Rescue Assistance Communication Systems and Signage

Overview: Area of Rescue or Area of Refuge Emergency Communication Systems

Area of RefugeMulti-story buildings around the globe use Cornell’s time-proven area of rescue or refuge emergency intercom systems to:

  1. Ensure individuals with limited mobility are safe in emergency situations and have a method to call for assistance
  2. Ensure schools and other public venues have a system for individuals to call for help in dangerous situations

Signage is also required by building codes, as well as ADA and NFPA 101 regulations, to ensure the call stations and safe refuge areas can be readily found. Signage also includes instructions to call for assistance.

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System Design and Configuration

Call stations to request assistance

Highly intuitive, vandal-resistant call stations are typically placed in each stairwell or adjacent to the elevators to provide hands-free emergency voice communication at the press of a button. A tone and flashing light assure the caller their call for help has been received, and a voice confirmation response assures them help is on the way.

Calls are communicated to a Master Panel or to offsite Emergency Response Centers

When the call is activated it is indicated on the master panel--typically located near the building entrance, Fire Alarm Panel or in the Security office. Some buildings will mount additional panels at secondary building entrances (or at all entrances). The person hearing the tone selects the alarm zone calling for assistance, talks to the caller and indicates when help will arrive. If the call is not responded to in a time set by the system, the call is forwarded to an offsite 911 emergency response center.

A 24VDC Power Supply

The system is centrally powered with a battery backup to ensure operation in times of emergency.


Custom cabling is available in plenum and non-plenum styles, along with Fire Resistant Cable for the 4200 analog system.

Area of Rescue Signage

ADA-compliant signage is required in three forms: Directional signs to show the way to the alarm station and safe refuge area, Lighted Room Location signs to identify the refuge area, and Instruction signs indicating how to operate the alarm station to call for assistance.


Cornell offers an analog and a digital area of rescue communication system. Emergency communication systems were first mandated by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1993 and later made mandatory in all multi-story buildings by the International Building Code (IBC) adoption in 2015.

Which system should you select?

The IBC code now requires two-way communication between the offsite 911 center and the person calling for assistance. Building codes are implemented locally and enforced by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Certain AHJ’s interpret two-way voice communication between both parties as something which can only be accomplished with an intercom (as the Model 4800 Digital system has). Other AHJ’s feel text or recorded messages meet that requirement and say the Model 4200 Analog system is adequate. You will need to consult with your AHJ to determine the specific requirements for your locality.

The Analog Area of Rescue Emergency Communication System, Model 4200

This legacy system operates as indicated above with individual buttons for each alarm station or zone. It can be sized from 1 to 28 zones in multiples of 4 zones, can have only one Master Control Panel and communicates to the remote 911 center via text and pre-recorded voice messaging only. Two way voice communication to the call stations is available from the master panel but not from the 911 center.

Overview/Brochure Architectural Specs Operation Instructions
Installation/Wiring Manual Design Guide

The Digital Area of Rescue Emergency Communication System, Model 4800

This system was developed to meet the requirements of the International Building Code (IBC) adopted by the US in 2015. It provides for up to 5 Control Panels and 255 call stations maximum, therefore lending itself to larger buildings. It also provides for two way voice communication both in the building and with the 911 Center.

Overview/Brochure Architectural Specs Operation Instructions
Installation/Wiring Manual Design Guide

Area of Rescue Emergency Signage

Cornell Communications offers a complete line of Rescue Assistance Signage which meets ADA specifications for use with Areas of Rescue. This includes:

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Area of Rescue System Custom Cable

Simplify your installation with custom cable designed to meet your specifications.

4200 Analog System

4800 Digital System

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ADA Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires areas of rescue assistance or places of refuge where people can wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Areas of rescue on each floor of a multistory building, such as a hospital, allow people who cannot use the stairs to call for help, receive instructions, and wait for assistance during an evacuation. Clear signage reading “Area of Rescue Assistance” is required, along with instructions for using the two-way communication system.

The emergency communication system must be usable for people with hearing impairments, speech impairments, and difficulty accessing. An area of rescue system with both visible and audible signals allows the people with hearing or speech difficulties to receive information. A light indicating the call was received and a voice intercom make the system more accessible in an emergency. An emergency call system with no handset also makes it easier for people with difficulty reaching or grasping.

Contact the Area of Rescue communication systems specialists at Cornell Communications today for more information about our emergency communication technologies.

Nurse/Emergency Call

Designed for a wide variety of solutions to keep people safe anywhere they go

ADA Rescue Assistance

For emergency evacuation of multistory buildings & campus/parking lot security

Building Perimeter Security

Control unauthorized access/egress & contain wandering residents
Need help deciding the best system? We Can Help!
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Cornell Communications for Emergency & senior living facilities
7915 North 81st St. Milwaukee WI 53223

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