The following is the agreed-upon definition of an active shooter by U.S. government agencies including the White House, U.S. Department of Justice/FBI, U.S. Department of Education, and Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency:
Profile of an Active Shooter
An Active Shooter is “an individual(s) actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a . . . populated area.” In most cases of mass casualty attacks, the actors use firearm(s), but it is important to be aware that other weapons are sometimes used such as explosives and cutting instruments.
Active shooter incidents are usually unpredictable and the situations evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims.
- Since most active shooter situations are often over within 5 minutes before local law enforcement arrives, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation. Civilians will often have to make life and death decisions, and, therefore, should be engaged in training and discussion on decisions they may face.
How to Respond When an Active Shooter Is In Your Vicinity
The DHS recommended survival techniques you follow should be fluid based on the threat, your location and your individual circumstances. Therefore, note that the order of the techniques can be modified. RUN/HIDE/FIGHT
Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation.
- RUN Evacuate
- If there is an accessible escape route, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:
- Have an escape route and plan in mind
- Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
- Leave your belongings behind
- Help others escape, if possible
- Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
- Keep your hands visible
- Follow the instructions of any police officers
- Do not attempt to move wounded people
- Call 911 when you are safe
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.
Your hiding place should:
- Be out of the active shooter’s view
- Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed door and locked door)
- Not trap you or restrict your options for movement
To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:
- Lock the door
- Blockade the door with heavy furniture
If the active shooter is nearby:
- Lock the door
- Silence your cell phone and/or pager
- Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
- Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
- Remain quiet If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
- Remain calm
- Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location
- If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen
- FIGHT Take action against the active shooter
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
- Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
- Throwing items and improvising weapons
- Committing to your actions
1.1.1 General Response Guidelines to a Report of an Active Shooter
During a report of an Active Shooter incident, and when safe to do so, each tenant will be instructed via a PA Announcement or mass notification alert to implement their company’s Active Shooter policy.
PA Announcement – Whenever possible and safe to do so, an announcement will be made over the fire alarm PA system. Below is a sample script emergency notification when the active shooter is inside the building:
“An active shooter has entered the building; he was last seen on the 3rd floor of the building. Please implement your company’s active shooter response plan based on your location and stand by for further notifications.”
Active Shooter Inside the Building
- The building’s Fire Safety/Security/EAP Director will inform the occupants of the building to implement and maintain their company’s Active Shooter incident policy until the shooter can be isolated or is immediately stopped by responding law enforcement officers.
Active Shooter Outside the Building
- Lobby Area - In order to protect the occupants within the lobby area, the building’s Fire Safety/Security/EAP Director will initiate a lock down of the lobby and have lobby occupants relocate to a safe area until the shooter(s) can be isolated or is immediately stopped by responding law enforcement officers.
- Rest of the Building (above and below grade areas) - The building’s Fire Safety/Security/EAP Director will initiate a Shelter-in-Place Emergency Action Plan response for the remainder of the building occupants informing them of the situation via a PA announcement.
- Once more information is provided and confirmed i.e., location of shooter(s) direction of flight, the building’s Fire Safety/Security/EAP Director will provide the occupants of the building with an update of the situation.
- To the extent that the FS/Security/EAP Director has actionable information, he/she will inform the occupants of the building of what is actually going on, where it is happening, and what part of the EAP Plan the building will be implementing and provide frequent status updates.
Unlike fire emergencies, the Fire Safety/Security/EAP Director is NOT required to recall all the passenger elevators. The Fire Safety/Security/EAP Director will act based on available information including the building‘s infrastructure and the reported location and movement of the threat before deciding where to position the elevators.
Fire Alarm Pull Stations
As a general guideline, tenants should NOT pull the manual fire alarms due to the fact that this may automatically unlock the stairway re-entry doors and recall the elevators to the lobby. This could potentially give wider access to an active shooter and in the case of an elevator lobby recall, deliver tenants into a potentially unsafe location.