Use of ShotSpotter detection technology decreases prehospital time for patients sustaining gunshot wounds

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2019 Dec;87(6):1253-1259. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002483.


Background: Shorter prehospital time in patients sustaining penetrating trauma has been shown to be associated with improved survival. Literature has also demonstrated that police transport (vs. Emergency Medical Services [EMS]) shortens transport times to a trauma center. The purpose of this study was to determine if ShotSpotter, which triangulates the location of gunshots and alerts police, expedited dispatch and transport of injured victims to the trauma center.

Methods: All shootings which occurred in Camden, NJ, from 2010 to 2018 were reviewed. Demographic, geographic, response time, transport time, and field intervention data were collected from medical and police records. We compared shootings where the ShotSpotter was activated versus shootings where ShotSpotter was not activated. Incidents, which did not occur in Camden or where complete data were not available, were excluded as were patients not transported by police or EMS.

Results: There were 627 shootings during the study period which met inclusion criteria with 190 (30%) activating the ShotSpotter system. Victims involved in shootings with ShotSpotter activation were more severely injured, more likely to be transported by police, less likely to undergo trauma bay resuscitative measures, and more likely to receive blood products. Mortality, when adjusted for distance, Trauma, and Injury Severity Score, Injury Severity Score, and shock index, was not significantly different between ShotSpotter and non-ShotSpotter incidents. ShotSpotter activation significantly reduced both the response time as well as transport time for both police and EMS (all p < 0.05).

Conclusion: The activation of the ShotSpotter technology increased the likelihood of police transport of gunshot victims. Furthermore, the use of this technology resulted in shorter response times as well as transport times for both police and EMS. This technology may be beneficial in enhancing the care of victims of penetrating trauma.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic/Care management, level III.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulances
  • Female
  • Gun Violence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New Jersey
  • Police
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation of Patients*
  • Wireless Technology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / therapy*
  • Young Adult