Active Shooter Response | EMS & Fire Responsibilities

Active Shooter Response | EMS & Fire Responsibilities

Active Shooter Environments (ASE) can be the most traumatic and troubling scenes for first responders in their entire careers. As a former police officer and soldier, I’ve seen things that I can never unsee. For civilian EMS and firefighters, part of their job is to deal with the carnage that is left by mass shootings. The amount of stress and carnage our first responders deal with on an everyday basis is incredibly difficult. The last thing we want them to think about is if their Personal Protective Equipment is going to work or not. 

EMS and firefighters are asked to do a lot more than previously stated by federal and state agencies. Requiring them to wear extra equipment seems like a lot to ask for, but we know that our EMS and firefighters are up to the task. This blog will serve as a guide to understanding the responsibilities based on C3 Pathways: Active Shooter Incident Management plan. 

Who is C3 Pathways?

C3 Pathways is similar in scale to ALERRT because they offer similar training in ASE. C3 Pathways is equipped with some of the best technology in computer engineering and has active and retired members of Fire Departments, Police Departments, and federal law enforcement agencies. This level of expertise gives C3 Pathways the authenticity and credibility that a topic as serious as ASE deserves.

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C3 Pathways uses a combination of real-world live action with state-of-the-art computer simulation to provide vital training to first responders all over the country. To date, C3 Pathways has trained 7,336 first responders on ASE. The ability to combine kinesthetic learning with traditional learning methods in classroom settings ensures that all trainees can be reached, regardless of their preferred learning method. 


We want to avoid any confusion that you might have with which organization you should follow. C3 Pathways is a training organization that gets its guidelines from ALERRT. Think of the two organizations as teammates with one (ALERRT) giving instructions to the other (C3 Pathways). Both are incredible organizations that have legitimate and objective experts in their respective fields. Just like any team, however, the leader of the team (ALERRT) can take guidance from their fellow team members (C3 Pathways). 


According to ALERRT, the standing policy for most EMS and firefighters is to wait until the police clear the scene before entering. Besides the fact that they’re unarmed and not trained to confront a shooter, there are many issues that result when first responders enter too early. Some of the biggest issues is miscommunication or misinterpretation of where the shooter is, has been, or if he/she is still on the scene or not. 

Depending on the building size, it can take police hours to clear a building with injured victims inside. This is the reason that many states are adapting their policies to “Stop the Dying”. If you’d like more info on this topic, we’ve covered a lot of this in our previous blog, EMS & Firefighter Body Armor | Active Shooter Response

Hard Body Armor For Firefighters and EMS

ALERRT has recommended that EMS and firefighters should enter an ASE, even if the scene hasn’t been cleared by law enforcement to stop victims from bleeding out. Since it was discussed in great detail in our previous blog (listed above), I want to focus on which armor is recommended for use by all first responders.

According to ALERRT, first responders should be wearing hard armor plate inserts over soft body armor. Pursuant to the F.B.I., the majority of active shooters use a handgun, but that doesn’t mean there is no need for extra protection. For example, according to ALERRT, 27% of all active shooters (2000-2010) used rifles as their primary weapon.

Since the majority of current policies require EMS and firefighters to enter after the scene is clear, there really was no need for body armor. However, as our nation's first responders are asked to do more, body armor is essential to their safety and mental health. 

It’s no secret that many firefighters and EMS personnel would like armor (81%) when responding to mass casualty events. We also know that it’s logical for people to choose armor that is flexible, lightweight, breathable, and thin. This causes most first responders to choose soft armor which is only capable of stopping handgun rounds (Level IIIA). However, ALERRT and C3 Pathways would never want first responders to take a 27% chance that your armor is going to be useless in an attack. 


The Active Shooter Incident Management Checklist is specifically designed to streamline the incident command structure to save more lives. This checklist gives all first responders (fire, EMS, and police) guidance to avoid any miscommunication and power struggles. This checklist allows them to work as a team to be faster in their responses and reactions during an ASE.

