Tuesday, April 28, 2020

X is for X-code

FEMA developed a marking system for use by search and rescue organizations when there is a disaster. It was first widely used after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has continued to be a standard for disasters since. 

On May 22, 2011, the "X" system was used in the aftermath of the Joplin tornado.

A  (usually) red diagonal line is spray painted outside the doorway of a structure (if there's enough structure for a line - sometimes, they have to be creative about this step) as the search and rescue team enters the building to search it. When they exit, they make a second diagonal line to form an "X" and add the date and time to the top quadrant, any hazards to the right quadrant, and the number of bodies found inside (two numbers with a slash between them designates that the count includes dead bodies). In the left quadrant is shorthand for the rescue squad doing the search. Vehicles are also searched and marked with an "X."

Creativity at work. The front door is actually lying on the ground just beyond the framed
window that is on the left side of the photo. The "X" is on what was left of an inner wall.
(This was the dance studio that was my daughter's second home for many years.)

Not sure why it was searched twice.

I hope you never have to see these X's in person.

A severe thunderstorm just passed through our area with strong winds, hail, heavy rain, dangerous lightning, and the potential for tornadoes.

Happy spring! 


  1. We expect that weather tomorrow. Hope I never see one or am on one either.

  2. That is somewhat chilling to see!

  3. I hope never to see one although it does sound like a useful system for search and rescue operations. Weekends In Maine