What to do in the event of an active shooter
by Mike Warren
August 2, 2017

The term “active shooter” is fairly new in the lexicon of crime. It became popular during 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 the resources available.

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 ideal situation for them is for victims to be cowering in the floor and waiting as easy targets. The advice issued 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 an active shooter situation may save your life and the lives of others.

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

For additional information:

Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute


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
  • Tips for recognizing signs of potential workplace violence

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The FBI website offers a six-minute video on run-hide-fight techniques.

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 risk.mgmt@phmic.com.

This article originally appeared on phmic.com. It has been edited for style.