Active Shooter Policy: Preparing Your Staff for an Active Shooter

While nobody wants to envision an active shooter on their work premises, it's important your team be prepared for the unthinkable.



Recent active shooter events are solemn reminders for employers everywhere to not let their guard down. Although these situations seem unthinkable, it’s important for your business to be prepared with an Emergency Action Plan and to conduct regular training.

Creating an Active Shooter Emergency Action Plan

The first step to preparing for an active shooter is to create an Emergency Action Plan. This is a comprehensive plan that outlines details like escape routes and contact information for any type of emergency. It should include:

  • A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies
  • An evacuation policy and procedure
  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments (e.g., floor plans or safe areas)
  • Contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under the Emergency Action Plan
  • Information concerning local area hospitals (e.g., the name, telephone number and distance from your location)
  • An emergency notification system to alert various parties of an emergency such as:
    • Individuals at remote locations within premises
    • Local law enforcement
    • Local area hospitals

When compiling this information, please consult with your property manager, local emergency responders, facility owners or operators, and HR.

Training Exercises for an Active Shooter

Most active shooter situations are over within 10-15 minutes, making it critical for employees to be prepared mentally and physically. The best way to train staff for an active shooter is to conduct mock scenario exercises. (Tip: contact local law enforcement for help with designing training exercises.)

Not only do employees need to recognize the sound of gunshots, but they also need to quickly determine which of the following actions they should take for the mock scenario [source]:

1. Run

In the event of an active shooter, the first and best option is to evacuate the premises, assuming there is an accessible escape path. Be sure to:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind (discuss this during training).
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Leave your belongings.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible to help law enforcement distinguish if you are a threat.
  • Follow the instructions of police officers.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people.
  • Call 911 when you are safe. Be sure to give your location right away if calling on a mobile phone, as 911 calls from a cell phone only give a general location.

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2. Hide

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 (for example, an office with a closed and locked door); and
  • Not trap or restrict your options for movement.

 To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door.
  • Turn out the light.
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture.

If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door.
  • Silence your cell phone, pager, or anything that may ring.
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e. radios, televisions) that may indicate you are there.
  • Hide behind large items (i.e. cabinets, desks).
  • Remain quiet.

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:

  • Remain calm.
  • Dial or text 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. Turn the speaker volume down completely to keep any dispatcher noises from being heard.

3. Fight

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;
  • Throwing items and utilizing office equipment as improvised weapons;
  • Yelling to intimidate the killer; and
  • Committing to your actions – once you decide to fight, follow through with your plan.

Be sure to designate an emergency meeting place outside of your office or workplace for employees to go in the event of an active shooter. Incorporate reminders of this meeting place during safety trainings.

For more information, please contact your certified HR rep. Not a current client? Book a consultation and our team will contact you shortly!

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