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Subway emergency preparedness in Shanghai: A focused group and interview study exploring the perceived experiences of senior citizens and the disabled

Benjamin Ohene Kwapong Baffoe, MEng, Zheng Shiyuan, PhD


As Shanghai's population increases and currently being boosted by an influx of foreigners, there has been pressure on the subway system and this has led to a great concern for the aged and disabled people (including foreigners) who use the subway during emergency situations. The present study uses an exploratory research approach including a focus group discussion (FGD) and interviews to uncover the experiences, safety concerns, and challenges that the aged and disabled faces when using the subway. A total of 38 participants were involved in the study, which comprises of three FGDs and interviews conducted in the city of Shanghai. The findings reveal that most aged and disabled subway riders have little or no knowledge about emergency safety measures or safety symbols, the administering of first aid and have language barrier concerns. This study recommends that policy makers and subway operators should get the aged and disabled people involved in developing more educational programs that will help them to better the concept of safety prevention measures and it also suggests holding more emergency drills involving the aged and disabled. Braille language symbols, sign languages on TV screens, specially designed subway maps, low-frequency alarms with flashing lights, and information printed in multiple international languages should also be provided to help foreigners understand the instructions and information in the subways. Additionally, these measures could help all commuters to feel safer when using the subway.


aged, disable people, emergency, evacuation, Subway

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