Good Question: How do hospitals plan to evacuate people in wheelchairs if there’s a fire?

How do hospitals plan to evacuate people in wheelchairs if there’s a fire?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — What happens if you’re in a wheelchair, you’re on the top floor of a building, and a fire breaks out?

One local hospital says people in wheelchairs will not be stranded during an emergency on an upper floor. A sign at the hospital is what prompted one of you to write to us with a good question about how to get to safety.

You may have seen a sign on medical facilities, school, and stores that says: “In case of fire, do not use elevator, use stairs.”

Tom, who uses a wheelchair, saw this sign at Strong Hospital and sent us this photo, along with the question: “Am I, and other people in wheelchairs, supposed to burn up with the building? Obviously, we can’t use stairs. Do these establishments have a plan in place to get people like us out?”

The University of Rochester Medical Centers says there is a plan in place.

A representative says that, in the event of a fire or other emergency, hospital staff would assist people with disabilities and patients to evacuate and get to safety. It’s part of the hospital’s emergency preparedness plan.

But I wanted to know how would staff assist someone in a wheelchair? would they physically carry them downstairs?

URMC says yes, if necessary. “Staff would team up to carry patients and disabled persons down the stairs to evacuate the area.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law in December, saying high-rise buildings are required to have an “efficient emergency evacuation plan” in place for people with disabilities. If a building owner does not comply, it’s a $500 fine.

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