SOURCE: Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Department of Veterans Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the percentage of full-time wheelchair users with spinal cord injuries who felt they could evacuate from various locations, and the percentage who have a plan for evacuation. Study results will help clinicians and emergency officials understand needs related to evacuation preparedness.
DESIGN: Convenience sample survey.
SETTING: Six Spinal Cord Injury Model System centers, part of the national database funded through the Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
PARTICIPANTS: People (N=487) with spinal cord injuries who use a wheelchair more than 40 hours a week.
INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The percentage of wheelchair users who felt they would be able to safely evacuate, had a plan for safe evacuation, or reported a need for assistive technology and human assistance to evacuate from various locations in the event of an emergency.
RESULTS: The highest percentage of participants felt they would be able to safely evacuate and had a plan for work evacuation. The lowest percentage of participants reported they could evacuate from their city/town in the event of an emergency and had a plan to evacuate their city/town in the event of a natural disaster. A large difference exists between the percentage of participants who felt they could evacuate and those who have a plan for evacuation.
CONCLUSIONS: A large discrepancy exists between the perception that one can evacuate and actually having a plan. The perception that one can evacuate without a plan or the use of assistive technology is an area of concern that must be further addressed by educators. Education must emphasize the need to have a defined evacuation plan and effective utilization of assistive technology.