Active Shooter Response – Saving Crucial Minutes in The Response Process Helps Fire/EMS Save Lives

Wednesday March 13, 2019

Giving Responders the Who & Where in Seconds

By Rupa Shah & Richard Ryan – Advisers to Athena Security, Inc.

March 2019

When mass shootings happen, saving minutes in the response process helps police and Fire /EMS save lives.

The unfortunate reality is that active shooter incidents are occurring with greater frequency and with greater loss of life and injuries in our communities. Recent incidents in the United States and around the world underscore the importance of first responder and community preparedness for active shooter and/or hostile events. These tragedies have a significant and lasting impact on entire communities, and response and recovery strategies are vital to mitigate their impacts.

Once the shooting stops, officers must also systematically clear a scene of threats before Fire/EMS resources can enter “warm zones” and attend to the wounded. The total response time beginning with event notification to “all clear” status has a critical impact on lives lost.

The Athena Security Video Weapon Detection system is a new technology that uses most existing surveillance camera systems to recognize and detect weapons within seconds. It delivers the who, what where and when of weapon events including victim images to authorities within seconds.  The Athena system saves time by starting the response before the gunshot and 911 call, and providing critical intelligence to officers and Fire/EMS arriving on the scene so that they can make informed decisions on aggressive entry.

The Athena Video Weapon Detection system is an essential addition to any modern layered security approach. It is available now.  It is affordable.  It could make a difference in your life.

First on the Scene with Accurate Intelligence

In the event of an active shooter incident in a community, Fire/EMS first responders will be called upon to respond and provide lifesaving interventions at the scene, sometimes at great personal risk.

Fire/EMS personnel normally remain clear of any scene that is not secure, meaning that the threat had not yet been neutralized by law enforcement, with the consequence of wounded and injured victims remaining in the threat area without treatment until the scene was secured.

911 calls often include incomplete and conflicting information. Responders need critical intelligence by the time they arrive on the scene in order to know the location of the victims. Do we really need to rely on witness accounts to inform responding officers on what is actually happening at an active shooter scene?

No.  Today’s machine vision applications that use the existing surveillance camera systems provide the who, what, when and where in active shooting scenarios within seconds. If a common surveillance camera system was updated to provide responders with up to the second intelligence, could “first to the scene” responders make more timely and effective interventions?

Supporting the Fire/EMS Tactical Response

Treating wounded victims is an equally critical part of active shooter responses.  This part of the response requires close coordination of police and Fire/EMS forces on the scene.  A recent tactical EMS article stated:

The primary mission for law enforcement is to stop the killing. Once that occurs, the mission for everyone including law enforcement is to stop the dying. This is best done by reducing the time between threat elimination and medically trained rescuers on scene, or in some cases, bringing casualties to a treatment area. Time is the critical factor here.[1]

Normally EMS responders’ stage at a safe distance from any threat and enter a scene to begin treatment once the “All Clear” status has been declared by law enforcement.  Clearing an active shooter scene consumes critical minutes, even hours, allowing casualties to possibly bleed to death.

Just as police response strategies for active shooter responses have shifted toward aggressive entry, Fire/EMS response approaches have shifted to the formation of a rescue task force (RTF) where Fire/EMS personnel have specific training and protective equipment that enables them to deliver treatment in less than ideal “Warm Zones” instead of delaying care until the “All Clear”.

Do we really need to wait for police to report the location of wounded victims to Fire/EMS while they are clearing a facility of threats?

No.  A surveillance camera system equipped with machine vision capability will identify and highlight the location of victims and provide imaging that might be used for limited triage to an incident command post. Would providing the location and images of victims to EMS personnel before they arrive on the scene allow them to deliver more timely and effective treatment?

[1]Redefining ‘All Clear’ in active-shooter response –

New Security Technology Supports A Faster Response to Active Shooter Events

Austin Texas based, Athena Security, Inc. offers a video weapon detection system that works with most surveillance camera systems that are already in place.  The video weapon detection system monitors camera feeds and recognizes drawn weapons within 4 seconds of seeing them.  Once a weapon is recognized, an alert is sent to security resources and shared to responders via a smartphone app.

A notification asking the user to hit 'False' or 'Confirm' on the Threat Alert. There is a picture of the threat holding a gun with a green box around the gun. The item in the green box (or the gun in this case) is trigger.

When there is an active shooter, Athena will identify them and send the location authority a notification. Immediately, you can confirm that there is a threat, and get the response team out to the scene.

Responders are provided with the Who, When, What and Where including images at the same time. This system takes a mass shooting response that starts after precious minutes are already gone and changes that to seconds.  How many events could be stopped and how many lives could be saved with this extra time?

The Athena system is already in place or being tested in several different venues including schools, office/ workplaces, gaming/entertainment and retail.

If you are concerned about vulnerability to gun violence in the places that you work, learn, worship, shop or have fun, please inform the people responsible for protection about this technology.  It is available now.  It is affordable.  It could make a difference in your life.

About the authors:

Rupa Shah and Richard Ryan are experienced technology executives that have successfully led massive technology and organizational change projects.  Now they are helping technology startups to make a difference in the world.  We invite any comments or questions.  Please email: