Actions to Take When There is an Active Shooter

The term Active Shooter is fairly new in the lexicon of crime. It became popular in the past decade as a way of quickly describing situations where a person or persons was in the area, armed and intent on doing harm. Over the years, active shooter incidents have included shootings at post offices, schools, offices, factories and public gatherings.

One of the hardest lessons learned about active shooters over the years is that they typically accomplish what they want very quickly. Standard police procedures that called for surrounding the property and bringing in hostage negotiators have been found to be inappropriate in most cases. The new guidance for law enforcement is to respond immediately with whatever resources exist.

Unless their actions are truly spur of the moment, active shooters typically have a plan and a vision about how their actions will progress.  The idea situation for them is for victims to be cowering in the floor and waiting as easy targets. The advice by security experts is to do everything but wait as a target.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, actions to take when there is an active shooter are to:

  1. Run – leave belongings behind and keep hands visible
  2. Hide – in an area out of the view of the shooter. Barricade yourself in.
  3. Fight – if cornered, act with aggressiveness. Throw things, yell and scream.
    • The alternative is to wait and be shot
    • Most shooters never expect this reaction
    • Active resistance in a situation like this can save your life

When police arrive, the best advice is to lie down with hands visible. Announce “friend” and tell them where the criminal went.

For additional information:

Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute goes directly to the training video

The website offers an independent study course entitled Active Shooter:What You Can Do. Additional materials, including booklets, pamphlets and posters are also available from the website covering:

  • Profile of an active shooter;
  • Responding to an active shooter or other workplace violence situation;
  • Training for an active shooter situation and creating an emergency action plan; and
  • Tips for recognizing signs of potential workplace violence.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

6 minute on-line video.

Alice Training Institute

ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) provides training to prepare individuals to handle the threat of an Active Shooter. ALICE teaches individuals to participate in their own survival, while leading others to safety.

To discuss specific concerns about security at your workplace, contact us at rsk.mgmt@phmic.comcreate new email

Michael L. Warren | ARM, OHST | Risk Manager