We have an ageing population, greater levels of obesity and a growing awareness of the challenges of people with disabilities. This has the potential to increase the number of vulnerable people in health and aged care buildings who need to protected, moved or evacuated in the event of a fire or other emergencies.
In the context of this article, a vulnerable person is considered to be someone who is incapable of moving away from a fire or smoke or evacuating without some form of assistance from others. This vulnerability may be due to age (e.g. the very young or very old), a temporary disability (e.g. patients in ICU or in a surgery or recovery ward in a hospital) or due to a permanent disability of either a physical or cognitive nature. Hospitals and aged care facilities are two forms of building that have a significant proportion of such persons, although vulnerable persons may be present in other residential buildings or work places.