Updated: Feb 17
How do we prepare our most vulnerable people for an emergency and how can we better empower them to Live a better life?
Locatrix CEO John Hummelstad recently recounted a story, told by a prospective client seeking a better emergency training solution. There had been a fire in their workplace and the staff had all evacuated perfectly in accordance to their training only they made a critical error. A hearing-impaired employee who was busy in the photocopying room where no strobe lighting was installed had been left behind. She walked out of the photocopying room only to find smoke and firemen. She was lucky she wasn’t a fatality.
Like every disaster we look back and say “how could we have done better”. A post incident review showed this person had not been identified as a PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) and the PEEP had not been identified in the emergency management plan as it had not been maintained correctly. Because of this, no warden had been informed or prepared to manage this PEEP. More critically, she had not been trained either. Now you may be asking “how do you train a hearing impaired person?”. Our software PlanSafe includes Auslan signage videos to translate procedural instructions for cases such as these.
AS3745-210 section 4.2.11 specifically talks about the need to address occupants and visitors to a building with a disability and the need to provision assistance to be able to act optimally in an emergency. Defined examples include blind, hearing impaired, and ambulatory disability, easily fatigued, suffering acute anxiety or confusion in an emergency and alcohol impaired. You would agree that by definition, these descriptions are pretty broad aren’t they? Each of these types of disabilities need to be risk assessed for the facility you are preparing your emergency plan for and to not do this will be seen as neglect of the building owner.
The Australian standard goes on to discuss a “PEEP” (Personal emergency evacuation plan) which needs to be developed by a competent person (Warden) and ensured that there is a comprehensive list kept of all peeps in the building and the drill procedures for running an emergency with PEEPS considered.
For sight impaired people a PEEP form is necessary because training a sight impaired person in egress through uncommon means (for example fire stairs) could well inhibit others and if there is an assistance animal involved, may compromise the evacuation for all occupants. At Locatrix, we do not recommend a PEEP occupant to be a part of the Emergency Control Organisation.
In addition to training, our software is working towards assisting sight impaired people in various other ways. A very interesting use case of PlanStudio is our partnership with Briometrix. Briometrix work in the disability sector and have partnered with Locatrix to use PlanStudio to mark-up accessibility pathways. By showing the gradient of ramps, steps and marking-up any barriers that someone in a wheelchair or using a walking aid enables better planning before setting out on their route. We often take for granted that we, as able-bodied people who set out for the day, can usually manage our way through any obstacle but others are not so fortunate. They usually stick to a set path which they know and can rely on, limiting their scope for adventure. Now with PlanStudio’s capability of marking up and displaying options for this community, they are enabled to venture further and it is so exciting to see the benefits an invention like PlanStudio is able to deliver.
Natalie Verdon, Director of Briometrix’s Sydney office trained herself and her staff on PlanStudio by way of the PlanStudio academy and said: “As a trainer for over a decade, I found the online training was informative and delivered at the right pace, ensuring people will be competent to commence their projects with Locatrix software. The learning modules were structured appropriately to allow easy revisits to refresh new skills. In my role as Project Manager, the online course has provided me the right knowledge and insight to guide and discuss projects with my colleagues. Our team is a mix of tech and non tech people, and all were confident and keen to utilise the software features and work with the Locatrix team to explore ways to add value to our projects.”