For first responders in the U.S., threats faced on the job are changing – whether it be responding to an everyday call gone wrong or an active shooter situation, the threats to first responders are real. In fact, a recent study by Armor NOW revealed that first responders are alarmingly vulnerable to active shooter situations. Around 70% of fire rescue respondents and 83% of law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) respondents have been in or know a colleague or friend that has been involved in an active shooter incident.

According to the FBI, from 2016-2017 alone, there were 50 active shooter incidents in the U.S., with 13 law enforcement officers killed and 20 wounded. Meanwhile, 14 incidents ended with the exchange of gunfire between the shooter and law enforcement. In 2018, there were an additional 27 mass shooting incidents across 16 states – with nine of the 27 incidents ended with the exchange of gunfire. 

In a climate of rising active shooter situations, first responders are having to adopt new techniques. The Rescue Task Force model, for example, begins lifesaving care in designated ‘warm’ zones before a scene is secured during a mass casualty incident. While models like this are put in place to save more lives, they also put first responders at risk and indirectly in harm’s way.

Meanwhile, we are also seeing an unprecedented increase in direct violence from patients and bystanders against first responders who are just trying to do their job. The average for non-fatal occupational injuries per 100 full-time EMS workers is 34.6, far higher than the national average of 5.8 across all occupations.

Armor made with Dyneema®

With such a variety of threats to face each day, first responders need to be equipped with an appropriate range of armor solutions. Lightweight ballistic material is critical in providing comfort and flexibility on the job.

Dyneema® material offers the lightest solution on the market for both soft and hard body armor applications. It has become the material of choice for protective vests used by law enforcement departments nationwide, including the New York Police Department (NYPD).

armor made with dyneema

The need for education and protection

The alarming facts about EMS welfare pushed Avient to take action to help protect those that protect us. 

In 2017, Avient launched Armor NOW – an educational campaign aimed at building awareness around the emerging threats that first responders face on the job. 

By providing educational tools, training resources and lifesaving gear, Avient hopes to encourage all first responders to prepare for the possible, not just the probable. 

Armor is absolutely crucial first responders, but many organizations can take it for granted and may not know about the options available that can protect without interfering with crucial duties. 

Armor NOW is about valuing life and ensuring that if tragedy hits, first responders are ready. Protection begins with education about the threats and the different types of armor solutions that are available. 

Our program offers vital information to help organizations make educated decisions. Additionally, it can help facilitate conversations to identify challenges that can be solved with technology developments, or with resources that amplify the voices of the people who protect and serve.