Evacuation chairs – advice and guidance
Equipment Advice: we can also help with choosing the right Evacuation Equipment, how much or many do you need and where to locate it. This is vital when you are working to a budget or have specific needs. Some organisations are just interested in selling the maximum amount of kit possible, here at EHS we are not tied into any one manufacturer and can offer the right equipment at the right prices. We also have special relationships with most producers and will only recommend the right Evacuation Chair or Rescue Mattress regardless of price.
Our service also extends to offering advice and guidance on where to locate the Chairs once you have purchased them. We can also come to your location and carry out an assessment for you and make recommendations. In most cases this is free of charge (subject to certain criteria) and could help you avoid costly mistakes with choosing the right equipment for your business.
What should you consider when purchasing an evacuation chair?
- Do you need chairs that go up and down the stairs or are they for descent only?
- Are you evacuating from a basement to an upper floor? If so extra help may be required.
- If the person cannot transfer from a wheelchair into an Evacuation Chair have you considered powered options?
- Are the landings of sufficient width to turn the chair?
- Does the equipment need regular maintenance?
- Have you got sufficient equipment to cover the building?
- For horizontal evacuation, Rescue Mattresses may be a better option.
- Does the Chair need Armrests or a footrest? Or they an expensive option you do not require.
- Have you carried out PEEPS (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans) for any staff who may require it.
- Does your current provider have access to a range of options or can they only supply their own?
- Is it possible to mix and match equipment to fit your budget? Sometimes this is the best option.
What types of evacuation equipment exist and how does it differ?
- Tracked Evacuation Chairs, also known as evac chairs, stair chairs and rescue chairs. These have a rotating rubber track, which when it goes down the stairs creates friction, which in turn slows the descent down. Requires only one operator, but it’s always recommended to have at least two people available when operating these. There are many different makes on the market now with different weight capacities and sizes. These also come with and without armrests, footrests and brakes. Some have built in carry handles, designed to help go back up a few flights of stairs in an emergency. Bear in mind that these chairs primary function is to go down the stairs, so any movement up will potentially be heavy and awkward. Also that they require a straight staircase to operate on.
- Transit, Ambulance and Carry Chairs are designed as a low cost option. Mainly used to go up the stairs, but can go down as well (and ok for spinal staircases). These Chairs are carried by at least two operators (which you need to bear in mind when thinking of going with this option). These have a much lower weight capacity, which you will need to factor in if you are purchasing these with a larger individual in mind.
- Powered Chairs as the name suggests use a battery to drive a motor, which in turn will make the equipment climb and descend most types of staircases. Requiring no manual handling, these are also very good if an individual has to remain in a wheelchair (some Powered Chairs can take the individual and their wheelchair at the same time), or has trouble transferring into an Evacuation Chair. Again there are a wide range of these on the market and because they are far more expensive than a Tracked Chair, you should always seek expert advice when thinking of purchasing.
- Rescue Mattresses can also be known as Sliders, Pads and Rescue Sheets. These are essentially a foam mattress with a shiny material (usually UPVC) underside which is pulled along the floor by at least two people. Used to go down the stairs only, these are very useful for clients who may need to remain horizontal. Care homes and the NHS are the main buyers of this type of equipment.
What legislation applies to evacuation chairs & equipment?
The government has health & safety laws in place of which businesses must comply. For example, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 gives a ‘responsible person’ a legal obligation to provide a safe means of escape for people who are mobility impaired. As well as obvious signs of mobility impairment, such as a physical or mental disability, a person may have sustained an injury which restricts their movement, could be heavily pregnant or visually impaired. The RRFS Order states that a safe and effective means of escape must be available for everyone in the building.
The order also requires that everyone should know what to do in the event of a fire, staff members and visitors alike. a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) should be developed for every individual who might have special needs when it comes to evacuating the building.
In addition to the RRFS Order, there is also legislation in place to cover discrimination and equality; such as The Equality Act 2010. In short, Disability legislation means it is illegal to limit access to parts of your premises based on potential difficulties of employees or visitors to reach them. Although this legislation is different to the RRFS Order, and does not necessarily call for the use of Evacuation Chairs, it may be worth considering when making your purchases of such equipment or other similar and more suitable solutions such as patient transport chairs.
How can we help?
At EHS we are not tied into any of the manufacturers, so we can offer you the best equipment, training and advice at the right price. We have deals with most of the main organisations so can usually get you a much better deal than going direct. Contact us today to see what we can do for your business.