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Emergency Procedures for Students, Faculty, Staff and Visitors with Disabilities

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Applicability

The University of Georgia is committed to providing equal access to emergency procedures (alerting, evacuation and sheltering) for students, faculty, staff and visitors with disabilities. This document is intended to outline departmental responsibilities, emergency procedures, and resources available to the University community.

The University recognizes that individuals with disabilities may require assistance with alerting, evacuating and sheltering in the event of an emergency. As a result, the University asks all individuals (students, faculty, staff and visitors) who may need assistance in an emergency to self-identify themselves to the University. Once an individual has self-identified, the University will work with the individual to develop a Personal Emergency Plan that includes specific emergency procedures pertaining to alerting, evacuation and sheltering in place in the event of an emergency.

Roles and Responsibilities

UGA Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) is responsible for:

  • Collecting information submitted by individuals with disabilities via the Emergency Assistance Referral Form (EARF).
  • Coordinating with the UGA Disability Resource Center (DRC) to work with students who have self-identified to the DRC and need assistance developing a Personal Emergency Plan.
  • Coordinating with the UGA Equal Opportunity Office (EOO) to work with faculty, staff or visitors who have self-identified to the EOO and need assistance developing a Personal Emergency Plan.
  • Coordinating with the EOO and DRC regarding the identification of Voluntary Emergency Assistants for individuals with disabilities who request Personal Emergency Plans.
  • Coordinating with the Building Safety and Security Representatives (BSSRs), who serve as the 24/7 emergency point of contact regarding safety and security issues affecting their building, on integrating the Personal Emergency Plans for any individuals with disabilities in a BSSR’s building into the overall Building Emergency Action Plan (BEAP).
  • Providing training to BSSRs, Volunteer Emergency Assistants, and building staff on assisting individuals with disabilities in the event of an emergency.
  • Coordinating with local first responders regarding campus buildings where individuals with disabilities, who may or may not have Personal Emergency Plans, require assistance.

UGA Equal Opportunity Office (EOO) is responsible for:

  • Providing information, in collaboration with UGA Human Resources, to faculty, staff and visitors regarding the self-identification process for individuals with disabilities who require assistance with alerting, evacuating and sheltering in the event of an emergency and the resources available for creating a Personal Emergency Plan.
  • Coordinating with the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) in order to complete a Personal Emergency Plan for individuals with disabilities who so desire.
  • Assisting OEP in the identification of Voluntary Emergency Assistants in buildings where individuals with disabilities have requested Personal Emergency Plans.

UGA Disability Resource Center (DRC) is responsible for:

  • Providing information to students regarding the self-identification process for individuals with disabilities who require assistance with alerting, evacuating and sheltering in the event of an emergency and the resources available for creating a Personal Emergency Plan.
  • Coordinating with the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) in order to complete a Personal Emergency Plan for individuals with disabilities who so desire.
  • Assisting OEP in the identification of Voluntary Emergency Assistants in buildings where individuals with disabilities have requested Personal Emergency Plans.

Building Emergency Plans and Building Safety and Security Representatives (BSSRs)

Each building on campus has one or more designated Building Safety and Security Representatives (BSSRs) who serve as the 24/7 emergency point of contact regarding safety and security issues affecting their building.  OEP is responsible for the coordination of the BSSR program and will work with BSSRs on integrating Personal Emergency Plans into the overall emergency plan for the building. The BSSRs for each campus building are identified at https://emer.prepare.uga.edu/osepforms/building_list.html.

One of the BSSRs’ primary functions is to develop – in conjunction with the Office of Emergency Preparedness – an emergency plan for their building, referred to as a Building Emergency Action Plan (BEAP).

