Make Sure Emergency Evacuation Planning is Part of Every Student's IEP
I had a media call last week from a reporter who wanted to know what information we had on school fire drills for students with disabilities - especially those students in wheelchairs. NFPA has created a guide to help students with disabilities, teachers, administrators, parents, and others look
at some of the issues that are relevant to a student's ability to evacuate a building in the event of an emergency. Preplanning emergency evacuation for every student with a disability should be as important as the language arts support the child requires in order to reach his or her full potential. Every parent of a child with an IEP (Individual Education Program) should print out Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Tool for School Students with Disabilities (when you go to this link, scroll down the page to "For public educators" and you will find the student planning guide), bring it to your school and have your child's IEP team complete the guide. The guide provides a checklist that includes the student's personal evacuation plan. Things included are the student's schedule (day, time, room), emergency notification device needs, a plan to evacuate the student from the building, type of assistance needed, assistants assigned to help the student and information on service animal needs.
This guide should be completed for every student with an IEP and become part of the student's program which is reviewed at least once a year. In addition to parents advocating for inclusion of this guide in a student's IEP, the local fire department can play an important role. I challenge fire departments to meet with school officials, provide a copy of Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Tool for School Students with Disabilities (when you go to this link, scroll down the page to "For public educators" and you will find the student planning guide) and encourage the school system to include this important information as part of every student's education plan.
Let me know if you are able to make evacuation planning available for every child who receives special education and related services.