Friday, 16 November 2012

Going down...

You all know that if there is a fire, you cannot use the lifts. That’s OK, just use the stairs. But what about me? There are evacuation points where wheelchairs can congregate, normally at the top of the stairway. At Brunel, they are designed to keep out flames for 30 minutes and are linked up to security via intercom so I know what is happening. Most of the time, it’s a false alarm (normally in the early hours) and my bedroom is ground floor. However, if I am ever upstairs and need to get out, a contraption called a Staircrawler will be used.

I’d been told about it before but I didn’t know what to expect on Tuesday. It looked like a really basic trailer with a ramp that I had to reverse on. This was actually quite difficult because, as friends will testify, my driving is poor. When I managed to navigate the chair into place, I was strapped on with a massive seatbelt. Then the machine tips back like a dentist chair. I was a tad nervous because it’s not normal for wheelchairs to go down steps and it looked dangerous. YES. A man who has skydived was scared of a flight of stairs. Sounds ridiculous.

It was. The Staircrawler had specially designed grooves to lock onto the stairs so I was perfectly safe. Not as if they were using me as a test dummy. It was fun in a weird way but hopefully I don’t have to use it in future.

Saying that, I think more places should have them if there are stairs and for some reason, they can’t build a lift. It’s probably expensive though, like most things to do with disability.

Bye for now!

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