Run, Hide, Fight
If it is safe to do so, the first course of action that should be taken is to run out of the building and move far away until you are in a safe location. Students and staff should:
- Leave personal belongings behind;
- Visualize possible escape routes, including physically accessible routes for students and staff with disabilities and others with access and functional needs;
- Avoid escalators and elevators;
- Take others with them but not to stay behind because others will not go;
- Call 911 when safe to do so; and
- Let a responsible adult know where they are.
If running is not a safe option, hide in as safe a place as possible. Students and staff should hide in a location where the walls might be thicker and have fewer windows. In addition:
- Lock the doors;
- Barricade the doors with heavy furniture;
- Close and lock windows, and close blinds or cover windows;
- Turn off lights;
- Silence all electronic devices;
- Remain silent;
- Use strategies to silently communicate with first responders if possible, (e.g., in rooms with exterior windows make signs to silently signal law enforcement and emergency responders to indicate the status of the room’s occupants);
- Hide along the wall closest to the exit but out of the view from the hallway (allowing for an ambush of the shooter and for possible escape if the shooter enters the room); and
- Remain in place until given an all clear by identifiable law enforcement.
If neither running nor hiding is a safe option, as a last resort when confronted by the shooter, adults in immediate danger should consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers, chairs, etc. In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement arrived, the potential victims stopped the attacker themselves in 16 instances. In 13 of those cases, they physically subdued the attacker.
First Responder Response
Staff should understand and expect that law enforcement’s first priority must be to locate and stop the person or persons believed to be the shooter(s); all other actions are secondary. One comprehensive study found that in more than half (57 percent) of active shooter incidents where a solo officer arrived on the scene, shooting was still underway when the officer arrived. In 75 percent of those instances, that solo officer had to confront the perpetrator to end the threat.
Students and staff should cooperate and not to interfere with first responders. When law enforcement arrives, students and staff must display empty hands with open palms. Law enforcement may instruct everyone to place their hands on their heads, or they may search individuals.