How to Prepare Your Organization for an Active Shooter

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

Law enforcement is often minutes away when an active shooter situations erupts with little to no warning.

Police typically arrive within 10 to 15 minutes, so individuals who are trapped need to be mentally and physically ready to respond. They need to size up the situation in order to save their lives.

The Department of Homeland Security has three easy-to-remember words to recall during an active shooter situation to help you survive: Run. Hide. Fight.

RUN for your life

If an escape route is accessible, individuals should try to exit a building that is under siege. Consider the following tips:

- Size up the situation, look for an escape route, and create a plan.

- Evacuate even if others do not agree to follow.

- Abandon your belongings — just get out!

- Help others escape, if possible.

- Alert others where the active shooter may be (i.e., stay away).

- Show your hands as you exit.

- Listen to any instructions given by law enforcement.

- Don’t attempt to move the wounded.

- Call 911 when you are safe.

A nightmare game of HIDE and seek

If you are unable to evacuate, hide in a spot where the active shooter may not find you. The best place to hide is:

- Out of the active shooter’s view.

- A location that will shield you in the event shots are fired in your direction.

An example would be an office with the door closed. Avoid a location that traps you or restricts your options for movement. If in a room, create a barricade to the best of your ability. Your only option may be a locked door, but if possible, blockade the door with heavy furniture.

If the active shooter is nearby, lock the door and do everything possible to hide your whereabouts by:

- Hiding behind large items such as cabinets and desks.

- Being as quiet as possible. 

To ensure quiet, remember to:

- Silence your cell phone or other personal electronic device.

- Turn off any other source of noise (e.g., radio, television).

If circumstances make it impossible to evacuate or hide, try to remain calm. By keeping your wits, you may be able to alert authorities of the attack by dialing 911. If you are unable to speak, leave the phone line open for the police dispatch to hear the happenings.

FIGHT only as a last resort

Challenging an active shooter should be a last resort — only when your life is in imminent danger.

Once you attempt to take on the active shooter, there is no turning back. You are committed to your actions. It will require yelling and acting as aggressively as you can against the shooter. Considering the environment, you may have to throw items and improvise on weapons.

Interacting with law enforcement

Be prepared to provide the following information to authorities if you are able to call 911 or when police arrive at the scene:

- Location and number of the active shooters.

- Physical description of shooter(s).

- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s).

- Number of potential victims at the location.

Individuals need to distinguish themselves from the shooter when police arrive by:

- Putting down anything in their hands, such as bags or jackets.Immediately raising hands and spreading fingers.

- Hands need to be visible at all times.

Quick movements may be seen as a threat, so avoid such actions, and do not hold on to officers for safety. And, do not draw attention to yourself or enforcement by pointing, screaming or yelling when you see the police.

Training employees

One of the first steps in developing an active shooter training program is to incorporate the topic into your emergency action plan (EAP). Between the EAP and training exercises, your employees will hopefully have the necessary skills to respond appropriately to an active shooter.

EAPs should be created based on the suggestions from multiple departments in the company. The plan should discuss:

- How to report emergencies.

- Evacuation policy and procedures.

- Emergency escape routes.

- Communication within the organization.

As far as training, the best way to prepare your company is to conduct mock active shooter exercises. De Angelis & Associates may be a resource in designing the exercise.

Consider training employees on how to:

- Recognize and react to the sound of gunshots.

- React to someone being shot.

- Interact with law enforcement during the crisis.

Run. Hide. Fight. materials should be presented and discussed in relation to your facility and operation. The ultimate goal of the training is to instill a survival mentality in your employees.

De Angelis & Associates | Security Consulting Group


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