The Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA is overseeing a two-year project on the Economic and Emotional Impact of an Active Shooter/Hostile Event – thanks to Fire Prevention and Safety Grant money from FEMA.
The technical committee for NFPA 3000, Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program (the world’s first standard to help communities holistically plan for, respond to, and recover from mass casualty events) will play an integral role in the research effort.
Emergency responders, who are directly involved with horrific active shooter/hostile event tragedies can suffer life-long impact. This toll is felt acutely by the individual sufferer, but it is also affects the 29,819 fire departments in the U.S; 18,000 law enforcement agencies (according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics); and 51,808 local government units (per 2012 Census of Governments data) - most of which bear the costs associated with expanded mental health resources, staff turnovers, early retirements, and staff reassignments. Additionally, victims and community members experience ongoing trauma, and yet, there is little information available on the cost of these impacts to inform resource allocation and public policy.
The AFG-funded project will define a sustainable, quantified approach to measure the impact of ASHER incidents by:
- establishing valid economic measures for the fire service and others;
- quantifying the short-and-long-term emotional impact on emergency responders;
- justifying resources needed for preparedness, training, equipment, and other critical needs;
- and supporting the unified approach outlined in NFPA 3000
In May 2018, Chief Otto Drozd of Orange County, Florida asked the Research Foundation to look at how a first responder’s psyche and physical well-being are affected, and departmental budgets are impacted by hostile events. Drozd is passionate about the topic given that his department responded to the Pulse Night Club shooting incident in Orlando. In September of that same year, the topic was discussed at the Urban Fire Forum and a position paper that touched on the impact to the fire service was released. As the year rounded out, the Research Foundation convened a sub-group of the full NFPA 3000 Technical Committee to determine what they considered to be an ASHER-related research priority. Representatives from the fire service (International Association of Fire Fighters, Metro Chiefs, NFPA, Orange County Fire/Response Department); emergency medical services (American Ambulance Association), and law enforcement (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, Department of Justice, Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Police Foundation) supported the proposed economic and emotional impact research project, and the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) proposal was submitted, on their behalf.
The project will quantify the toll on public safety departments, including the long-term emotional impact on personnel; and highlight costs that can help justify the necessary resources to plan and train for all phases of active shooter and hostile event incidents, including the highly-complex recovery phase. The project will:
- identify the relevant impacts on public safety departments, as well as available data and methodologies to estimate their costs in dollars;
- develop a framework to benchmark costs, and identify gaps in data;
- use the framework to complete three case studies utilizing communities of different sizes and demographic compositions;
- establish recommendations for planning, training, and recovery for active shooter and hostile event response that could help reduce or avoid costs;
- and disseminate methodology/framework, case studies, and recommendations to appropriate audiences.
The ASHER economic and emotional impact research will begin this fall, and the final report and other deliverables are expected to be completed by September 2021.