Stair chairs are very useful in evacuating or otherwise moving patients or other people unable to move on their own. In a typical use situation, a patient is loaded onto the stair chair (when the stair chair is in its fully-unfolded state), the stair chair is wheeled to the head or foot of a flight of stairs, and the stair chair is then carried by two or more persons down or up the flight of stairs. Once any stairs have been navigated, the stair chair is then wheeled further, either to additional stairs, to an ambulance, or to some other location where the patient is removed from the stair chair. Stair chairs are often used in emergency situations where elevator service has been interrupted, is unavailable, or is inadvisable.
People with reduced mobility (people who use a wheelchair, for example) may need help should the usual escape route be blocked or inaccessible to them. This scene from hit comedy series The Office, quite brilliantly shows us what happens when correct equipment is not at hand, but also highlights the importance of needing the correct equipment.
Subjects climbed stairs while wearing a weighted vest (Power Vest, All Pro Co., Jericho, NJ). An audible metronome was attached to the vest and set to correspond to a stepping pace consistent with the target training pace. During each exercise session, stair climbers ascended and descended 12 flights (126 steps) divided into three sets of four flights, with a 2-minute rest period between each set. Heart rate and perceived exertion were recorded twice during each set. On a weekly basis, habitual stair climbing speed was measured using similar methods to those described below, in which subjects were timed as they climbed a single flight of stairs (10 steps) at their self-determined comfortable pace. This speed served as the target training pace. Once a subject was capable of completing all three sets while maintaining the target pace, the weight of the vest was increased by 2% of the subject's body mass at the next training session. During the initial session of the 12-week training program, subjects wore only the vest with no added weight. If a subject consistently exceeded 16 on the Borg Scale or their heart rate exceeded 85% of the predicted maximal heart rate, training for that day was terminated and resistance was reduced by 1% the subsequent session. Successful completion of each week was defined by a subject's ability to complete three sets at the target pace without exceeding 16 on the Borg scale. Once acclimated to the training, sessions did not last longer than 10 minutes.