A rapid response to active shooters

A look at the Rapid Responder vest developed by Templar Integrated Security Solutions 

The Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990 prohibits the use or carry of firearms on school grounds in order to help protect schools from gun-related violence. According to the Stanford University database on mass shootings, 69 percent of mass shootings occurred in gun-free zones – including Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut; Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California; Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and Oikos University in Oakland, California.

These mass shootings alone total 47 deaths and 14 injuries.

Peter Raciti, Eastern Michigan University alumnus, ’92, decided to create a business and a definitive solution to killing sprees – Templar Integrated Security Solutions, LLC.

“After the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, my partners and I didn’t see anybody else looking for a real solution to what was becoming an epidemic in proportion,” said Raciti in an interview with Dr. Dave Janda of Operation Freedom.

“We spent several months studying many of the massacres we’ve had in the United States to try and determine where we could interrupt the bad guy’s plan,” Raciti continued.

Rapid Response System

Through Templar Integrated Security Solutions, based in Brighton, Michigan, Raciti and his partners Ben Powers and Jeff Thompson created the Rapid Response System, which acts around four key objectives: deter the event; defend the occupants; defeat the individual and triage any victims.

“Our solution places equal emphasis on stopping these spree killers and aiding victims in the critical moments before first responders can arrive,” said Jeff Thompson in a video on the Templar website.

Traditional security methods involve video cameras, locks on the doors and access control, but Raciti found these methods alone were unsuccessful in mitigating the threat of an active shooter.

“Each and every one of the places that had an active shooting had one or all of those traditional security methods,” said Raciti. “More security and more cameras will not stop the bad guy and it will not stop the bullets.”

The Rapid Response System is a biometric vault secured with multilevel security access including smart card and iris scan technology. Inside the vault is a Templar Rapid Responder vest – a ballistically rated vest – with a firearm, spare magazines, trauma kits, knife, and flashlight and radio.

The vault is also equipped with a central monitoring system that verifies the active shooter situation and dispatches to the police. A data packet with the layout of the building is also sent to the police when the vault is opened.

With proper training, the vault can be accessed and the responder – teacher, employee, etc. – is ready to defend the building and tend to the wounded within two minute.

Templar Integrated Security Solutions is currently working on live feed cameras and GPS location for the vests.

“We can’t take away their [the shooter’s] mortality because they already accepted it, and they are in charge of when and if they die,” said Raciti.

“What we can take away is their ability to succeed and reduce the number of victims,” he continued.

Training the Rapid Responders

“For us, we need the tools, we need the training and we need the manpower – and then we become an effective deterrent,” said Raciti.

The Rapid Response System operates on trained volunteers who are ready and willing to defend themselves and others during an active shooter situation. In the case of a school, these “active responders” would be teachers.

“Many teachers – well I would argue all – the teachers who have died in an active shooting event put themselves between the bad guy and their students because they love their students,” said Raciti.

Phillip Hayes, a special education teacher at Forest Academy in Ypsilanti, Michigan, believes firearms should not be allowed on school grounds – even in the hands of a teacher – but knows that he would do anything to protect his students from harm.

“Your first instinct is to always protect your kids,” said Hayes. “Any teacher – they loves kids – and they would do anything to stop any violent act.”

Similar to the Federal Air Marshall program, the rapid responders would be trained in context, meaning the training is narrowly focused to manage a threat in a specific building. The ultimate goal of the training and the Raid Response System is to act as a deterrent in order to cut the gunman’s rampage time.

Training – one, 50 plus hour week – is ran through different police academies throughout Southeastern Michigan. Although the training curriculum is not complete, Templar Integrated Security Solutions is working with police academies to specialize the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards for their Rapid Response System.

“Bullet Proof Mind,” one of the seminars during the training week, focuses on the psychology of killing in the mind of an active shooter.

Templar Integrated Security Solutions also focuses on triaging wounds, firearms training and simulations of active shooter situations during the training.

“The key focus is that we [the rapid responders] are there for a short period of time until the true professionals arrive,” said Raciti.

The price of the Rapid Response System depends on the number of vaults in the building and the number of vests within each vault. For example, a school with four vaults containing two vests each and 12 employees trained would cost approximately $150,000.

Although the Rapid Response System is not installed in any school buildings just yet, Raciti and his partners are putting out quotes to potential school districts and hope to have their system installed by next quarter.

“We just want to make a difference and we are going to save lives,” said Raciti.

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