Home Emergency Management News Active-Shooter Situations Are Best Handled by Isomorphism Approach

Active-Shooter Situations Are Best Handled by Isomorphism Approach


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

The active shooter situation in the United States has reached near-epidemic proportions. Sadly, these violent incidents continue to happen without much that the federal government can do to stop them.

In Congress, both parties have expressed support for several gun control measures to help protect the American people. But little, if any, actual legislation has been enacted.

In the past few years, public safety officials throughout the country have contemplated ways to better handle active shooter situations and to save as many lives as possible.

Using the concept of isomorphism, jurisdictions throughout the country are working to create Rescue Task Force teams to better address active shooter situations. In time, that practice may reduce the number of casualties.

Isomorphism Creates an Industry Standard

Isomorphism explains how organizations will model themselves after other organizations. By doing so, they create a modeling standard and standardized processes in just about any discipline. Some social scientists say this is why hospitals, museums and other organizations look the same in design and structure.

It is important for some organizations to follow isomorphism modeling. This modeling will help them to coordinate their efforts with those of other jurisdictions and create a standard to use for public safety issues.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop the Bleed program, combined with the Rescue Task Force, gives victims a greater chance of surviving an active shooter incident. If anything, active shooter incidents have forced public safety agencies to change their procedures for handling violent incidents.

International Public Safety Association Demonstrates Usefulness of Isomorphism

Modeling organizational structures isn’t a new concept when it comes to the creation of teams. The International Public Safety Association recently released a “Rescue Task Force Best Practices Guide" to help jurisdictions understand what works best for them.

The guide follows the isomorphism approach by including methods that have been developed to manage mass casualty incidents. It helps public safety agencies to understand some of the best ways to create a team for their own jurisdictions.

As active shooter situations continue, public safety agencies will continue seeking better ways to handle such incidents. Concepts like isomorphism can help these agencies create a standard of action. That will strengthen how these events are handled and promote increased communication between public safety agencies throughout the country.


Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.