Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wheelchairs and Hotels

I'm not crazy, it can happen!
Kellisa stays in hotels at least 20 times a year. I always make reservations for a first floor room. That is by far my most important requirement. Two beds is next on the wish list followed by a disabled room. We only stay at non-smoking hotels, so that's never an issue. I can accept a one bed room and/or a non-disabled room. I will not accept a room on any floor except the first.
It's a safety issue. How do I get Kellisa out in an emergency? Yes, I can carry her down the stairs, but I would have to leave her chair behind. What if I had to carry her for blocks or even miles? Could I carry her down from the 23rd floor? I have no desire to test my superhuman abilities. What if I was injured and couldn't carry her?
We often check in late and several times a year we find the hotel has given our room on the first floor to someone else. I make them find a room in their hotel or in another hotel. I feel that strongly about needing a 1st floor room. I'll raise my voice and argue. The desk clerk never has an answer when I ask, "who will come up and get Kellisa if the elevators aren't working?" Although, last month I had a middle aged woman who was working the front desk offer to run up the stairs and help with Kellisa. I thanked her and asked two very important follow-up questions. I asked, "you can carry 80 pounds down 3 flights of stairs" and "what time do you get off of work and will you stay until we leave in the morning or give me the name of who will rescue Kellisa after you leave?" She just looked at me (like I was crazy), apologized for not having my room available and then she called a neighboring hotel to get us a room.
I just watched a program on TV about 9/11 and the Marriott Hotel (above picture) that was in between the twin towers. The program profiled a mother and her adult disabled daughter who is dependent on a motorized wheelchair. They were stuck on the 5th floor because the elevators stopped working after the first plane crashed. They would have died, but two hotel workers were evacuating and found them alone on the floor. Fortunately, the freight elevator still worked and they were led to that elevator. They were able to get out before the towers collapsed on top of the hotel.
I know 9/11 is an extreme example, but it proves that disasters can happen. It just validates my need to always have a 1st floor room when traveling with Kellisa. I'm also reminded of a time there was a false fire alarm in my hotel when traveling for work. I was on the 3rd floor and the elevators automatically stopped running. Another time in South Carolina, I had just checked in to a hotel with Kellisa when a severe thunderstorm rolled through and knocked out the power to the hotel. Kellisa and I were camping later in the trip, so I had headlamps and we were good in our dark 1st floor room. The following morning at breakfast in the lobby, I heard other  people complaining that the elevators stopped during the power outage. A minor inconvenience to most, but a major safety issue for anyone dependent on a wheelchair.

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