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article / March 25, 2021

From Air to Aid: The Story Behind Axon Aid

Karl Schulz is an ex-Navy Helicopter Pilot. During his service, Karl was mostly in Combat Support, but in his final tour he worked in Search and Rescue, most notably as a first responder in the days following Hurricane Katrina.

Retiring after his career in such a high-paced, high-stress environment, Karl found himself trying to fill his days with any and every activity other than relaxing. After building an impressive tree house in his backyard for his kids, his wife figured maybe the key to a successful semi-retirement for Karl was: a new job.

Karl joined Axon and soon became in involved in what evolved into Axon Aid. “I don't think it even had a name at first. Josh Isner [Axon's Chief Revenue Officer] recognized that Axon sits at a unique nexus of technology, practical operations, and law enforcement. He wanted to use our reach to support agencies in areas that had been hit by disasters.” The desire to help our partner agencies, at zero cost to the customers and their communities, was the driving force behind the Axon Aid program.

Karl recruited a young Santa Clara grad, Isabella Giannini, to support the effort, and together the duo spent almost six months in discovery, talking with customers from multiple regions, assessing Axon’s product portfolio, and identifying the technologies that could have the fastest and most profound impact for our customers. Thanks to this careful planning, the initiative was not only a success, but quickly grew larger than the team could have hoped.

“Every year we do more deployments under more scenarios. The first year was just a couple of hurricane responses. The next year was hurricanes, tornadoes, and (unfortunately) response to a violent protest in a major metropolitan area.” This year, Schultz hopes “we’ll likely respond to wildfire relief as well as flooding. I see the breadth of scenarios to which we respond continuing to grow over the next several years.”

As Axon Aid has grown, Karl has become a mentor to the more junior members of the team. His first-hand experience in disaster zones allows him to prepare less experienced team members what to expected when in the field---mainly this means to expect the unexpected.

Karl is excited for what’s to come for the entire Axon Aid team. “There are so many outstanding organizations; government, commercial enterprises, and non-profits that provide support to those in need. As we’ve grown in size and capability, we’re recognizing the synergistic effects of joining forces with some of these organizations and the outsized impact this collaboration will have on the communities we support.”

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