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September 2013 - Lake Success, NY

As the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers approaches, Evac+Chair® North America, LLC is reminding facility managers and high-rise building owners of the importance of evacuation plans as well as providing a means to evacuate all occupants safely, without relying on the crucial efforts of first responders.

"The Evac+Chair's® unique construction makes it easy for an employee to assist a disabled co-worker," said Rich Perl, vice president of Evac+Chair® North America, the company that originated the stairway evacuation chair. "More than six occupants were rescued to safety from the Towers on September 11 as the first responders were making their way up the stairs," he said.

Perl said that the narrow profile and light weight of the Evac+Chair® means that its use as an evacuation chair does not interfere with the ascent or descent of first responders sharing the stairway. The chair is engineered to convey smoothly using a patented continuous rotating V belt that ensures safety and allows the user to control the chair's descent down the stairs with relative ease, regardless of the passenger's size.

The Port Authority of N.Y./N.J. had purchased 125 Evac+Chairs® emergency stair chairs for the Twin Towers after the first bombing in 1993. When the Towers were hit on September 11, some disabled workers remembered the chairs and were aided by fellow employees from several floors, including one gentleman, John Abruzzo, who wrote a letter of thanks to Evac+Chair® and whose rescue story was subsequently featured in two issues that fall in New Mobility Magazine. The survivors and their rescuers reported that they were able to make their way down the stairs as firefighters came up without interference.

The Evac+Chair® was developed in New York City in 1982 and is the worldwide industry standard in lightweight, portable evacuation chairs. Today the company sells internationally to hotels, hospitals, office buildings, schools, assisted living facilities, and residential and commercial high-rise buildings, any multi-story building where any tenant or occupant who needs help for any reason can get down the stairs to safety. Its patented design allows most able-bodied users to assist anyone with mobility impairments or other conditions in need of help in an emergency.

"It doesn't take the disaster level of the Twin Towers attack to keep in mind the importance of getting all occupants out of a multi-story building safely," said Perl. "Anyone who needs assistance down the stairs for any reason, in any building, and in any situation that requires evacuation, can be helped to safety with the Evac+Chair®."


A specialty evacuation chair that helped rescue victims of the September 11 attacks