ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There are a number of reasons to bolster school safety in modern times. A new school identification effort is underway to increase safety when seconds count.
“Whenever there is ever a situation when the police have to respond for a situation, say an active shooter, or the fire department has to respond for a medical condition,” said St. Louis County Police Chief Kenneth Gregory. “It’s going to help us get to that location quicker.”
At Highcroft Ridge Elementary School, a series of numbers are starting to show up inside and out of the school building on the windows and above doorways.
“It’s a color-coding system, so it makes sense,” said Paul Tandy, the Parkway School District’s chief communications and emergency management officer. “It’s simple. It’s basically large signage on both the exterior and interior of all the classrooms and on the exterior of the building. So, all the exterior classroom windows are also color coded with the same numbering system, as well as the exterior doors of the building.”
First responders from multiple districts will know immediately what direction and where to go, with a roadmap to get them there. More school districts are expected to adapt the new coding system, which originated in Franklin County.
“My daughter happens to be a school teacher out there, and I was out there helping her do a project, and I recognized the markings on the wall and said, ‘What is this with the stripes on the walls and the numbers on the windows,’” said Assistant Chief Les Crews, Monarch Fire Protection District. “She explained to me and it only made sense, and I said, ‘We need to bring that idea into our own community.’”
Soon, the school safety taskforce was putting things into place and coding for the project.
“If someone is in a medical situation or maybe hiding from a situation, they can call from that room and say, ‘I’m such and such, and I’m hiding in room 201,’” said St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder. “That way, they know where they are instead of, I’m hiding in Mrs. Smith’s science room.”
Phase I in the Parkway School District and their 31 buildings is already underway. Next school year, they will add striping along hallways to coincide with the numbers on the doors.