The checklist’s biggest goal for response is to improve the speed in which everyone moves. For the sake of this blog, I’m going to only focus on the role of EMS and fire to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. 

EMS Fire Medical Branch Response Checklist

Medical Branch

  1. Get a verbal briefing from Fire Chief or head medical personnel

  2. Request additional resources (More EMS, ambulances, additional firefighters, etc…)

  3. Assign Triage Group

  4. Assign Transport Group

  5. Co-locate with the Law Enforcement Branch (communication is key!)

  6. Consider Treatment Group

Triage Group

  1. Get a verbal briefing from Fire Chief or head medical personnel

  2. Stand-up Rescue Task Force(s)

  3. Co-locate with the Tactical Group (police, often SWAT)

  4. Get operable areas, routes, and Casualty Collection Point location(s) (This is vital to the Transport Group to save time on casualty transport)

  5. Deploy Rescue Task Force

Rescue Task Force

  1. Assemble team and equipment (this is the group that will need body armor!)

  2. Notify Tactical when deploying (This helps to avoid friendly fire)

  3. If the RTF can’t notify Tactical when they’re entering the building,  they must at least establish Casualty Collection Point(s)

  4. Rapidly assess casualties (triage on the move to help those most likely to die without intervention)

  5. Report your count of victims to the Triage Group

  6. Identify Ambulance Exchange Point and confirm with Tactical

  7. Coordinate casualty evacuation with Transport Group

Transport Group

  1. Get a verbal briefing from Fire Chief or head medical personnel

  2. Co-locate with the Tactical Group (police, often SWAT)

  3. Determine routes before you start transport, this will prevent any wasted time when under more stress

  4. Separate radio channel so you’re not taking over radio time that’s needed for Tactical and Incident Commander (IC)

  5. Get Hospital capacity count before arriving so you know if the hospital can treat your victims

  6. Transport casualties from Ambulance Exchange Point(s)

  7. Target 3 per ambulance (1ea Red/Yel/Grn)

  8. Distribute to Hospitals

  9. Keep Transport Log for accountability

What Can ShotStop® Do For EMS & Fire?

We understand that first responders are starting to be required to wear armor and we want to help. After all, our entire purpose of business is to protect those who protect us. We can help by providing Level III and Level IV hard armor plates at a discounted price when you order for your whole department.. 

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ShotStop® offers Level 3 body armor that is less than 1” thick and only 3.2 lbs per plate. Our NIJ Listed Duritium® Level III + PS plate is perfect for those who can’t afford to carry an extra 20-30 lbs of armor, such as firefighters.

If firefighters and EMS are going to be expected to provide life-saving medical care, they need to be able to move freely and have full mobility in their arms. Our Level III armor will provide all first responders with unprecedented protection and unmatched mobility for a hard armor plate. We’re confident that our Level III body armor is significantly lighter, thinner, and more comfortable than what our competition can offer.


We don’t just offer the lightest, thinnest, and most comfortable body armor in the world, we offer peace of mind. Look at any other body armor company that you can find and you’ll notice how they talk around their certifications and testings. Our Duritium® Level III + PS plate is not only NIJ-listed, it’s certified through the German VPAM Level 6 and NATO STANAG 2920 Level B4. There is no other armor that we have seen on the market today that can offer you this level of confidence. 


The last thing any first responder should ever have to worry about is if their body armor is going to do what it says it will do. Once you wear ShotStop® body armor, you’ll never have to go into an ASE with the thought in your mind that this armor might not stop a bullet from an AR-15 style rifle. 


We’re always willing to discuss our warranty because we have the longest and most comforting warranty in the industry. We don’t say that lightly, but no other company as of today offers a standard 15-year warranty on NIJ-Listed Level III body armor. This must be considered when purchasing armor for your organization. The standard warranty for most companies is 5 years, which will force you to make this investment 3 times before you ever have to replace a Duritium® Level 3 plate. 

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Once you’re ready to provide the best, lightest, and thinnest body armor for your organization, contact us at Our sales team is standing by to give our community heroes the protection they need, at a price they can afford. We look forward to serving you soon, thank you for your service.

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