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KFA receives emergency chairs

November 5, 2009

Two emergency evacuation chairs were installed in Kleinpell Fine Arts earlier this semester as part of a broader effort to continually improve campus safety, UW-River Falls Risk Management Officer Connie Smith said.

The chairs are designed to help individuals with mobility difficulties get down stairs and out of buildings quicker in an emergency.

They were purchased in June from Stryker EMS Equipment at a total cost of $5,000 for the pair, Smith said. The money came out of Risk Management’s annual budget.

One chair has been placed in each of the stairwells on top floor of KFA. The stairwells are located at both ends of the floor.

“The evacuation chairs were an initiative that came from the Safety committee,” Smith said. “We were encouraged to look at them by our community
responders.”

The River Falls Fire Department has the same type of chair, she said, but it is easier to use those that are already in place.
Ben Fraser, chair of the UWRF Safety committee, said River Falls EMS and Fire were both notified as to the locations of the chairs, because in the event of an emergency, “they will most likely be the ones using them.”

Once the chair is deployed and the individual needing assistance is properly seated, it is designed to be rolled down the stairs with the aid of two other people, one behind and one at the foot end of the chair, according to Stryker’s Web site.  The chair can be operated safely by one individual, providing the occupant weighs less than 200 pounds.  The chair alone weighs 35 pounds and is rated to a 500 pound maximum.

Though it is not a requirement to use the chairs, custodial and maintenance staff will receive training in how to properly operate them in the event that responders are not available during an emergency, Fraser said.

“If there’s an emergency, you could figure out how to use them pretty easily,” he said.

KFA was chosen to receive the chairs because it was determined to be the building with the biggest need, Smith said.

Though KFA is currently the only building on campus with the evacuation chairs, there are plans to put units in other buildings.

“With the finances, we’d like to have them in all the buildings,” Fraser said. “I could see the dorms being a place to have them.  We’re hoping the students respect them.”

Along with purchasing the evacuation chairs, Fraser said Smith initiated a campus-wide safety inspection this fall.

“We’ve been doing facility walk throughs to every building,” he said. “A lot of the things we find are easy fixes, but it really helps us keep campus safer.”