The following is a true account from an employee who joined Omnilert to support our efforts in mitigating harm and expediting emergency response. Leigh Larson is a Full-Stack Developer and has been with the company since November 2020.
I spent my childhood in two worlds -- my conservative father’s lakehouse in rural East Texas and my liberal mother’s home in urban Fort Worth. My dad worked as a stockbroker and my mom worked in women’s healthcare. I received a Red Ryder BB gun from my dad at the age of five, and no one in his family thought anything of it. My mom’s side was appalled.
When I was in middle school, I won an award for riflery and sharpshooting. Around that time, I lost my best friend to a self-inflicted gunshot. I later joined the military and the year I received training to perform funerals in a C-17 for deceased USAF service members shot down in combat was the same year as the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
And here I am... Raised by both southern tradition and by an anxious society that is rightfully concerned with the ongoing threat of gun violence. I wake up everyday and work tirelessly to mitigate and/or prevent gun violence harm through AI-technology and mass communications. I work primarily in both mock-up design in Figma and code execution on the front-end of software development.
My main objective in the UX/UI flow is ensuring that the design is clean, professional and informative. Administrators need to easily comprehend sensational and urgent information, and then be able to effectively send out alerts to large organizations and institutions. Additionally, once an alert of imminent danger is sent, the individual on the receiving end must be able to easily understand the situation, and intuitively interact with the safety app to take the most appropriate next steps. Colors and font sizes and spacing mean so much more than just pretty aesthetic -- there’s no time for illegible or confusing information when seconds count.
I was recently knee-deep in pixel-pushing and polishing a new design when I received a text message from my mother. She was hiding in her office on lockdown during an active shooter situation at her clinic. I learned post-event that the clinical director was off-site at a meeting and didn’t know about the situation until my mom texted her. The execs at the parent hospital didn’t know anything until that clinical director told them. Because there wasn’t a formal alert, some of the nurses thought it was a drill and didn’t react with urgency. The front desk didn’t learn of the situation until minutes later and had been allowing patients to continue to walk-in. An absolute communication breakdown across the board. One that could have cost lives.
After ensuring her safety, I communicated to the Omnilert sales team to give the clinical administration team a call. In some ways, it felt almost predatory to try to push a sale after a chaotic and dangerous situation. In other ways, I knew that if my mom’s hospital had Omnilert, I’d feel a lot better about her working there.
Perhaps, Omnilert’s gun detection software could have spotted the shooter before he arrived at the doors of the clinic. Perhaps, an employee with Omnilert’s mobile panic button functionality could have directly contacted the security team. Either way, the time from threat recognition to mass communication and public safety would have been greatly reduced.
Too often, facilities don't have emergency plans and protocols in place for potential active shooter incidents. Lack of official communication and prompt notification to the staff is unacceptable. Furthermore, what if my mom witnessed or experienced an injury (or worse) and didn’t have a way to silently request help when in hiding during the lockdown?
I almost lost my mom to an active shooter last week, but I am happy to report her clinic is now in talks with Omnilert to ensure preventative measures are in place in case of future incidents. Gun ownership may be controversial, but gun violence is not. Be proactive and take steps today to protect your organization from a potential active shooter threat. Don’t wait until it’s too late.