Reader writes: A low-cost way to save lives

February 14, 2014 

Here’s way to aid police in school emergencies

I am a veteran police officer, father and grandfather. I live in North Carolina but have policed on both coasts. I have studied much on school shootings. I have an inexpensive idea that can help save time and lives. I forwarded this to North Carolina’s governor, but it should be implemented in every state, especially when not all schools have police officers assigned to them.

As a police officer, I usually look at places from a tactical and crime-preventive standpoint. In films of school shootings, I’ve noted no exterior markings on hardly any building involved. Usually, a police officer who has schools, hospitals, nursing homes and large buildings in his patrol area readily knows the direction and maybe some of the wing/corridor numbers of the buildings. Back-up officers often don’t. EMS and fire trucks often don’t. Especially in an active shooter scenario, time equals lives. If communications is told that a shooter is in the west wing, Room 200, then that’s where the police need to respond. However, if the primary police car is out of service and I respond as a backup, I probably won’t be able to tell where that is by looking at the building. With adrenaline high, I waste valuable time in trying to figure it out. Go and look at those buildings/schools yourself.

I propose placing on the exterior walls of all schools a painted letter about-one foot high with either N, S, E or W painted thereon for the direction of that wing/wall. If that wing contains rooms that are, say, 200 numbers – 200, 202, 204, etc. – then on the outside would be written W200 for West 200. Inside the building, the ends of every hallway would contain the same letter/number designation.

These situations, whether active shooter, natural disaster or fire, are very chaotic and require a response that is as organized and tactically proficient as possible. As a first responder, I can’t tell you how important it is to know exactly where an event is occurring and not have to try to navigate past unmarked buildings and hallways in an emergency.

Cost: Basically the time and paint used by a school maintenance person.

I hope this helps save lives in the future, and please pass this on to the proper outlets and authorities.

Jim Davenport

Kenly, N.C.

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