St. Louis County uses new identification system for faster emergency responses to schools
More than half of the fire and police districts within St. Louis County have adopted or are in the process of adopting a new system of school building identification that will help minimize the time it takes for first responders to navigate the inside of a school.
The new system of color-coded numbers and arrows could make emergency responses much faster without the use of maps, said county councilman Mark Harder.
“When first responders go into these buildings, especially under stressful situations, seconds matter when it comes to our children’s safety,” he said.
Highcroft Ridge Elementary in Parkway School District is the first school to implement this project. The identification system divides Highcroft Ridge’s hallways into red, green, blue, yellow, purple and orange zones.
Each classroom door has an assigned number and color depending on the hallway where the room is located. Signs with arrows throughout the school point in the direction of the zone.
The numbered signs on the classrooms face the hallways and are large enough for a first responder to see all the way down the corridor. Doors and windows outside are also color coded and numbered.
This system complies with fire codes to provide simplified directions for first responders entering a school during an emergency situation, said Paul Tandy, Parkway School District chief communications and emergency management officer.
“When we're explaining where something is, we're not going to say oh, they're in the senior wing, because nobody knows, except for the people in the school, what that means,” Tandy said. “Now, it'll be the red way or the blue wing.”
County Police Chief Kenneth Gregory said there have been issues in the past figuring out the best door to use.
“We had a situation in St. Louis city. One of the issues that officers had was having a hard time finding which door to get into. The numbering system here will help us with that,” he said.
Teachers are surprised by how large the numbered signs along the hallways are. Tandy said teachers thought the signs made the school look a bit like a hospital but found the new system makes the building easier to navigate for teachers, students, parents and first responders.
“Teachers are happy that the colors add to the school feeling like a warm and happy place to learn. Some teachers said their students even know the number of their classrooms now,” he said.