Active Shooter

How to Prepare for an Emergency – Active Shooter

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Active shooter incidents are usually unpredictable, last only 10 to 15 minutes, and are carried out by a single attacker using multiple firearms.

An overwhelming majority of shooters are male between the ages of 15 and 19 for school shootings, and 35 and 44 for incidents taking place at other types of facilities. Active shooters are often members of the community they target, although their selection of victims does not follow any specific pattern or method.


Understanding Active Shooter Incidents

  • Active shooter incidents are becoming more frequent.
  • All employees can help prevent and prepare for potential active shooter situations.
  • An active shooter is an individual killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.
  • Typically, there is no pattern in the selection of victims in an active shooter incident.
  • Common motives include, anger, revenge, ideology, and untreated mental illness.

Good Practices for Response Include:

If you suspect a potential active shooter situation, you must quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.

Always have an escape route and plan in mind even if you are just visiting. And, make sure to leave your belongings behind and keep your hands visible.

If evacuation is not possible, you should find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors. Use heavy items to barricade yourself if possible. And, remember to remain quiet and silence your cell phone or pager.

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, you should attempt to incapacitate the shooter by acting with physical aggression and throwing items at the active shooter. And, call 911 when it is safe to do so.

Call 911 WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO!


How To Respond

1. Evacuate: If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.

2. Hide out: If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.

3. Take action: As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter.

It is important for employees to be trained so that they can react if they are ever confronted with an active shooter situation. As these situations evolve quickly, quick decisions could mean the difference between life and death. If you are in harm’s way, you will need to decide rapidly what the safest course of action is based on the scenario that is unfolding before you.


Evacuate

If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  • Warn individuals not to enter an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people.
  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so.

Hide Out

If safe evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.

Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view.
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door).
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement.
To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:
  • Lock the door.
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture.
  • Close, cover, and move away from windows.

Keeping Yourself Safe While Hiding

If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door.
  • Silence your cell phone and/or pager. (Even the vibration setting can give away a hiding position.)
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks).
  • Remain quiet.

Consider the difference between cover and concealment. Cover will protect from gunfire and concealment will merely hide you from the view of the shooter. Choose the best space that is available quickly.


When Evacuation and Hiding Are Not Possible

When possible, provide the following information to law enforcement officers or 911 operators:

  • Location of the active shooter.
  • Number of shooters, if more than one.
  • Physical description of the shooter(s).
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s).
  • Number of potential victims at the location.
Take Action

As an absolute last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter. Act as aggressively as possible against him/her, throw items and improvise weapons, yell, and be sure to commit to your actions.


Additional Resources


Run, Hide, Fight: Surviving an Active Shooter Event