All BEAPs take into account the presence of persons with disabilities who require additional assistance in order to effectively alert, evacuate and shelter them during an emergency, requiring that the following evacuation assistance be provided to building occupants with the following disabilities:

  • Visually Impaired Persons – Announce the type of emergency, offer your arm for guidance, tell the person where you are going, and ask if further help is needed once you reach safety.
  • People with Hearing Limitations – Turn lights on/off to gain the person’s attention, or indicate directions with gestures or write a note with evacuation directions, and assist to safety as needed.
  • People Using Crutches, Canes or Walkers – Evacuate these individuals as injured persons, assist and accompany to the evacuation site if possible, or use a sturdy chair (or one with wheels) to move the person, or help carry the individual to safety.
  • Wheelchair Users – Check with the individual on their preference, determine if an evacuation chair is available, remove any immediate dangers, immediately advise arriving first responders of special evacuation cases. Evacuation chair locations on the UGA Main Campus may be found at www.prepare.uga.edu.

The above guidance is also available to UGA employees in a small emergency flip chart format (E-mail prepare@uga.edu to request copies),  and through the OEP web site at www.prepare.uga.edu.

Self-Identification and Personal Emergency Plans (PEPs) for Persons with Disabilities

The University of Georgia’s Office of Emergency Preparedness encourages proactive planning on the part of the entire University community for emergency situations.

It is therefore recommended that any person with a disability who would need assistance alerting, evacuating and sheltering in the event of an emergency take the initiative to self-identify to the University by completing an Emergency Assistance Referral Form (EARF).

Emergency Assistance Referral Forms for Students for pdf of the form to mail or fax or Online Emergency Assistance Referral Form for Students to complete an online version.

Emergency Assistance Referral Forms for Faculty, Staff and Visitors for pdf of the form to mail or fax or Online Emergency Assistance Referral Form for Faculty, Staff and Visitors to complete an online version.

The Office of Emergency Preparedness, the Equal Opportunity Office, UGA Human Resources and the Disability Resource Center are available to help individuals locate, access and complete the EARF and address any questions that arise when doing so.

To help encourage self-identification, the Office of Emergency Preparedness will send an email to the University community via ArchNews twice a year (in January and September) containing a link to the respective EARFs for students and faculty, staff and visitors.  Additionally, Building Safety and Security Representatives (BSSRs), who serve as the 24/7 emergency point of contact regarding safety and security issues affecting their building, are encouraged to annually canvas their building’s occupants to inquire if any occupants have disabilities that will necessitate additional assistance and, if so, give them the option to complete an Emergency Assistance Referral Form (EARF).

Completed EARFs are to be submitted to the Office of Emergency Preparedness which will review them and contact the individual requesting assistance to discuss developing a Personal Emergency Plan (PEP). The development of a PEP is optional.  If the individual desires a PEP, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, in consultation with UGA’s Disability Resource Center (if person with disability is a student) or UGA’s Equal Opportunity Office (if person with disability is faculty, staff or a visitor), will work with the individual, using their completed EARF, to develop a practical and effective plan for emergency communication, evacuation and sheltering that may include:

  • Identification of the best emergency alerting methods (UGAAlert, computer alerts, etc.)
  • Identifying Safe Wait Areas – i.e., the safest area(s) located on each floor within a building where individuals with disabilities can await assistance from emergency responders (e.g., police, fire, medical)
  • Designating a means to inform emergency responders of the location of the individual with a disability
  • Identification of “Volunteer Emergency Assistants” (see below)
  • Location of back-up medical or assistive equipment and medications
  • Practice/drill opportunities

The PEP will be kept on file by the Office of Emergency Preparedness and shared only with those persons who have a “need to know,” including the BSSRs for the building(s) where the individual lives and/or works, emergency responders, the supervisor of the person with a disabilities (employee) and University Housing (on campus student residents).

Any individual with a PEP is encouraged to update the Office of Emergency Preparedness whenever a change in circumstances would warrant modification of the PEP.

