Have you ever been upstairs in a building during a power failure or emergency evacuation, and been unable to get yourself out of the building?
Here is some reassuring news for employees and visitors to the Reserve Bank flagship Head Office in Pretoria. The Bank has equipped the building with 45 evac-chairs.
The evac-chair is an emergency stairway evacuation chair, enabling just one able-bodied person to push his or her patient safely down the fire-escape stairs with ease. Power failures and fires in buildings are a common reality, and if any staff or visitors with injuries or other disabilities happen to be upstairs in a building at the time of such an emergency, the problem of evacuation can be very serious indeed.
Remember that the use of lifts is prohibited during emergencies, and the only safe way out of the building is the fire-escape stairs. Unfortunately, these stairways are often blocked, while well-meaning colleagues try to carry their friends or visitors down the stairs, and everybody else is trapped behind them.
Now, with the evac-chair, nobody is held up while trying to evacuate. Trained staff will be able to transfer mobility-impaired evacuees into the evac-chair and travel down the fire-escape stairs at normal walking pace.
Wentzel van Rooyen, Emergency Management Officer for the Bank, highlighted the benefits of the evac-chair: “This equipment is an essential element within the Bank’s approach towards Health and Safety, and forms an integral part of the Emergency Evacuation Plan, as well as indicating the Bank’s commitment to people with disabilities. This acquisition contributes to ensuring compliance with the Labour laws, which require a safe working environment for all. More particularly, special measures are required to be in place to ensure the speedy and safe evacuation of people with disabilities. The evac-chair is the ideal equipment to ensure compliance”.
Almost all government departments in South Africa have already started equipping their multi-storey buildings with evac-chairs. It is government’s target to employ at least 5% of staff from the population of people with disabilities, and of course need to provide safe means of evacuation for those working in or visiting upstairs environments.
Edwards and Buckley Systems are the exclusive manufacturers of the evac-chair for the Southern Hemisphere and the whole of Africa. The company is based near Johannesburg, and also has a wide network of agents and distributors, including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina. The highest quality standards are maintained in all operations and the company is certified with the ISO 9001 standard for their excellent Quality Management Systems.