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3 Steps to Protect Yourself from an Active Shooter

- September 27, 2017 by Robert Harrington (View all posts by Robert)

A business continuity plan, emergency action plan and natural disaster preparedness, are often considered as part of the overall operational risk management plan of a company. Sadly, in today’s environment we should consider the implementation of active shooter program.  This program and employee training should become part of your overall preparedness plan. Education in the workplace on how to handle an active shooter event is important.  The Federal Bureau of Investigations has identified over 160 active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2015.

Active shooter and workplace violence events are on the rise but there are things you can do to lessen their impact if an event were to occur. The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency advises these three steps:

STEP #1 Escape 

Determine the best course of action to protect yourself and others around you

    • If escape is an option – use the closest escape route and have a backup in case your original route is blocked
    • Evacuate your yourself and Help others to try to leave as well – do not try to convince others to follow
    • Leave your personal items
    • Move to a safe place outside and away from the area and call 911
    • Prevent others from entering the building

STEP #2 – Evade

If you are unable to escape find a place to hide

      • Look for a place out of the view of the shooter(s)
      • Get behind something large to shield your body
      • Do not stay in an area if it prevents escape if the situation is presented
      • Lock the door if not barricade it with any heavy furniture
      • Place your cell phone on silent, if possible call 911

When calling 911 give them as much details as possible including:

        • Your name, the address where the shooting is occurring (try to remain calm)
        • Possible Location of the active shooter
        • Number of shooters, if more than one
        • Physical description of shooter/s Number, clothing / apparel and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
        • Number of potential victims at the location

STEP #3 – Engage (last resort)

If your life is in immediate danger, the last resort may be to disrupt or immobilize the shooter

          • Be aggressive with the shooter
          • Yell at the shooter
          • Throw items or improvise weapons to use against the shooter


Law enforcement’s first goal is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible and will proceed directly to the area of the last shots. Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety when law enforcement arrives remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions. Put down any items in your hands and keep your hands raised and spread your fingers.  Keep hands visible at all times and avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety. Evacuate in the direction from which officers are entering do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating. Once outside stay quiet and listen to the commands of law enforcement.

For more information, check out FEMA’s “IS-907: Active Shooter: What you can do,” web-based class at no charge.