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Southern Ute Community Action Programs (SUCAP)
Section 3 – Wheel Chairs and Lifts
- Wheelchair basics
- Always treat the wheelchair as if it had no brakes. This means that as a passenger attempts to stand, sit or transfer, the wheelchair should be prevented from moving or tipping. Although the brakes may be locked, they get out of adjustment easily and may allow the wheels to move. If you are not physically assisting the passenger, maintain a firm grip on the pushing handles at the rear of the chair. If the passenger is transferring to a regular seat place a foot along side the large wheel on the side away from the seat. There is a tendency to thrust against the chair for leverage which may cause the chair to slip sideways, causing the passenger to fall to the floor.
- You should place yourself on the downhill side of the chair when going up and down curbs, steps and ramps. This will be particularly true of ramps commonly used on the van-type vehicle. These ramps tend to be steep. By taking the chair down backward and remaining on the downhill side you are able to maintain better control of the chair and minimize risk of losing control of it. Ramp surfaces may tend to become slippery when wet, which will further reduce the traction (friction) between the ramp surface and wheelchair tire. The surface will also be slippery under foot. Never attempt to load or unload a chair without the side rails being in the up position. These rails, in addition to preventing the chair from rolling off, also make the ramp stiffer and easier to roll a chair.
- The arms of the wheelchair may be removable, do not attempt to lift the chair by the arms. The chair is likely to spin if you attempt to pick it up by the large wheels.
- Wheel chair lifts are only for wheelchairs and scooters. We will not load strollers on the lift.
- Moving a Wheelchair Up a Curb or Single Step
- Taking a wheelchair up a curb or single step is relatively easy, but does require some strength since it involves lifting and pushing part of the weight of the passenger and wheelchair.
- Most wheelchairs are equipped with tubular projections at the rear base of the wheelchair frame. Place your foot on either projection and push down while at the same time you firmly grasp each handle, pulling backward and downward. This will cause the chair to tilt on the axle with the front wheels coming up off the ground. The chair should be tilted sufficiently for the front wheels to clear the upper edge of the curb or step.
- When the front wheels are clear of the curb, move the chair forward until the large wheels are snug against the curb. Lower the tilt angle until the front wheels touch the ground.
- CAUTION: be sure both large wheels are in contact with the curb. With both feet securely planted on the ground, lift upward on the push-grips and at the same time push forward to move the wheelchair up and over the curb.
- Moving a Wheelchair Down a Curb or Single Step
- Taking a wheelchair down a curb or step backward is essentially the reverse of taking it up, with one exception—the chair need not be tilted first.
- The wheelchair is placed facing directly away from the curb.
- CAUTION: Be sure that the chair is at right angle to the curb or step so that both large wheels will be in secure contact with the edge of the curb. There is a great possibility of tipping a wheelchair over if this precaution is not carefully observed.
- Lift operating procedures
- Wheelchair lifts make it possible to load wheelchairs of all weights in an efficient and safe manner. However, lifts are potentially hazardous equipment. They must be maintained and operated properly. Considerable caution and awareness is needed when operating a lift. No one but the vehicle operator should operate the vehicle wheelchair lift. Every vehicle operator will be familiar with all lifts likely to be used.
- Drivers will cycle the lift during their pre trip inspections.
- Upon arriving at your destination, stop on level ground, put the vehicle transmission in “park” and secure the emergency brake and start your four-way flashers. Make sure there is room for the lift platform to open without hitting obstacles. There also must be room to maneuver the wheelchair onto the lift.
- Open the lift doors from outside the vehicle and secure doors in the open position. Do not remain in the vehicle while raising or lowering the lift platform. Always operate the lift from the ground.
- Greet your passengers. Talk to them, not around them. Ask your passenger if they would like assistance in getting onto the platform. The passenger may ride on the lift facing the vehicle or facing out. Remember, under the ADA it is their choice.
- Set the brakes on the wheelchair and tell the passenger you are going to raise the lift.
- Stand on the ground with one hand on the wheelchair and one hand operating the controls; raise the platform only a couple of inches. Check the front safety barrier to be certain it is locked. Only after you are certain the barrier is locked, continue raising the lift platform to vehicle floor level. Put the lift controls in a secure location with one hand while holding the wheelchair with the other.
- Release the wheelchair locks and push the wheelchair into the vehicle. Reach in and lock the wheels. Never leave a wheelchair sitting on the lift platform unattended. When loading, push it into your vehicle, when unloading, pull it out.
- Secure the wheelchair in the vehicle with tie-downs. The wheelchair will be secured at four points. The lap and shoulder belts are an option. However, all drivers should encourage the passenger to use them.