I was hoping others could give me their input as to what plan they have in place to get your son out of the school from the second floor when they are not able to use the elevator? We would like to get something added to the IEP and are looking for suggestions of things that work well for others.

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We ran into this while Justin was in jr high. Our high school is all one floor. In jr high, there was outside access from the first and second floor but he had to use the elevator for the third floor. We brought the fire dept out(we live in a small town and they are volunteer, they were happy to do whatever we wanted!) and went over the options. We decided on a fire chair. I honestly do not know what they are called! Anyway, Justin was transferred over into it and carried down the stairs by designated people if they needed out before the firemen got there. We also had a system in place to where Justin was first priority out of the building. On fire drills we implemented the actual plan once a semester just for practice. If it wasnt an actual fire, just smoke or the smell, the fireman used the over ride key on the elevator to bring Justin to the second floor and out. We did have an actual tornado come through town before we had all of this in place. Justin was on the third floor. Justins amazingly wonderful science teacher(a football coach) was on the first floor. During a tornado, all classes move to the first and second floor for safety. The coach handed his class off to the teacher next door, sprinted up the stairs, picked Justin up(once the Tornado alarm went off, the elevator went to the bottom floor and shut down) and brought him to the first floor and put him into a rolling chair and held onto him. After that, we had stuff in place! We were so thankful for the coach. He kept himself right next to Justin holding onto him until the tornado passed!

I had this discussion with my son's school several years ago. What ultimately worked was involving the local fire department. The chief came to meet with the school at my request. The school had been saying, "We have a safe place for him to be. He can wait there while the fire department comes.... We don't know why this is not OK." So I asked them in front of the fire chief, "Which one of you will stay with him while he is waiting?" There was shocked silence. Then I re-offered my suggestions: 1) Assign him only to classes that can meet on the first floor and make sure the classes he needs are available on the first floor; 2) Invest in one of the devices used successfully to move people with disabilities during 9/11; 3) The fire chief fully supported me because he knows from experience what can happen and has actually been there.

The school purchased an evacuation sled. Several administrators tried it and many people were trained to use it. LifeSlider was what we used, but there are many other products MedSled, Evacusled, (MDA Quest Magazine, 7/2010), Evacutrak, EZGlide, Stryker Evacuation slyde, and some that hook onto wheelchairs. I would ask your fire department to recommend one,

Be persistent. Use experts to speak for you. Have materials ready to show them what is recommended. Go to the School Board if you have to. Let us know how it turns out.
we are in a 2 story building too. They have one of those sled/chairs for him and have special people assigned to him to get him out of the building. The problem we ran into was they only had 1 of those chairs and they have 2 kids at the school in wheelchairs. We asked what they do with both boys needing to use it. they said they would take one down and outside then go back up and get the other one. I said NO WAY that is unexceptable to expect one child to remain inside and wait for the equipment are you kidding me? well after much encouragement and support from the district special ed department they decided they would purchase a 2nd chair! can you imagine being the child left inside the building while the fire alarms are blarring and everyone else is leaving the building!
It occurred to me that I might share my own decision process concerning the evacuation device, My son weighs 230 lbs and his wheelchair is another 250 lbs. I could not see how a regular minimally trained person would handle one of those devises that carries the chair down with it. I wanted to make sure that even if the device "got away" from the person guiding it down the stairs that John would be OK. Because he has had broken bones, I preferred a rigid device, but they did not have the softer ones available then. I think the configuration of the stairs might matter. John actually rode the device down the stairs by himself with no injuries and it did not flip over. Others tried it as well.

The other issue is how to get the person out of the wheelchair and into the evacuation device. There are two methods I have used successfully (well, three) to get John in and out of his chair: the two person fireman lift, a sheet (preferably with handles) and a patient lift sling. My preference is the sling if it is available since it has handles and is familiar to him, but I have used the others.

Would love to get someone like Consumer Reports to test these devices, but lack the energy to create a campaign to get them to do so.

The school does have an evacutrak, I will add a link below. I am not having any problems with cooperation, in fact we are going over it as they want our son to have input and feel comfortable with what is in place. The evacutrak does not have the solid cabinet that it is stored in but a plastic cover. So it is sitting on the top of the stairs and the students are able to throw trash into it. When they went to use it (as practice) my son did not want to get into it as it was used as a trash can.

Ginny you talked about transfering which is another important aspect. Currently he can still get out of his chair by using elevate on the chair and can stand for a time. Of course I know this will change. Do you have the sling devise already under him when he is in the chair? I would think that there would not be a lot of room to manuever this under him after he is already in the chair.

I appreciate everyone's input,
My son uses a Hoyer" type lift at home so he has slings available. Invacare is another manufacturer. There is also a sling in the gift catalog from the Christopher and Dana Reeves foundation. The foundation is a wonderful resource.

I am glad your son is included in the discussions. So often people talk over the kids instaed of recognizing them as people.

Putting a sling on him is actually pretty easy. The physical therapist for your school district should be able to demonstrate how to do it. It is easy to pack one on his chair or store it with the evacuation device.


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