Active Shooter Notification Time Costs Lives

In February 2018, seventeen people were killed and 14 wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS), in Parkland, Florida. Former student Nikolas Cruz entered building 12 and opened fire with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. In 1 minute and 39 seconds, Cruz shot 21 people, 9 fatally.

According to the Public Safety Commission Report of January 2019, the notification time and 911 inadequacies played a big role in the outcome of this tragedy. There is no official report of how many cellphone callers at MSDHS dialed 911, but those who did had to explain their reason for calling, then they were put on hold and rerouted to explain again to the next dispatcher, and by then, it was too late. It took 4 minutes and 22 seconds from the time Coral Springs received the first call of shots fired at MSDHS until it dispatched its first police officer.

One of the biggest problems with active shooter situations everywhere is there is no single protocol for getting help, nor is there a universal help signal – like pulling the red lever in the event of a fire – and the “dial 911” notification process is costing lives. It takes too long and is fraught with delays and uncertainty, including who is supposed to call and when. Sadly, the Parkland 911 situation is not unique.

Research suggests when waiting on law enforcement to respond and handle a crisis, the average casualty count is 14, but when people arenotified right away, casualties average 2.5.

The Importance of Tactical, Notification, & Response Times

The average time it takes for a traumatized victim to call 911 is called “tactical time” and is usually 5-7 minutes. Add another 4 to 11 minutes for 911 calls to be processed and first responders to arrive. Most shooting incidents are over in 5-12 minutes. The tactical, notification and response times must be sped up to save lives and can be with the touch of a smartphone “button.” This technology exists with Guard911®– it’s time we embrace it.

If one person at MSDHS had touched the armed intruder icon on their smartphone as soon as they saw Cruz enter the building with the gun, first responder help may have been just around the corner, and the outcome may have been very different.


  • Tactical Time: the time it takes a victim or witness to realize what is happening and call 911 – 5-7 minutes.
  • Notification Time: the time it takes a 911 call to be processed and first responders dispatched – 4-11 minutes.
  • Response Time: the time it takes for a first responder to be on the scene and act – 4-18 minutes.


“When an active killer strikes, whether it’s at a school or any public place, the amount of time it takes from the initial chaos to making the call to the police has been identified by Ed Sanow as 5-7 minutes. That’s tactical time. With a touch of a panic button in the SchoolGuard® app, this critical notification time to police is sped up and 911 and surrounding first responders are notified instantaneously.” – Ron Borsch, Retired Police Officer and Owner of Active Response Training

What Can Be Learned from Parkland

In Parkland and other communities that contract their 911 services, many callers hang up in fear and frustration before ever getting to the first responder needed. When traumatized, a victim has a significant reduction in fine motor control, near vision, and color vision, which can make it extremely difficult to perform the life-saving act of even dialing 911, let alone be put on hold and repeat their need for help to another dispatcher.

In this case, in February 2018 and still today, Parkland 911 calls from cellular phones are routed to Coral Springs, prohibiting Broward Sheriff Officers (BSO) from receiving Parkland’s direct 911 calls. The Coral Springs 911 center initially treated the MSDHS shooting solely as a fire/EMS event because it provides fire and emergency medical services to Parkland, not police response. This is what happened when those MSDHS cellphone callers called 911 for help.


  1. They had to explain their emergency to the Coral Springs 911 dispatcher first.
  2. Then the dispatcher told each person to standby while they called Broward County Regional Communications.
  3. The Coral Springs dispatcher then told the BSO dispatcher about the caller on the line with a police emergency.
  4. Finally, the 911 callers had to repeat the reason for needing the police all over again to the BSO dispatcher.


We have learned from the Parkland attack and the other 276+ active shooter tragedies between 2000-2019, that there is not enough time for even the most prepared person to react and get help with our traditional 911 system. It is preposterous to expect anyone – especially our school children and staff – to be this vulnerable without immediate help available.

Easy-to-Use Guard911® Apps Save Lives

The only control we have in these situations is to take direct life-saving action “because the remainder of the control is in the hands of the active killer,” Ron Borsch explains. Research suggests when waiting on law enforcement, the average casualty count is 14, but when people are notified right away, casualties average 2.5. So how do you get an immediate notification to all levels of help in an instant? With easy-to-use technology, like the Guard911® apps.

Anyone with a cellphone has apps. Even the most technologically challenged person among us can push an app icon. That’s how easy Guard911 is to use. Guard911, SchoolGuard®, and CampusGaurd™ apps have many useful daily features, but the most important is that they do several things all at once. Simply by pushing one big red “button” on a cellphone screen, each app does the following:


  • Speed-dials 911 for the “activator” to inform the police about the situation.
  • As the activator waits to speak to the 911 operator, it alerts all other users on property and shows a mapped location of the initial alert for situational awareness.
  • Alerts other properties within a 5-mile radius (as 20% of spree killers go mobile).
  • While the activator is still waiting to speak with 911, law enforcement officers, on or off duty, who have the free Hero911® app are alerted and on their way.


We Must Protect Our Children’s Lives NOW

Today, because of the increase in active shooter incidents, our law enforcement agencies have adopted somewhat of a universal response plan. They now rush to the scene (once they’ve been notified in the first 4-11 minutes), actively search for the killer, and neutralize the threat to minimize body count. However, without Guard911, the issue still remains – how to expedite tactical and notification times so that our children can be saved when the unthinkable happens again. And it will.

The denial must end, and schools need to get Guard911 technology NOW. There is simply no excuse to not use it. In every emergency, “Seconds Save Lives!” Be sure to go to Guard911 to sign up today, and all current and former first responders, you can get the free Hero911® app to help save lives.

According to the FBI, there have been 277 Active Shooter Incidents between 2000-2018, 1012 killed, 1516 wounded. In 2000 there was 1 mass shooting; in 2018 there were 27. There is no “number” to represent the life-long emotional trauma and the number of lives forever changed. Guard911 can change these awful statistics.
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