Whenever an active shooter scenario occurs, the million-dollar question that's asked every time is "how could this have been prevented?" Too often people assume that these events could never affect them, and it has caused many to become reactive instead of proactive. With active shooter events occurring more often than ever before and the absolutely tragic reminder that the Orlando shooting has given us (thoughts & prayers go out to all those affected), it's imperative that everyone be prepared in the event of an emergency situation.
Over the past decade, the number of active shooter incidents and fatalities has increased significantly. According to a study by the Department of Homeland Security, between 2000-2013, 160 active shooter incidents occurred, resulting in 1,043 casualties. That’s roughly 7 lives lost/incident. Where are these shootings occurring? About 70% of those incidents occurred within businesses, malls, & schools, while 83% of all incidents occurred indoors. In almost all cases, the only people who may be aware of what’s going on, are the people closest to the shooter; that is why it is essential that people who are unaware of a developing situation are alerted before becoming a victim. Recently, mass notification systems and new state-of-the-art gunshot detection sensors have become the primary ways of alerting people in case of an emergency situation.
In mass notification systems, usually a text or email describing the threat is sent out to all personnel as soon as the threat is recognized. These threats not only include active shooter situations, but also fires, weather hazards, and other dangerous situations. Due to the fact that it takes law enforcement an average of 14-17 minutes to show up, while the average active shooter event ends in about 7 minutes, the installation of a mass notification system provides a quick and effective way of sending out extremely important information when needed most.
Another problem that people face in an active shooter scenario is identifying the exact location of the shooter. As some witnesses from the Orlando shooting pointed out, they were not able to immediately identify where the shots were coming from. A possible solution to this problem could be the implementation of a gunshot detection system. With this system present, safety and alert apps using the system can provide people with this necessary knowledge. Once a shot is fired, the sensor registers the flash emitted from the gun, as well as the sound that the shot produces. After both are registered, the location of the shooter is immediately identified, law enforcement is contacted, and a mass notification message detailing the emergency and the location of the shooter is sent out. In September 2013, a gunman was on the loose for an hour after killing 12 people in an office building at Washington Navy Yard. If a gunshot detection sensor was present in the building, it’s quite possible that the damage the shooter caused could have been minimized and lives could have been saved.
We’re all too familiar with hearing about another mass shooting on the news, and each time one occurs, the nation is sent into disarray and a state of grief. People begin to live in fear; afraid that the same thing may happen to them, a family member, a friend, a coworker, a child. While nobody can predict when or where these events will occur, we can do our best to not only try and prevent them from occurring, but also protect as many people as we can from being harmed in the event that something does occur.