How to Respond to an Active Shooter

You are walking down the hall at work and you see someone with a gun. How should you respond?

Let’s first define active shooter. The United States Department of Homeland Security defines active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”

Active shooters embark on these acts of violence for different reasons including but not limited to:

  • Problems at work
  • Problems in a relationship
  • Victim of bullying
  • Vengeance
  • A need for attention

So, how should you respond?

Three Responses to an Active Shooter

First – Evacuate (RUN)

Your first response should be to run. Escape through the nearest exit. As you exit a building, find a safe location. Trying to drive off the premises may cause traffic congestion. The law enforcement needs easy access to the parking areas.

Second – Hide Out (HIDE)

If you cannot escape from the building, hide in an area out of the shooter’s view such as a safe room or a locked office. Block entry to your hiding place and make sure the door is locked. Silence your cell phone.

Third – Take Action (FIGHT)

bully_picking_fight_400_clr_11656Only if confronted directly as a last resort when your life is in imminent danger, fight. Attempt to incapacitate the shooter. Act with physical aggression – throw items, yell loudly, and commit to the effort. Moving people are harder to shoot.

Call 911

Once you are in a safe location, call 911. The operator will want to know:

  • Your location
  • Location of the shooter
  • Number of shooters
  • Physical description
  • Number of types of weapons
  • Number of potential victims


U.S. Department of Homeland Security