A SUPERMARKET has apologised to an Aberystwyth woman who was left ‘stuck’ inside a store when a fire alarm went off.
Wheelchair user, Jacqui Adams, was shopping in the Tesco superstore in Aberystwyth on Wednesday, 19 April, when the fire alarm went off.
She says what happened next turned a normal day’s shopping into a ‘shocking’ and ‘scary’ situation.
Mrs Adams is wheelchair bound, she usually takes the lift up to the store, but as part of fire evacuation procedures, the lifts were stopped, leaving her stuck in the superstore.
Although the store has a moving walkway travelator, wheelchair users are not allowed to use them because they are too steep.
She said: “I went shopping, I’d just got through the till when the fire alarm went off. I thought I’d automatically be going through the door, downstairs and outside. I have to use the lift to get to the ground floor because I’m in a wheelchair, but with the fire alarm going off, I wasn’t allowed to use the lift.
“I had to go through the canteen and out the door there, but I couldn’t do that either because there were stairs. The staff then told me there was another exit, which I tried to go down, but there were stairs there again.
“There were three of us stuck on top of a stairwell while everyone else was outside, including the staff. There was myself, a gentleman in a wheelchair, and a lady on a mobility scooter. Only one member of staff stayed with us. We were stuck there for 25 minutes.
The experience has left a scar on Mrs Adams, who says she is afraid to go back there because she’s worried the same situation could happen again.
“I was scared, I was in a situation I couldn’t deal with and I’m not very good with that. It’s like nobody seemed to care, they just wanted everything to go back to normal.
“I felt absolutely useless and anxious, I was worried because I suffer from panic attacks. I was trying to keep myself calm but it was hard. I literally felt like they didn’t care. No managers came to see us, we were just stuck there.
Mrs Adams called it a situation ‘that never should have happened.’ Although the building was constructed within the last 10 years, opening in 2016. The store did not have any fire exits accessible to disabled people.
Mrs Adams said: “They’ve got no disability exits for something like that, the situation shouldn’t have happened. I’m shocked, I thought they would have had disability access. It’s a new building, so I thought they would have had that access.
“When the fire alarm turned off they let everybody back in, nobody said sorry they just said ‘you can come back in now’ and everyone was left to do what they were doing before the fire alarm.
“When I go to Tesco, I want to know I’m going to get satisfaction, I don’t want to worry about what’s going to happen next.
"The least they can do is put in a mobility access ramp, in case the situation happens again. I feel like they have let me down, all I want is assurance, and safety.”
A spokesperson for Tesco said: “We are sorry the customer was unhappy with her experience. The store was evacuated in line with our fire safety plan, but we have since reviewed our procedures and are putting additional measures in place to aid the evacuation of disabled customers.”