Aurora Theater Shooting Report Offers Recommendations to First Responders

According to an LA Times article, a report, commissioned by the city of Aurora, Colo., makes 80 recommendations to help guide a more comprehensive future response.

This report analyzes the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, where 12 people were killed and 70 others were injured.

It praises the quick response to the incident (the first police unit got to the theater within two minutes of the first 911 call), but offers suggestions for improvement.

According to the LA Times, the report concludes that first responders failed to make a coordinated effort to transport victims to hospitals. However, according to the report, this “miscommunication” did not lead to any loss of life.

The report also suggests emergency officials should create a joint command area in mass-casualty events such as shootings. In the Aurora case, a command area wasn’t set up until hours after the incident, according to the LA Times.

Communication is another key point – the report says that the “level of risk in the theater was not discussed between police and fire commanders” and that fire commanders arriving on the scene didn’t know the shooter, James E. Holmes, had been arrested by police, which caused confusion and response delay, according to the LA Times. The report makes it clear, however, that the Aurora incident was a complex situation where first responders were facing many challenges.

Other recommendations direct from the report include:

  • “Clearly identify who is the incident commander.”
  • “Make the size of the safe area (evacuation area) match the threat.”
  • “During a mass casualty incident, command should announce when the scene is reasonably safe for EMS to proceed, or what level of protection responding providers need to operate under (e.g. police guarding EMTs).”
  • Access of ambulances – “When access is difficult, police, fire or other agencies may have to physically guide ambulance units into the scene. During this incident, police personnel were aware of an access and egress point via the south side of the incident. By guiding units into the scene, ambulances could have gotten closer to patients and a transition from police to ambulance transportation could have quickly occurred.”
  • Triage ribbons and tags – “Aurora public safety providers should adopt a triage identification system that includes color-coded triage ribbons for patients.” These are color-coded for simple one-word descriptions of the severity of the patient’s condition – immediate, delayed, minor or deceased.


See the LA Times article here:

See the full report here: