Medical treatment facilities, hospitals, nursing homes and long term care facilities all need to have emergency evacuation plans in place. Since these particular health care settings need to be able to move non-ambulatory patients quickly and efficiently it is important that they have emergency evacuation chairs on hand. Typically most patients will be able to be moved using wheelchairs or hospital beds, but there are some patients that will need to be transported down stairs, in crowded elevators or moved immediately to other facilities for ongoing care.
For these individuals emergency evacuation chairs, also known as rescue chairs, provide a very important part of the evacuation plan. The chairs are designed to allow easy movement of patients in an upright seated position and, with their special design, are much easier to maneuver and lift than a standard wheelchair. In order to provide this lightweight quality these chairs are constructed with an aluminum frame. Aluminum is both lightweight but also very strong, with these chairs rated to safely transport adult patients up to 350 pounds. The frame is not designed like a standard wheelchair; rather it is more like a tubular frame that includes the back, seat and legs. Some chairs offer optional fold up patient armrests for increased patient comfort and security.
The typical size of evacuation chairs varies slightly depending on the specifications of the manufacturer. Typically the chairs will be approximately 40 inches in height with a width of just over 21 inches. When closed they will have a depth of just slightly over 11 inches, making them easy to store in supply rooms or patient care areas. With a weight of approximately 30 pounds or less these chairs can easily be moved by a single person without all the bulk and weight of a standard wheelchair.
Since evacuation chairs are used to transport patients in all areas of the building or the facility and even to and from vehicles, having a variety of different movement positions and options is important. Look for chairs that have standard handles on the backrest, but also for those chairs that offer movable lifting handles on the backrest. This allows staff to adjust the handles to allow for lifts up and down stairs easily and with minimal stress on the staff. Extending handles on the front the chair also provide the options to easily transport the patient in the upright position and, with the option to position the handles farther or closer to the chair the staff can adjust the position for their comfort.
Top of the line emergency evacuation chairs will have the appropriate and safe options for securing the chair in an emergency transport vehicle built right into the chair. The chairs can be secured into the van, ambulance or emergency vehicle and will allow multiple patients to be transported at the same time. This is much more efficient than moving patients in wheelchairs or on stretchers which take up more room and are much less secure and safe for the patient while in the vehicle.