Media Name: car-1531277_1920.jpg

How to Respond When An Active Shooter Is In Your Vicinity

An active shooter is an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In most cases, the situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes—before law enforcement arrives on the scene—individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to respond to an active shooter situation.

Even if the company is able to resume its operations after an active shooter incident, recovery can take an extensive amount of time. To recover from a shooting, organizations should make continuity planning, personnel issues and communication strategies top priorities. In this guide, we’ll share recommendations from experts about what organizations can do to recover from an active shooter incident.

How to Respond When An Active Shooter Is In Your Vicinity
In the event that an active shooter is in the vicinity, remember that employees are likely to follow the lead of management, and customers are likely to follow the lead of employees. The Department of Homeland Security makes the following recommendations:

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

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Leave your belongings behind. Managers or individuals responsible for your company’s emergency preparedness kit should grab it on the way out only if doing so doesn’t put them in further danger.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible so the shooter does not see you as an immediate threat.
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

2. Hide Out
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should have the following characteristics:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provides protection if shots are fired in your direction (e.g., an office with a closed, locked door)
  • Doesn’t trap you or restrict your options for movement

You should also take some basic steps to prevent a shooter from noticing your presence or entering your hiding place:

  • Lock any doors, if possible.
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture.
  • Silence your cellphone.
  • Turn off any source of noise (e.g., radios or televisions).
  • Hide behind large items (e.g., cabinets or desks).
  • Remain as quiet as possible.

If evacuation and hiding are not possible:

  • Remain calm.
  • Dial 911 to alert police to the active shooter’s location, if possible.
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

3. Take Action Against the Shooter as a Last Resort
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and or incapacitate the active shooter by doing the following:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible toward him or her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions

Download the full guide for additional information on how to work with law enforcement when they arrive, how to best communicate in the wake of an incident, and how you can learn from the experience and better protect your organization for the future. 



This guide is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.
© 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.