Pitch: { 26 images } Created 17 Apr 2018

Since the Columbine school shooting in 1999, active shooter attacks are up from 6 to 20 per year in the United States, and they’re becoming more deadly – the attack in Las Vegas last year was the worst domestic act of terror to date with 58 fatalities and 841 people injured.

In total 100,000 people are shot in the U.S. every year. They’re victims of active shooter attacks, drug and gang violence, or accidental discharge, and total $2.8bn in hospital charges.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American medics saw that applying tourniquets to gunshot victims on the battlefield increased chances of survival, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to launch the Stop the Bleed campaign in 2015, where bystanders of violent attacks on home soil were encouraged to compress wounds before ambulance arrival.

This sparked the growth of an industry concerned with developing and distributing medical and tactical products, previously used by the military in foreign wars, now licensed and marketed toward emergency services and civilians for domestic conflict scenarios. The aim was to increase defense against bullets and reduce the effect of gunshot trauma.

In previous active shooter scenarios police would wait for SWAT to engage an attacker, but as most incidents finish inside 5 minutes first responders, whether law enforcement or civilians, are being taught to hunt the attacker immediately, in the hope of distracting him from unarmed targets, or pushing him towards suicide. Fire fighters dressed in tactical combat equipment have begun to follow police into hot-zones, treating gunshot wounds and stopping bleeding, until casualties can be evacuated to ambulances.

New tactics require new equipment, and as part of their every-day kit police and fire are now asked to carry level 4 body armor, ballistic shields, tourniquets, quick-clot gauze, and medical gear capable of performing in-field amputations. This year Texas alone committed to spending $23 million on police body armor capable of withstanding rifle rounds, prompted by the 2016 Dallas shooting.

Private companies show new technology in trade shows around the country, which specialize in equipment related to gunshot wounds – a new glue that sticks a dressing to skin through wet blood, a pressurized bandage to seal a sucking chest wound, and a 30mm wide syringe filled with tiny sponges for sealing bloody cavities.

“Armed vest sales are through the roof, we can’t keep up,” says Doug Apler of Safariland, “I feel terrible – when my business is good, it normally means the general situation is bad,”

Training companies are springing up too, offering emergency services, civilians, and workplaces training in active shooter apprehension and tactical medicine. In 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a $28 million federal grant was awarded to Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training to help them offer training to more American police, in an effort to slow mass shootings.
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