Active Shooter Events - Facts and Actions

Active Shooter

Active shooter events are on the rise across our country, with a record number occurring in 2017 according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – and these events are not limited to schools or any one geographic area.

In the last two full calendar years (2016-17), 50 active shooter events have taken place across 21 of 50 states, resulting in 943 casualties (221 deaths, 772 injuries). The shootings took place in public and private business environments, educational institutions, government properties, private residences, houses of worship and healthcare facilities – one incident even occurred on a bus.

What should you do, or what should you be teaching and training your workers, colleagues and family to do, in the event of an active shooter incident where you are?

The Department of Homeland Security provides a section of their website devoted to “Hometown Security”.  Information includes active shooter preparedness, school safety and security, and many downloadable tools and resources.  As shown in the tips below, preparing for the worst is the best course of action to take.  Like most emergency safety training, this prepares individuals and organizations for the event we all hope never happens. 

  • Connect: Reach out and develop relationships in your community, including local law enforcement. Having these relationships established before an incident occurs can help speed up the response when something happens.
  • Plan: Take the time now to plan on how you will handle a security event should one occur. Learn from other events to inform your plans
  • Train: Provide your employees with training resources and exercise your plans often. The best laid plans must be exercised in order to be effective.
  • Report: “If You See Something, Say Something” is more than just a slogan. Call local law enforcement.

Located within the Hometown Security program there is an information network for critical infrastructure.  This is a platform for businesses to connect and communicate with each other to deal with potential threats, such as active shooter events and more, and keep their employees and customers safe. This program includes DHS Protective Security Advisors (PSA) located in field offices around the country that will assist “Critical Infrastructure” businesses in evaluating their vulnerability to a number of potential threats and the steps to take to improve overall security.

In addition, businesses that want to prepare more for potentially violent events such as an active shooter can find emergency action plan video training, a program guide, and a fillable template.  

Many local and state police departments can also provide free training and/or consultation for businesses looking to improve their security systems.  Establishing these relationships and learning from local law enforcement partners can be invaluable.

Should the unthinkable occur, according to the Department of Homeland Security, in the event of an active shooter, you have three options: Run; Hide; or Fight.

  1. Run
    • Have an escape route and plan in mind
    • Leave your belongings behind
    • Keep your hands visible
    • Call 911 when you are safe
  2. Hide
    • Hide in an area out of the shooters view
    • Block entry to your hiding place
    • Silence your cell phone
  3. Fight
  • Fight as a last resort and only when you are in imminent danger
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter
  • Commit to your actions… your life depends on it

The resources from DHS referenced above can be accessed via these links:   Active Shooter Event Quick Reference Guide, Active Shooter Pocket Card,  Active Shooter Emergency Action Plan Video, and Active Shooter Emergency Action Plan Guide and Template.

 By David Darnley