MSM Emergency Response Plan

Emergency Procedures for Individuals with Disabilities

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Below, the School offers procedures and recommendations for alerting, evacuating, or sheltering persons with disabilities located in the Manhattan School of Music buildings and on campus during an emergency. Every member of the School community has a responsibility to facilitate the safe evacuation and sheltering of persons with disabilities by adhering to the following guidelines.

The School recognizes that individuals with disabilities may require assistance with alerting, evacuating, and sheltering in the event of an emergency. The School therefore asks all individuals who may need assistance in an emergency to consider all or some of the following options for preparing for an emergency:

  • Self-identify themselves to the School by completing and submitting a Confidential Self-Identification Form.
  • Cooperate in developing a Personal Emergency Plan
  • Identify “buddies” to serve as rescue assistants during emergencies
  • Plan to communicate with Campus Safety when frequenting School buildings during off-hours
  • Provide electronic contact information to the School to facilitate notifications during an emergency

Confidential Self-Identification Form

Self-Identifying Through Use of the Form

  • Twice a year (at the beginning of the academic year and six months later), the School will ask all faculty, students, and staff if they will require assistance during an emergency. Self-identification is entirely voluntary, and medical information will be maintained as confidential.
  • To self-identify, an individual is asked to prepare and submit a Confidential Self-Identification Form.
  • The purpose of the Form is to gather information to assist in alerting, evacuating, or sheltering individuals in case of an emergency. To complete the online form, go to Confidential Self-Identification Form. Please contact the Dean of Students or the Vice President for Administration and Human Relations for more information.

Providing and Updating Electronic Contact Information

  • In addition, we strongly encourage all faculty, students, and employees to register electronic contact information with the Emergency Text Service, the School’s electronic emergency-notification system. To do so, go to the student website at and select My Info from the College Students menu; once you log in, you will see the link for the service. This enables School officials to reach members of the campus community by rapidly transmitting short notifications by e-mail, text, fax, or voice message. Students will be asked to enter or update their emergency notification information at the time of registration each semester; employees will be asked to enter or update such information when they begin work and twice yearly thereafter.
  • Electronic notification can be particularly critical to individuals with disabilities, and all such members of our community are urged to supply electronic contact information. Individuals who require a non-auditory “Alert” may benefit from electronic notification because standard auditory fire alarms and P.A. systems are not always accessible to those individuals during an emergency. In addition, individuals with hearing impairments residing in campus housing are also urged to self-identify for the purpose of securing visual alarms to alert the individual in the event of an emergency.

Notifying Campus Safety or Building Coordinators of Location

Any person with disabilities who will need assistance during an emergency evacuation and might be in a building after regular work hours, or at times when others are not usually present, should also strongly consider notifying Campus Safety of his or her location, including the building, floor, room, and time of arrival and departure.

Developing and Distributing Personal Emergency Plans

  • Students or employees who file a Self-Identification Form will then work with School officials to develop a Personal Emergency Plan that includes the following information:
    • Identifies the safest area located on each floor within the building to which a person with disabilities can be moved or directed to await assistance from emergency response personnel; and
    • Designates a means to inform emergency response personnel (e.g., police, fire) of the locations of any person(s) requiring assistance.
  • The Office of Human Resources or Residence Life will communicate about Personal Emergency Plans with staff and employees, including Campus Safety, Resident Assistants, and other personnel who may need to know about a particular Plan. The Facilities and Safety Office will also work with the Precollege Program Emergency Coordinator to ensure that Campus Safety and other personnel have information about Precollege students who have Personal Emergency Plans.
  • The School will also place a copy of all Personal Emergency Plans in the Fire Department Information Centers for each building that the individual is reasonably expected to routinely occupy (e.g., classroom, dormitory, library).

Communicating to Neighbors

  • In addition to submitting a Confidential Self-Identification Form, any employee or student needing assistance may also voluntarily provide information to anyone within the School community about his or her need for assistance during an emergency.
  • Such notification is not intended to be a substitute for self-identification via a Form but can be a useful additional protection. Supervisors may also ask an employee who has self-identified as disabled if he or she will require assistance in the event of an emergency.

Identifying Rescue Assistants (“Buddies”)

  • The School also encourages individuals needing assistance to identify at least one rescue assistant capable of offering assistance in evacuation or other safety procedures during an emergency. A rescue assistant should be someone who is likely to be in a building during the same timeframe as the individual, but not necessarily in the same area.
  • A rescue assistant can be a co-worker or student. It is recommended that, in either case, the rescue assistant be a friend. Human Resources or the Student Life office will be available to assist individuals in identifying rescue assistants.
  • An individual developing a personal emergency plan need not identify a rescue assistant, but it is strongly recommended.

