Safety and Emergency Evacuation for Persons with Disabilities

While the University of Memphis strives to create a safe campus environment and has enacted policies and procedures to that end, including holding fire drills each semester, all students should assume responsibility for their personal safety by becoming familiar with their surroundings and by educating themselves on safety measures to use in the event of fire, earthquake or hazardous chemical spill. Students with disabilities should take note of all accessible exits in each building or residence hall they frequent, check the evacuation plans for each building, and plan a strategy for each building in the event of an emergency. Residence Life staff hold meetings in each housing facility to orient students to the specific procedures for their facility. It is the responsibility of students to attend these meetings to learn the procedures and to follow them.

Emergency evacuation plans are posted in each building. In addition, DRS compiles a safety evacuation list each semester for each classroom building which includes the names of students who would need special assistance in an emergency and the time and location of their classes in each building. The list also includes the names and locations of students who live in residence halls who may need assistance in an emergency. Police Services (Main Campus and Lambuth Campus), Employee Safety and Health, and DRS keep a copy of the safety evacuation list for handy reference in the event of an emergency. After the last day to add classes, the safety evacuation list is compiled from students' schedules. If students drop a class or if a room number changes, they should notify DRS so the correction can be made to the list. This list works only if it is current and complete.

General Considerations for Evacuation

  1. Do Not Use the Elevator during a fire or other emergency!
  2. If your disability is of a nature that permits you to evacuate with minor assistance from another person, ask for help and evacuate at the nearest illuminated exit. If you will be evacuating at a slower pace than the standard flow of traffic, it is generally best to wait until the bulk of the traffic has exited, unless you are in immediate danger.
  3. If you use a wheelchair and need to evacuate from a floor other than ground level, proceed to the nearest illuminated exit sign. In most cases, this will be an enclosed stairwell that can provide protection until rescue personnel arrive. When most of the traffic has cleared, enter the stairwell landing and wait for the Fire Department or Police Services personnel. Doors to the stairwell should be kept closed. The average response time for the Fire Department to arrive on campus is generally three to seven minutes, depending on the specific campus location. All stairwells are routinely checked by Fire Department personnel in emergency situations.
  4. Unless you are in immediate danger, do not allow untrained people to carry you down the steps. Doing so can present hazards of a different nature. In the event of immediate danger, if there is not time to wait for trained rescue personnel, be prepared in advance to explain to your helpers the best way for them to carry you to safety, depending on your personal circumstances. Remember that wheelchairs have many moveable parts and vulnerable points that are not constructed to withstand the stress of lifting.
  5. Depending on the nature of the emergency and how it is being controlled, the Fire Department may determine that you are not in any danger and need not evacuate. Only Fire Department personnel have authority to make such a decision. In some instances, Fire Department personnel may determine that is safe for you to be evacuated by elevator, but again, only Fire Department personnel have the authority to make this decision. Do not use the elevator for evacuation unless you are instructed by Fire Department personnel to do so.
  6. If you have a cell phone, you may wish to pre-program the UofM Police Services 901.678.HELP number (901.678.4357) into your phone; this is the same location you will reach if you call 911 from a campus phone.