How do I secure wheelchairs that do not comply with WC19?
It is generally more challenging to secure wheelchairs that do not comply with WC19. The problem of finding adequate securement points on wheelchairs has become more difficult with a movement away from the standard welded tubular frame wheelchairs that usually provide two rear and two front securement points at the junctions of horizontal and vertical parts of the frame. Many heavy powered wheelchairs with plastic frame and motor covers (sometimes called “shrouds”) present special challenges. It is often impossible to find any suitable securement points, much less four such securement points, for attaching tiedown hooks and/or straps.
One approach to improving the ability to secure many non-WC19-compliant wheelchairs is to permanently attach looped straps at places on the wheelchair that are judged to have good strength, but that are not easily accessible or attached to with conventional tiedown strap assembly end fittings. For example, the strap loops can be attached to structural members of power-based wheelchairs that are under the plastic housings, and the loops can be routed through in plastic housings so that they are easily reached when the wheelchair is in a motor vehicle. Although the strength of a wheelchair and its attachment points is still in question if the wheelchair has not been crash tested, the use of these straps will usually offer easier and more effective wheelchair securement than what could be achieved without the straps. Most manufacturers of WTORS sell these add-on strap loops, including Safe Haven by New Haven Moving Equipment, Q’Straint, and Sure-Lok. (See the Ride Safe Brochure for phone numbers and websites of above manufacturers, as well as others).
In searching for the best solution to effectively securing non-WC19-compliant wheelchairs, it is recommended that a “team approach” be used, similar to that adopted by the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This approach has been successfully used in dealing with difficult wheelchair situations. Their approach, and some specific guidelines on dealing with different types of wheelchairs during transportation of students with disabilities, are described in a 1995 document entitled School Bus Transportation of Students in Wheelchairs: A manual of Procedures and Practices Used by the WISD for Providing Effective Wheelchair Securement and Occupant Restraint. This can be purchased from WISD at P.O. Box 1406 Ann Arbor Michigan.