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Evacuation for all

13 September 2021

GES WALLACE, managing director of Evac+Chair International discusses the importance of inclusivity and providing evacuation for all.

It is important to recognise that everyone has the right to a quick, safe means of escape from any commercial building. 

Whether mobility impaired or able-bodied, we could all experience circumstances in our lifetime when it might be more difficult to exit a building in an emergency, for example a sporting injury or pregnancy. 

Grenfell sadly has highlighted the need for a more inclusive approach to the evacuation of the mobility impaired. The tragic incident resulted in 71 deaths including more than 20 who had a mobility impairment. It’s sad but so often true, that we must wait for a disaster to occur, before we look at legislation and make improvements for a safer environment for us all. Evacuation is for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. 

Historically, protest groups including the Direct-Action Network, campaigned for the civil rights of disabled people and to end discrimination. Overall, more than 100,000 people took part in protests in some way, which included demonstrations outside the Houses of Parliament. There were 14 attempts to push civil rights legislation for disabled people through Parliament between the early 1980s and mid-1990s. 

In 1995, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was finally passed. It made it illegal for employers and service providers such as shops and restaurants to discriminate against someone because they were disabled. 

Undoubtedly, there is also a need for evacuation chairs due to the increased age of the workforce. An ever-growing proportion of the workforce is over 65, and accommodations needs to be made considering this. One estimate shows that one third of the total UK workforce is over 50, among whom there will undoubtedly be many who are mobility impaired. In addition to this, it is already the case that nearly 7 million UK citizens of working age are disabled. These demographics must be considered when we strive for the means of evacuation for everyone. 

Being the original and global leader in evacuation chairs, we have been manufacturing the Evac+Chair for nearly 40 years. We have a wide range of products, including the NEW 900H Power which  ensures that whatever your staircase design or personnel requirement, we have a suitable evacuation chair. 

Research conducted by Edwin Galea, from the University of Greenwich, London concluded that the Evac+Chair provides the safest and quickest means of evacuation for the mobility impaired. The experiment tested different evacuation assisted devices, to understand which provided the quickest means escape down 11 flights of stairs at Ghent University Hospital. 

Following the Disability Discrimination Act there has been significant focus and investment to ensure the mobility impaired can access buildings and adaptations must be made to accommodate this. However, there has been little attention given to providing the mobility impaired with a safe and quick means of evacuation. At Evac+Chair we are passionate and committed to driving inclusion, increasing diversity, and supporting businesses to provide a safe means of evacuation for all. 

Evac+Chair recognise that choosing the correct evacuation chair is a huge decision; its Nationwide team of experienced evacuation consultants can provide guidance and support to ensure you select the correct product. Its evacuation assessments are FREE and it is highly recommend you take advantage of these prior to any purchase. In addition, the company offers training, maintenance and servicing giving complete peace of mind, that we will fully support you and your evacuation chair.  

For more information, visit evacchair.co.uk