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Thoughts on evacuation drills for people with special needs 

 Thoughts on evacuation drills for people with special needs


Posted on 30th June 2015 at 16:42pm

Editorial Advisory Panel Member Jay Levinson shares some thoughts on evacuating populations with special needs.

Evacuation is never a simple procedure even under seemingly ideal circumstances. Procedures are all the more difficult when evacuating populations with special needs.

Much attention has been paid to hospital scenarios. Recently, however, this writer witnessed a drill evacuating a residents of a centre for persons with mental and/or physical disabilities.

The procedure was time consuming.

As a matter of routine, shortened but updated medical files are kept for each resident. A staff member is also assigned responsibility for each resident, complicated by work shifts. In times of evacuation the abridged medical file are placed in plastic and worn around the neck of each resident. Clothing appropriate for the weather is distributed, and the residents are brought to a safe location awaiting further evacuation if necessary.

Visitors coming for out-patient treatment are expected to follow instructions and self-evacuate, since they are either ambulatory or come with an assistant.

The drill in question was relatively ‘simple’, since it only called for evacuation to a sheltered area inside the building. It showed, however, significant problems, such as the needs of residents while in the evacuation shelter and both prior and subsequent consultation with a psychologist to explain what was happening.

Jay Levinson

Jay Levinson, 30/06/2015
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