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Emergency Response Guide: Active Shooter



Many resources have been developed by other government and academic institutions to inform the public on what they should do to improve their chances of survival during an Active Shooter situation. Here are a few:

Booklet: “Active Shooter: How to Respond,” produced by the Department of Homeland Security.

Video: “Run, Hide, Fight,” developed by California State University. The video was produced at the end of 2017 with input from campus police chiefs at CSU.

Video: “RUN, HIDE, or FIGHT,” a grant-funded project of the Regional Catastrophic Planning Initiative from the Department of Homeland Security that includes instructions for the workplace. It was produced by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Active Shooter Response

In the aftermath of many mass shootings around the country, it is imperative that we provide students, staff, and faculty with information on how to respond during potentially violent criminal attacks on campus.

What is an active shooter?

An active shooter is described as a person who causes death or serious bodily injury through the use of a firearm. This is a dynamic situation that usually progresses rapidly and demands an immediate response from law enforcement officers to terminate the life-threatening situation.

The role of police officers

The immediate response of the first law enforcement officers on the scene is to take aggressive action to find and stop the shooter or shooters. The New York City Police Department will be the first to respond to the scene. As they move into the affected area, rescue efforts will be delayed until the shooter is located and stopped or no longer a threat to life therefore if you are wounded or with someone who is wounded, these officers will bypass you to search for the shooter and stop the killing. Rescue teams will follow shortly to aid you and others.

The first responding police officers will normally be in teams of four. They may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external bulletproof vests, helmets, and other tactical equipment. The police officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns and might be using pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.

How you can best assist the police

Regardless of how police officers appear, remain calm, do as the officers tell you, and do not be afraid of them.

  • Put down any bags or packages you may be carrying and keep your hands visible at all times.
  • If you know where the shooter is and/or have the shooter’s description, tell the police officers.
  • Stay calm and patient during this time, and do not interfere with police operations.
  • Wait for the rescue teams to follow shortly after the first responding officers enter the building. They will attend to the injured and remove everyone safely from the area.

Active Shooter Procedures

Before something happens

Before any emergency occurs, become familiar with the buildings you frequent. Make sure you have an escape route and plan ahead for how you could respond.

If the shooter is outside your building
  • Remain calm
  • Turn off all lights, close and lock windows and doors, close blinds
  • Barricade doors if not lockable
  • Warn others, if possible and safe to do so
  • Get yourself and others on the floor and attempt to hide behind/under something
  • If safe to do so, move to a core area of the building and lock/barricade yourself in a room
  • Silence radios, cell phones and other devices; remain silent
  • Call 911 and Security as soon as safely possible
  • Remain in place until given the all clear by an identifiable police or security officer
If the shooter is inside your building
  • Remain calm
  • If safely possible, flee the area
  • If not safe to flee, lock/barricade yourself in a room
  • Turn off lights and hide under/behind furniture—stay low to the floor
  • Remain silent, silence radios and cell phones
  • Call 911 and Security as soon as safely possible
  • Remain in place until given the all clear by an identifiable police or security officer
If the shooter enters your office/classroom
  • There is no right answer for this scenario—response must be based on variables related to the situation, shooter and your own intuitions and common sense
  • Remain calm
  • Call 911 and Security as soon as safely possible
  • If possible, flee the area
  • Negotiating may work
  • “Playing dead” may work
  • Attempting to overcome the suspect with force is always the last resort which should only be considered in extreme circumstances. Only you can decide if this is something you should do.
If you are outside
  • Remain calm
  • Move away from the active shooter and/or sounds of gunshots
  • Warn others to take immediate cover
  • Look for appropriate cover/protection (brick walls, retaining walls, large trees, parked cars, etc)
  • Remain silent; silence cell phones
  • Call 911 and Security as soon as safely possible
Points to remember
  • There may be more than one (1) shooter
  • Do not touch anything in the area, as it is a crime scene
  • Prepare a plan of action in advance—predetermine possible escape routes for yourself, and always know where exits are located
  • When fleeing, get as far away from the shooting scene as quickly and safely possible—do not take/carry anything with you
Police response and you
  • Police will quickly respond to the area in which shots were last heard and attempt to immediately engage/contain the active shooter
  • First arriving officers will not stop to assist the injured or evacuate personnel
  • Remain calm
  • Do exactly as police tell you
  • Keep your hands empty and visible at all times
  • If you know where the shooter is, quickly tell the officers
  • DO NOT get in the way of officers
Unfamiliar Voices

Unfamiliar voices may be the shooter attempting to lure victims from their safe space. Do not respond to any voice commands until you can verify the source to be a police officer, Campus Security officer or a campus administrator you know.