According to James Densley and Jillian Peterson, founders of the Violence Project, “If you look at mass shootings over time, two things are alarmingly clear: The attacks are becoming far more frequent, and they are getting deadlier.” EMMA, an Emergency Management Mobile Application by Think Safe was developed because the recent increases in mass shooting incidents and deaths demand action — not the acceptance of violence as an inevitable fact of American life.
The loss of life seen in the recent mass shooting by a California transit worker from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has far-reaching impacts on citizens’ mental health, anxiety, and perceptions of safety. The review of data on incidents such as this that have occurred and incidents that that are believed to have been averted have helped develop tools like EMMA via a comprehensive program approach that makes minutes matter. This is a circular approach which includes data review for continuous improvement, helps organizations — be they schools, businesses, communities, municipalities or religious facilities — prevent, prepare and respond.
Here is some what we learned from the news reports on the deadly shooting on May 26, 2021, at a VTA hub in Santa Clara Valley:
- The event occurred at around 6:30 a.m. PT when there were more than 40 employees on site at the time, according to the San Jose Police Department.
- VTA employee Kirk Bertolet, who spoke with ABS News, said he and some co-workers were able to lock down in a secure room until they heard that the shooter had moved from their building over to the next building, at which time they rushed to render aid to those injured.
- The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is adjacent to the VTA light rail yard and Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said, “deputies ran from their desks toward the gunfire when they heard shots,” and credited the proximity and speed of their response with saving many lives.
These insights correlate to evidence-based prevention, preparation and response strategies available through the Emergency Management Mobile Application (EMMA). Here are just a few questions that the features of EMMA could have during the VTA shooting:
- What’s going on? Where is the shooter? Is the threat on-going or over? With EMMA users, can instantly report an Emergency and the GPS location to 911. The two-way communication feature could have improved the administrators’/responders’ ability to monitor the situation immediately even from afar with frontline perspectives (like the location of the shooter or whether a specific area is active or cleared). Not every facility will have a sheriff’s department next door when an event like this occurs.
- Who is safe? Who is injured? Where are the employees? Unique to EMMA is the ability to monitor user responses. Responses are color-coded to allow administrators to quickly identify the users who have viewed the alerts and their user status or threat level. The ability to observe a consolidated chronological color-coded message center will help improve the messages that are broadcast throughout the emergency and ensures that administrators make informed decisions quickly through EMMA’s triage automation.
- Where are the first aid supplies or trauma kits? When VTA employees rushed to render aid to their injured co-workers, did they know where to find the necessary life-saving assets that could’ve made minutes matter (i.e. stop the bleed kits). EMMA gives users access to a library of relevant information, including floor plans, asset maps, checklists and more, putting key information into those first responding. Making minutes matter.