The Evac Chair – An Introduction

Provision for a safe means of escape from a building in the case of an emergency is essential, especially for people with mobility problems and doubly so, if your business is located in a high-rise building. Evac chairs provide the perfect solution for evacuating people who have difficulty using stairs and will experience difficulties if the lifts are shut off should an emergency situation arise.

Evac chairs are the ideal escape provision for such institutions as hospitals, schools, universities and other public buildings but also advisable in office tower blocks, tall hotels or multi-storey business complexes. Conventional stretchers are difficult to use in confined, narrow stairwells, and wheelchairs are hard to manoeuvre down the stairs. Evac chairs and evac sleds are the most appropriate and sensible provision to aid staff and visitors with mobility problems in exiting a dangerous building.

Features of an evac chair

A standard wheelchair construction is the traditional platform on which rescue chairs are built. To the basic wheelchair chassis designers have included an array of ingenious mechanisms for slowly and safely negotiating stairs. The chairs retain their wheels but often have additional sleds that support the rear axel and patient as they are wheeled downstairs.

Tough rubber tyres or in some designs tracks are incorporated that grip the steps firmly and prevent slipping as the chair descends. Gravity breaks are another essential feature; these enable the chairs to be deployed with only one person assisting, although some models do require two people to help.

Rescue chairs often have built in carry handles for negotiating tight corners or crossing fallen rubble and secure webbing straps give extra security to the person seated in the chair.

Modern materials mean that the current model of emergency chairs are light and durable, which is important for the person handling them, bulky and clumsy designs will inevitably lead to blocking off, of stairwells and compounding problems. The latest chairs are slim, lightweight and collapsible, which makes them easy to store and simple to deploy during valuable moments in an emergency.

As they have a shorter length it makes them better suited, than standard stretchers, for rescue use in narrow corridors and restrictive alleyways, such as you will find on ships. One city that makes extensive use of evac chairs is Venice in Italy, where its tight streets, bridges and maze of apartment blocks make them the ideal rescue system. The ambulance boats of the Italian city exclusively use evac chairs to transport their patients to the city’s hospital.