For first responders in the U.S., threats faced on the job are changing – whether it be responding to an everyday call gone wrong or an active shooter situation, the threats to first responders are real. In fact, a recent study by Armor NOW revealed that first responders are alarmingly vulnerable to active shooter situations. Around 70% of fire rescue respondents and 83% of law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) respondents have been in or know a colleague or friend that has been involved in an active shooter incident.
According to the FBI, from 2016-2017 alone, there were 50 active shooter incidents in the U.S., with 13 law enforcement officers killed and 20 wounded. Meanwhile, 14 incidents ended with the exchange of gunfire between the shooter and law enforcement. In 2018, there were an additional 27 mass shooting incidents across 16 states – with nine of the 27 incidents ended with the exchange of gunfire.
In a climate of rising active shooter situations, first responders are having to adopt new techniques. The Rescue Task Force model, for example, begins lifesaving care in designated ‘warm’ zones before a scene is secured during a mass casualty incident. While models like this are put in place to save more lives, they also put first responders at risk and indirectly in harm’s way.
Meanwhile, we are also seeing an unprecedented increase in direct violence from patients and bystanders against first responders who are just trying to do their job. The average for non-fatal occupational injuries per 100 full-time EMS workers is 34.6, far higher than the national average of 5.8 across all occupations.