Responding to an active shooter








 Active shooter incidents are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Firearms are typically used and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. The goal is typically to cause as much injury/casualty as possible in a short amount of time.

 Prepare yourself and have a plan and strategies in place ahead of time.  Have a plan, practice those plans and practice with variables (even if it is just mental rehearsal) and When/Then thinking. By doing so it helps prepare you to take more immediate action.


  • If the option presents itself - RUN, Get Out, Go!  
  • Have escape routes in mind; note your exits for your own facility and other locations that you visit. We tend to go with familiar routes that we use daily, it is OK to run across the grass instead of using the sidewalk, it is OK to go out a window or an unauthorized exit, we are creatures of habit – it is OK, you are running for your life.
  • If deemed your best option RUN whether others agree to follow or not, others may in turn follow your lead.
  • RUN in the opposite direction from the sound of shots being fired, leave your belongings behind.
  • RUN away in zig zag patterns to make yourself a more difficult target, put items between you and the shooter, create distance as quickly as possible.
  • Have a backup plan, for example, what if the door is rigged so you cannot get out.
  • When at a safe location try and alert others to what is taking place and warn them from entering the area.
  • Call 911 when you can safely do so and follow their instructions.
  • Hindrances may include:
    • The location/proximity of the shooter
    • How far is it to safety and the makeup of the environment
    • Small children being involved
  • If you can (from a safe location), prevent others from entering the danger zone



You have deemed hiding is your best option at the time (Keep your option of Run and/or fight open if the situation changes)          


  • If you are out in a more accessible area, hide the best that you can, making yourself a difficult target. Try to stay out of view, be prepared to RUN or FIGHT, possibly when a shooter must reload or is otherwise distracted or, as better options cease, look for potential weapons to use.
  • In a rest room crouch on a toilet seat so if they look under the door, they will hopefully not see you. If you are in a hallway or unsecured area and you can get to a room, go there.
  • When in a room or office, if equipped lock the door, if available use door wedges or lock sticks to help prevent the door from being opened. Shut off the lights, if possible, cover the door window, lock the windows, and lower the blinds, close curtains.
  • Block/Barricade the entrance with heavy items, turn off audible devices such as cell phones, televisions, radios etc. and stay quiet.
  • Hide behind items and out of view. Stay away from the front of the door.
  • Look for weapons to use if entry is gained.
  • Call 911 if/when you can safely do so (consider leaving the line open if you cannot speak)
  • Attempting to lock out a shooter does not always mean locked in – you may choose to lock a door and go out the window.
  • A backpack, briefcase or suitcase stuffed with books can serve as an impromptu ballistic vest to help minimize the impact if struck.
  • Be prepared to FIGHT if the attacker enters the room you are hiding. A surprise attack from the sides as the individual enters the room is recommended over approaching them head on. The more individuals acting together increases the likelihood of survival.
  • If escape was not an option, do not leave until escorted out by the police.



You have deemed fighting is your best option at the time (Keep your option of Run and/or hide open if the situation changes)

 Fighting for your life is fighting for your life; this is typically a measure of last resort to enhance survival when your life is in imminent danger. 

Mentally prepare yourself ahead of time for this being an option. 

  • Attempt to incapacitate/take down the shooter when the shooter is at close range.
  • The more individuals who work together increases the chance of overpowering or disabling the aggressor.
  • Act as aggressively as possible, commit to your actions, be prepared to cause significant physical injury
  • Use distractions, yell
  • Attack their vitals such as the eyes, nose, throat, head, groin.
  • Use any measure at hand including and whatever means possible “makeshift improvised weapons” such as, scissors, box cutters, a belt, pole, fire extinguisher (to spray or hit with) etc.
  • Throw items (chairs, laptops, books, staplers, etc.)
  • Continue to engage until the shooter is no longer a threat


When Law Enforcement Arrives:


Law Enforcement’s response in most cases is to confront the shooter ASAP. This pushes the individual(s) to either barricade themselves, shoot themselves when time has run out, or to provoke a shootout, all better options than the individual(s) remaining free and continuing to shoot innocent victims. 

  •  Police may arrive in small units/teams; they may wear regular uniforms or be in full duty response gear with rifles, shotguns, shields and other heavy-duty gear.
  • Responding officers are in full combat mode, when they arrive, they are not looking to immediately help you nor will they be assisting injured individuals, they are looking to contain the situation.

 In Response to Law Enforcement’s Arrival:

  • Follow their instructions
  • Try and remain calm
  • You may be searched
  • Raise your hands and spread your fingers- always keeping your hands visible (even a cell phone may be mistaken as a weapon)
  • Avoid making quick and sudden actions towards the officers
  • Avoid pointing screaming or yelling
  • All easy to say to do and again requires so forethought and mental preparation

 Information Law Enforcement May Ask You

  • The location of the shooter(s)
  • The description of the shooters
  • The number and type of weapons observed
  • The number of potential victims
  • Other observations you may have witnessed that will assist them at the time


Public Safety’s Role

  • Public Safety is not armed and will not respond in the same way as Law Enforcement
  • Public Safety will respond and take a support role to assist in as many ways possible
  • When the area is safe, we will send out alerts and check all the buildings in the affected area.