Emergencies can happen anytime and anywhere, and anyone can be affected, irrespective of their age or abilities.
However, people with mobility limitations may face additional challenges in emergency situations, which makes them more vulnerable.
Therefore, it is essential to know how to approach and assist people with inability in emergency situations. Here are some tips that can help you do just that.
Mobility Limitations – How To Approach
Mobility limitations refer to the inability of a person to use one or more of his/her extremities, or a lack of strength to walk, grasp, or lift objects.
Mobility limitations may be caused by a number of factors, such as conditions present at birth, disease, and an accident that may be the result of neuro-muscular and orthopedic conditions.
The use of a wheelchair, crutches, a walker, or even a support animal such as a large dog or miniature horse, may be utilized to aid in mobility.
The first step in approaching someone with a disability in an emergency situation is to remain calm.
It can be difficult to stay calm when faced with a stressful situation, but it is important to take deep breaths and focus on the task at hand.
Staying calm will help you think clearly and make sure that the person with a disability is safe.
If possible, offer assistance when approaching someone with a disability in an emergency situation.
This could include helping them evacuate from the area if necessary, providing emotional support if they are feeling scared or overwhelmed, or offering physical assistance if needed for example:
- Before carrying a person, it is important to ask about the best method to carry them. Also, ask first before carrying them.
- Please inquire about any limitations or issues that may potentially impact their safety.
- When carrying an individual, it is important to avoid applying pressure to their arms, legs, or chest. This can cause spasms, pain, and potentially affect their breathing capabilities.
- When a person using a mobility device confronts stairs, they are capable of negotiating them independently. One hand is used to grasp the handrail while the other is used for the crutch or cane. Do not interfere with the person’s movement unless asked to do so, or the nature of the emergency is such that absolute speed is the primary concern. In such cases, it is advisable to inform the person what you’ll need to do and why.
- Offer assistance by asking if you can help by carrying the extra crutch.
- If the stairs are crowded, act as a buffer & run interference for the person.
- While evacuating wheelchair users, sit or kneel to speak to the person at eye level.
- Please note that wheelchair users are equipped with transfer techniques to seamlessly move from one chair to another. Depending on their upper body strength, they may be able to do much of the work themselves.
- People who use motorized wheelchairs probably know their equipment much better than anyone. Before lifting, ask about heavy chair parts that can be temporarily detached, optimal positioning, where you should grab hold, and potential angles for tilting the chair backward.
- Most people who use motorized wheelchairs have limited arm and hand mobility. Ask if they have any specific requirements for being transported down the stairs.
Respect Their Privacy
Finally, always remember to respect the privacy of people with disabilities in emergency situations.
Do not ask personal questions about their disability unless absolutely necessary for safety reasons, instead, focus on providing support & assistance where needed while respecting their right to privacy and dignity during this difficult time.
Follow Up With The Emergency Services
Once you have provided assistance to people with mobile limitations, follow up with the emergency services & let them know about any vulnerable individuals who may need special attention.
Provide as much information as possible, including their specific needs and location.
Remember, every second counts during an emergency, and your timely assistance can save someone’s life.
Emergencies are unpredictable, and they can happen anytime and anywhere.
However, we can all play a role in ensuring that everyone is safe during an emergency.
If you happen to encounter someone with mobile limitations during an emergency, remain calm, offer reassurance, address their specific needs, provide clear instructions, and follow up with the emergency services.
These simple steps will not only help them but also ensure that you are prepared to face any emergency that may come your way.