Volunteer Emergency Assistants

Regardless of whether a Personal Emergency Plan has been developed, any person with a disability requiring assistance during an emergency is encouraged to share information with several reliable people (“Volunteer Emergency Assistants”) in that person’s classes, residence hall or work area about his/her need for assistance during an emergency.  Suggested information to share with “Volunteer Emergency Assistants” includes:

  • Your schedule
  • What type of assistance you may need in the event of an emergency
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Where your emergency supplies are kept
  • How to operate your assistive devices, if any
  • The size and weight of your assistive devices and whether or not they are collapsible for transport
  • Location of Safe Wait Areas (i.e., the safest area(s) located on each floor within a building where individuals with disabilities can await assistance from emergency responders)

The foregoing information should also be shared with the BSSRs for the building(s) where the individual with a disability lives and/or works.

As part of developing a Personal Emergency Plan, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, in consultation with UGA’s Disability Resource Center (if the person with disability is a student) or UGA’s Equal Opportunity Office (if the person with disability is faculty, staff or a visitor), will assist in identifying Voluntary Emergency Assistants for individuals with disabilities who require assistance alerting, evacuating and sheltering in the event of an emergency.

Emergency Alerting – Before An Emergency

The University of Georgia maintains an emergency mass notification system called UGAAlert. Student, faculty and staff’s local contact phone number and their UGA email address are automatically loaded into the alert system; however, it is important for faculty, staff and students to check their information, add additional phone contact or email information and to select text messaging as a preference in the system via the UGAAlert web site at www.ugaalert.uga.edu. Text messaging is one of the fastest options to receive an emergency alert from the UGAAlert system and participation in receiving the text alerts is encouraged.

Additionally, students, faculty and staff may download the optional UGAAlert Desktop software that will provide a scrolling emergency alert message (including audible alerts and text to speech capability) across desktop and laptop computers whenever a UGAAlert message is sent to the University community. The UGAAlert Desktop software is free, but students, faculty and staff must take action by personally downloading the software to their computer or by having their departmental IT representative initiate the download. The UGAAlert Desktop software may be downloaded at https://eits.uga.edu/hardware_and_software/software.

Building fire alarms, public address systems (as applicable), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios, “all-call” phone systems and other methods of notification may also be utilized by individual buildings to warn building occupants of an emergency situation or approaching severe weather. These types of alerting methods will also be considered when developing a Personal Emergency Plan for individuals within University buildings.

Emergency Alerting – During an Emergency

Individuals with communication disabilities may be unable to obtain necessary evacuation information from standard auditory fire alarms or public address systems. As a consequence, hearing and visually impaired individuals may need to be alerted and given further instruction in emergency situations by Volunteer Emergency Assistants. Nearby Volunteer Emergency Assistants, faculty, staff or students should also offer assistance to visually impaired individuals who may need help negotiating unfamiliar routes during an emergency evacuation.

If forced to stay in place during an emergency evacuation, the person with a disability should contact the University Police at 911 to notify them of his or her location (in addition to asking others who are evacuating to alert the University Police). The University Police will then dispatch an officer and/or coordinate with other emergency responders at the scene to assist the individual with the evacuation. The individual should stay on the phone line with the communication officer until first responders arrive.

Evacuation Chairs

Several campus buildings are equipped with emergency evacuation chairs to assist individuals with mobility issues or other disabilities. OEP offers training sessions to BSSRs and other campus faculty and staff on how to use emergency evacuation chairs. For more information on the emergency evacuation chair training and to see a map of the evacuation chair locations on campus, go to www.prepare.uga.edu.

Contact Information

Office of Emergency Preparedness
Hodgson Oil Building – Suite 200 South
286 Oconee Street
Athens, Georgia 30602-1977
(706) 542-5845 (phone)
(706) 542-4664 (fax)
prepare@uga.edu

UGA’s Disability Resource Center
114 Clark Howell Hall
Athens, Georgia 30602
(706) 542-8719(phone)/ (706) 542-8778 (tty)
(706) 542-7719(fax)
dsinfo@uga.edu

UGA’s Disability Coordinator
Equal Opportunity Office

119 Holmes-Hunter Academic Building
Athens, Georgia 30602
(706) 542-7912(phone)
(706) 542-2822(fax)
ugaeoo@uga.edu

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