Student in wheel chair left alone during fire drill: 'I was very angry'

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A Boise State student who is in a wheelchair would like to see changes to how the school deals with disabled students. This comes after she says she was left in an evacuation area during a fire drill.

On Oct. 7, Melissa Jacobson was studying in the BSU library when the fire alarm went off. She claims a librarian directed her to wait in the area for evacuation assistance near the stairs and someone would assist her.

After waiting she said another library employee came by and saw her sitting there and went to get help. Jacobson claims later a security guard came by and said it was just a drill.

Jacobson said no one told her that during a drill they don't actually evacuate people who need assistance. After a librarian found her in the same spot after it was over, she says she became even more upset with their response.

"They were like: 'it's just a drill,' and by that point I was very angry because instead of being sincerely apologetic they were defensive," Jacobson said.

The university confirms that during a fire drill they don't actually evacuate people in the evacuation assistance area. BSU says if it was a real fire they would wait for Boise firefighters to come and assist the person.

Director of Environmental Health and Safety at BSU, Barbara Beagles, said they were aware of the situation.

Beagles claims her staff member did tell Jacobson she wouldn't be evacuated and could go back to what she was doing once the alarm stopped.

Jacobson disputes that, saying she wasn't told about that until after the drill was over.

Beagles said there did appear to be some miscommunication, but notes the library has taken steps to fix it.

"The dean of the library did get get with all of the staff members who respond to evacuations," said Beagles, "To insure that the communication's concise, appropriate and consistent."

Once the Truth Squad began making calls on this story, Jacobson said she was contacted by a disability specialist at BSU. She plans to meet with her on Friday, and voice her concerns on the issue.