During an Emergency

  • Individuals with communication disabilities may be unable to obtain necessary evacuation information from standard auditory fire alarms or public address systems. As a consequence, hearing and visually impaired individuals may need to be alerted and given further instruction in emergency situations by rescue assistants or others within the campus community. Nearby rescue assistants, faculty, staff, or students should also offer assistance to visually impaired individuals who may need help negotiating unfamiliar routes during an emergency evacuation.
  • All members of the campus community are expected to assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining necessary emergency information and either evacuating safely, moving to an Area of Rescue Assistance, or following other instructions for emergency response.
  • During an emergency, the New York City Police and Fire Department, as well as Campus Safety, will attempt to check all locations, including restrooms, to communicate the need to evacuate. If forced to stay in place during an emergency, the person with a disability should contact Campus Safety at 917-493-4444 or 911, in order to notify them of his or her location, in addition to asking others who are evacuating to alert the Campus Safety and NYPD.
    • Campus Safety or the NYPD will then dispatch an officer to the location to assist with the evacuation.
    • Please stay on the line with the dispatcher or in texting/e-mail communication until first responders arrive.
  • Individuals with disabilities may want to acquire additional alerting devices to draw attention to themselves during an emergency. Cell phones, pagers, and loud whistles are effective tools for drawing attention or for contacting emergency personnel.

Evacuation Procedures

  • Personal evacuation plans shall serve as the first line of defense to ensure the safety of individuals with disabilities. The following provides further guidance for emergency procedures for persons with disabilities. However, this information is not meant to replace the proper planning and training included in a personal emergency plan.
  • School procedures require all persons, including those with disabilities, to evacuate a facility anytime the fire alarm system is activated or otherwise instructed to do so. Depending upon the facility and type of disability, a person with disabilities may have the following evacuation options:
    • Horizontal evacuation (e.g., going from one building into a connected, adjacent building on the same level);
    • Vertical evacuation (e.g., stairway);
    • Proceeding to a designated Area of Rescue Assistance to await evacuation; or
    • Staying in place to await evacuation (e.g., office, classroom).

REMEMBER: elevators are never to be used in the event of a fire without explicit authorization by fire or police personnel.

  • Furthermore, stairway evacuations of individuals who use wheelchairs may be hazardous to disabled individuals, rescuers, and others attempting to evacuate – and should not be attempted by untrained personnel.
  • Individuals with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently or with assistance may be able to negotiate stairs. However, if danger is imminent, the individual should wait until heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs or await rescue in an Area of Rescue Assistance.

Moving to an Area of Rescue Assistance

  • Individuals with mobility impairments may not be able to exit a building without help from fire, police, or other emergency personnel. Individuals who are unable to evacuate should await evacuation assistance in designated Areas of Rescue Assistance – or, depending upon the circumstance, areas that provide protection during situations requiring Lockdown or Sheltering-in-Place.
  • Individuals who have self-identified shall be notified of any Areas of Rescue Assistance in buildings they may occupy or frequent, and they should acquaint themselves with the locations of these areas in other campus buildings.
  • A Master List of Areas of Rescue Assistance shall be located in the Fire Department Information Center in the lobby of each building and is available on the Emergency Response Website. These areas are also identified by appropriate signage. This information shall be updated as appropriate.

Sheltering-in-Place and Awaiting Rescue:

  • In circumstances where evacuation is not possible or desirable, or where relocation to an Area of Rescue Assistance is not practical (e.g., pathway impeded), it is recommended that a person with a disability stay in place (e.g., office, dormitory room).
  • It is the responsibility of every member of the School community to immediately communicate to Campus Safety and emergency personnel the location of individuals unable to evacuate. In addition, the person with disabilities should be reminded to telephone Campus Safety and 911 immediately, as soon as is safe, to further ensure that on-site emergency personnel will receive the information as soon as possible.

Further Guidance for Individuals with Disabilities

Roles of the New York City Fire Department, NYPD, and Campus Safety

  • The New York City Fire Department and New York City Police, as well as Campus Safety, are the first-responders to all campus emergencies, including those requiring evacuation. They shall enter a building during an emergency in order to facilitate the safe evacuation of all occupants. If possible, they will conduct a floor-by-floor search in order to locate those individuals who are unable to exit the building safely, including a search of all Areas of Rescue Assistance.
  • Campus Safety will serve as the primary School point of contact for individuals with disabilities and also for communicating with City first responders.
  • Rescue assistants and individuals with disabilities should contact Campus Safety to report on the evacuation status and location of any individual with a disability – to ensure this information is relayed to City emergency personnel.


  • All School employees participate in drills and attend Fire Safety and Evacuation training annually. Students shall receive fire safety and evacuation information during orientation. Students living in College housing shall also participate in fire drills.
  • The School will train campus security, rescue assistants, supervisors, and facility managers in identifying and assisting persons who may need assistance in an emergency and the location of designated safe areas. Individuals with disabilities are also encouraged to participate in these training sessions and communicate directly with Campus Safety, Residence Life, or Student Engagement about training and drills.
  • Practicing emergency procedures help develop confidence in your ability to cope in an emergency – while helping to ensure that others offer appropriate lifesaving assistance during a real emergency. Practice may consists of walk-through procedures, announced drills, or unannounced drills.

Confidentiality Statement

  • The School maintains all medical information as confidential. However, first responders, Campus Safety personnel, and other School representatives may be informed if an individual with a disability might require help with alerting, evacuating, or sheltering during an emergency. The information shared with such personnel shall be limited to information necessary to help alert, evacuate, or shelter the disabled individual during an emergency.
  • The Confidential Self-Identification Form form includes a section releasing School officials to communicate necessary medical information to each other, as well as to first responders, on a need-to know basis. The School individuals needing to know will include without limitation the Emergency Management Team, Campus Safety, Residence Life, Resident Assistants, Building Coordinators, medical personnel, and resident assistants.

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