People with Disabilities

(Learn more about what St. Thomas University is doing to keep you safe before/during an emergency)

ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY recognizes the need to incorporate provisions within all sections of the CEMP to address the specific needs of people with impairments to their vision, hearing, or mobility. Their disabilities can be permanent or temporary. The ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY CEMP addresses the unique issues regarding identifying people with disabilities who might need assistance during an emergency and provisions within the plan for notification and evacuation. The ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY Emergency Preparedness Task Force ensures that the requirements of students, employees, and visitors with disabilities will be maintained in all sections of the ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY CEMP. The ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY Director of Emergency Management will work through the Academic Enhancement/Student Disability Services to ensure that all people with disabilities will have accessibility to all information, plans, products, and services developed for emergency preparedness.

An employer should not assume that everyone with an obvious disability will need assistance during an evacuation. For example, individuals who are blind may prefer to walk down stairs unassisted. People with disabilities are generally in the best position to assess their particular needs.
  • ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY will follow the same guidance for the student population as is followed for employees.
The Academic Enhancement/Student Disability Services is responsible to notify students with disabilities the availability of the emergency preparedness resources. 
Evacuation Provisions
ST THOMAS UNIVERSITY has identified Primary Area of Refuge on all floors of each building where there is no exit at grade level. Whenever possible, these locations should be in approximately the same place on each floor, close to a stairwell. These designated locations allow for the swift evacuation of persons with disabilities by emergency personnel, as they do not have to locate a variety of offices or locations throughout the building. These locations should have a closing door, a phone for communication, and supplies that enable the person(s) to block smoke from entering under the door. If possible, they also should have a window so that evacuees can signal their location; however, the fire rating of the location is most important. The location must be clearly identified on emergency evacuation plans, so that faculty, staff, students, visitors and emergency personnel may easily locate them. Building Coordinators should always check this designated area, if safe to do so, before evacuating in order to provide complete and accurate information to the Public Safety Department. The Director of Emergency Management shall consult with the local fire department and ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY Facilities Management to identify possible Primary Area of Refuge based on the building configuration and construction.

One of the responsibilities of Building Coordinators is to ensure occupants have evacuated the area. in cases where the Building Coordinator identifies a person with a disability they should either escort the person to a designated Primary Area of Refuge, escort the person from the building or identify a volunteer "buddy" who can assist the person. if the person with a disability is unable to evacuate with assistance, the Building Coordinator should immediately provide the name and location of the individual needing evacuation assistance to the Public Safety Department. Building Coordinators must always check designated Primary Area of Refuge, if safe to do so, before evacuating in order to provide complete and accurate information to impacted Campus Public Safety Department regarding the location of persons who will need evacuation assistance.

In circumstances where evacuation is not possible, and a Primary Area of Refuge has not been identified, a person with a disability should SHELTER-In-PLACE and inform the Building Coordinator and at least two other evacuees of their location. This information is to be provided immediately to the Public Safety Department. If a telephone is available to the person with a disability sheltering in place, they should call the Public Safety Department to confirm their location and provide details regarding their current situation and identify their request for accommodation.