor), the person with disability may choose to stay in place or move to an area of refuge, until emergency personnel arrive.

Hearing Impaired: Some buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm strobes that flash strobe lights during an emergency. Persons with hearing impairments may not notice the strobe light or hear the alarm horn and will need to be alerted of emergency situations.

Visually Impaired: All buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm horns that sound during an emergency. Since the emergency evacuation route is likely different from the commonly traveled route, persons who are visually impaired may need assistance in evacuating. A person assisting can offer guidance to the individual with a disability.

Residence Halls

Students with disability need to make their location known and should register their room number and description of disability with the Hall Director. The director will keep this record confidential and make it available only to responding emergency personnel for the purpose of locating persons during an emergency.

Students with temporary disability should also register their room number and description of disability with the Hall Director. These students should let the Director know when there is no longer any disability so his/her name can be removed from the record.

During an emergency requiring evacuation, students with a disability should decide whether they should exit the building or stay in their rooms. If staying in their rooms, the students with disability or an assistant should call the campus emergency number at 789-9999. They should inform the dispatcher of their location and reason for calling. The dispatcher will relay the information to University Police and/or the responding emergency personnel. If evacuation is chosen, carry your room key with you in case a return to the room is warranted because of a blocked exit.

Residence Hall rooms qualify as areas of refuge because a telephone is available, the doors, walls and ceiling are fire-rated and rooms have windows.

Wentz Hall has been improved to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Please contact the Office of Residence Life 785-8075 or the Disability Resource Services Office at 785-6900 to discuss current and additional accommodations.

Emergency Procedures General Guidelines

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Immediately report all campus emergencies to campus or local emergency response personnel.
  3. Request assistance with reporting emergency or any other incident specific need.
  4. Do not use an elevator in a fire or tornado emergency.
  5. Treat every alarm as an actual emergency.
  6. Evacuation is the first choice during a fire.
  7. Leave all material in room/class to avoid wasting time.
  8. Avoid smoke filled stairwells.
  9. Never re-enter an evacuated building until permitted by emergency personnel.
  10. If area is filled with smoke, get on the floor.
  11. Be familiar with buildings emergency exit routes, fire alarm pull stations, accessible telephones and other emergency equipment.
  12. Know the safest location(s) to proceed to in response to emergencies that do not require evacuation.
  13. Be familiar with fire and tornado alarm signals. The tornado warning signal is a steady blast three minutes in duration from the County of La Crosse weather warning sirens located throughout the community. The fire alarm system is a steady signal generated by building alarms. The fire alarms signals have no preset duration.
  14. Individuals who need to work in isolated areas after normal building hours should determine telephone availability. If a telephone is not available, contact Protective Services in advance and provide your location and occupancy times.

Document last updated:  2/2003

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