Improving Emergency Response with Door Numbering

August 2, 2017

PhotoI am truly lucky to be able to work with hundreds of schools and law enforcement agencies every year, assisting them in protecting their students, staff, parents, and communities. Recently, while working with a community on improving emergency response by first responders I was asked, “Is there a low cost, easily implemented answer for improving response times to our schools”. I immediately thought of a simple solution that we strongly recommend in all of our school safety assessments and emergency management training, school door numbering. Numbering all of the external doors of a school allows first responders a guide to enter your school through the door closest to the crisis location.

Although some officials attempt to make the door numbering process more difficult than it should be, it truly is a project any school large or small, private or public can complete without needing to seek funding from their district. I like to call these projects, “bake sale” purchases because it is so inexpensive a bake sale can pay for it.

Here is the least expensive and easiest way to complete the project;

  1. Count the number of entrance doors to your school
  2. Go to the local home or hardware store and purchase numbers to individually number as many doors you have on your school. I usually suggest 9 inch numbers that are reflective and/or contrast the door you will be putting them on. The numbers should be easily visible from the road or parking lot, so if you can accomplish that with smaller numbers, that’s great and if 9 inches are not visible you may have to increase to 12 inches.
  3. Starting at your front main entrance as door 1 then moving sequentially clockwise, install the numbers on the upper right of the door or above the door if needed. If you have a door bank with more than one door it is better to center the number placement. If your school has mobile classrooms or buildings they can be numbered M1, M2, and so on.
  4. Ideally you would install the same number, although not as large, on the interior of the door so those not familiar with the door numbering will still be able to use the numbers as a reference point.
  5. Once installed, simple trainings for first responders, staff and students on use of the numbering system when calling or responding to the school would greatly improve response times.

For more information on door numbering or any school safety question or issue please feel free to contact me at asknlectc@justnet.org. Type School Safety Inquiry in the subject line.

Sean Burke has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement and is currently a lieutenant in the Lawrence, Massachusetts Police Department commanding the gang task force and SRO unit.


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