How to Respond during an Active Shooter Incident

You are at work, buried in a stack of projects and deadlines, business as usual. As you sip your morning coffee and check your email, the silence is instantly shattered by the sound of gunshots and people screaming. Heads turn in the direction of the commotion as everyone begins to realize an active shooter incident is unfolding in your workplace. What do you do?

The FBI reports an average of 11.4 active shooter incidents per year from 2000 to 2013. A closer look reveals it is trending upward. The first 7 years of the study showed an annual average of 6.4 incidents while the last 7 years revealed an average of 16.4. 70% of these occurrences were in either commercial or educational locations. Is your office ready in the event that your company is next?

Consider these best practices to get you started:

When You Realize an Active Shooter is Present

First, remain calm and do not panic. If there are customers or clients present, they will tend to look to employees and managers for direction. You will need to quickly determine the best way to protect yourself. You only have 3 options.

  1. Run/Evacuate
    • If possible, this is the best option
    • Identify an escape route quickly
    • You are more important than your stuff. Leave belongings behind.
    • Remember to keep your hands in plain sight.
  2. Hide
  • Hide out of the active shooter’s sight.
  • Using furniture and items available, block entry to your hiding place.
  • Lock the doors and turn off the lights.
  • Turn your cell phone on silent (not vibrate) and remain quiet.
  • Wait for law enforcement to arrive.
  1. Fight/Take Action
    • This is the absolute last resort and only if your life is in imminent danger.
    • Arm yourself with makeshift weapons using available items.
    • Move quick and attempt to incapacitate the active shooter.
    • Use physical aggression and throw items at the shooter.

When it is safe to do so, call 911.

When Law Enforcement Arrives

Remain calm and do what they tell you. Immediately raise your hands with your fingers spread and keep your hands visible at all times. Do not make any sudden movements toward an officer even to hold on to them for safety. Avoid pointing, screaming, and yelling and simply allow the officers, who are trained professionals, to do their job. Instead of asking the officers for help or directions, simply proceed to evacuate in the direction from which the officers are entering the premises.

Information You Need to Provide to Law Enforcement or 911 Operator

  • Number and location of active shooter(s)
  • Physical description of shooter(s)
  • Number and type of weapons used by shooter(s)
  • Number of potential victims

Preparing Your Staff for an Active Shooter Incident

Preparing for an active shooter incident is a crucial part of your corporate security training. Your staff should be trained periodically so the procedures will be familiar to them if an incident occurs. This training should include what to do when an active shooter is present as well as how to recognize warning signs of potential workplace violence. USSS is experienced with active shooter situations and can help you develop an active shooter response plan for your workplace. For more information on how to respond to an active shooter incident and how you can prepare your staff now, Contact Us.