Tag: active shooter

Respond to an Active Shooter


Ready to head back into society after the pandemic?

Planning an outing to a favorite shopping street for the first time in months? A big family picnic in the park for the 4th of July? Looking forward to getting back to the office? If you’re like me, you probably are spending time just imagining how great it will be to be with people again! If you’re like me, you are also taking some time to think about personal safety in these crowd settings. In particular, you’re thinking about how you would respond to an active shooter.

The huge upsurge in shootings over the past year just can’t be ignored.

Can you prevent an active shooter event?  No.

Can you protect yourself from being a victim? Possibly. But only if you know WHAT TO DO and you DO IT IMMEDIATELY.

What’s the latest intel on active shooters?

I just attended two webinars on the topic of active shooter events, one from a commercial security firm and the other sponsored through FEMA. I looked at the latest statistics and reviewed the latest “best practices.” Interestingly enough, the people doing the shooting are pretty much the same: 98% men.

How police respond has changed dramatically. (As the security guy said, “The first officer to show up will be coming in running . . .”) Weapons have become more deadly. And the number of shootings is increasing.

How to protect yourself, though, hasn’t changed much. But that won’t do you any good if you haven’t prepared.

It’s time to prepare emotionally and review just how we would respond.

“I just lay there, waiting for my turn to die.”

I first read that statement after the events that took place at Virginia Tech way back in 2007.  You will remember that the shooter entered several classrooms and simply shot all the students one after another.  Then he came back and shot them again. The quote is from one of the girls who survived.

What is shocking is that this same quote has been repeated more than once in similar situations! Faced with an active shooter, some people seem to become like sheep! I was outraged and dismayed by the quote, and determined that Emergency Plan Guide readers would never respond this way!

So, what’s your plan?

Start now working on situational awareness.

In our Mini-book on Personal Safety, we describe a half-dozen “exercises” you can practice — alone or with your kids – that will up your readiness. The exercises almost all have to do with what’s called “situational awareness.” That is, noticing what other people are doing, noting where entrances, exits and potential hiding places are, and thinking and talking about “What would we do if . . .?”

Since Active shooter events are almost always over within 10 minutes – sometimes before the police even arrive — what counts is what you do within the first minutes or seconds. The faster you realize that something is wrong or out of place, the faster you’ll be able to act. Situational awareness is what gives you that edge.

Then, it’s good to know what to do to respond. Here are three resources I hope you’ll put to use starting immediately. Share them with your family, groups you belong to, and at work. You’ll come out with a better idea of how to respond if you encounter an active shooter.

Step One — Watch the video: Run – Hide – Fight

The original Run-Hide-Fight video was produced in 2012 by the City of Houston. We have shown the video multiple times to different audiences. They are always taken aback even though it’s a staged production. It lasts only 5 minutes but will generate important comments and questions. Here’s the link to YouTube: https://youtu.be/5VcSwejU2D0 (Be ready to skip the ads at the beginning.)

Step Two — Watch the video: Options for Consideration – Active Shooter Preparedness

The Department of Homeland Security produced this video in 2019. It’s about 7 minutes long. I didn’t find it as powerful as the Run-Hide-Fight, nor is the quality as good. What is good, though, is to observe how long it takes the people in the video to respond to the sound of gunfire! And it has some more good ideas about hiding. You could watch both videos at the same meeting.

Link to the DHS website where you can view the video: https://www.dhs.gov/cisa/options-consideration-active-shooter-preparedness-video

Step Three — Download: “Active Shooter – How to Respond”

This is a 13-page pdf from the Department of Homeland Security. You can use it in many different ways — as study material for a discussion, as a guide for a quiz, material for a flyer, etc. Since you’re here right now, though, here are some highlights taken from all three of these resources to get you started.

And now, some specifics.


If you hear gunshots, don’t stop and ask, “Hey, do you think that’s gunshots? Maybe it’s just fireworks? Or is it a car backfiring?” If you see a shooter, or see people running, don’t just stand there looking for the source of the noise or action! You need to get away from the shooter and any stray bullets!

  • Have two different escape routes figured out – at all times! First may be back the way you came in. But if that route is blocked, or the shooter has come in behind you, you need an escape route that takes you out another way. Maybe it’s through the kitchen of the restaurant, out the loading area of a grocery store, out a marked emergency exit. Always keep a lookout for alternative exits wherever you are.
  • Leave your stuff behind – purse, backpack, computer, etc. You can’t run with your arms full of packages.
  • Get out even if others don’t seem to want to. But don’t allow people to head INTO danger if you can help it.
  • Call 911 when you can. Give as much information as you can to dispatch: who, where, how many, etc.


The shooter is in a hurry. He wants to injure or kill as many people as possible. He knows he will probably die before it’s all over. So he’s looking for easy targets. If you can hide, and he doesn’t know or suspect you are there, he’s likely to move on. So, how to hide?

  • Get into a room with a door you can lock or block. Reinforce by pulling furniture in front of the door. (Remember that scene in the Capitol where furniture kept insurrectionists from breaking into the House Chamber?)
  • Turn out lights. Pull blinds or otherwise block the view into your room. You don’t want to draw any attention to your hiding space.
  • Get behind heavy furniture as protection from stray bullets.
  • Be quiet – really quiet. That means turning off radios and computers, and SILENCING your phone, not just putting it on vibrate.


If the shooter is so close to you that you can’t run or hide, your only option is to fight for your life! Yes, you may be injured. But you may also save many lives that otherwise would surely be lost.

  • Attack means attack! Scream and yell aggressively and dramatically! Move rapidly!
  • Create chaos! Throw stuff to hurt and disorient the shooter. Computers, chairs, lamps, a pot of coffee, your purse, books, a fire extinguisher. Anything can become an effective missile.
  • Gang up and attack as a pack! Some people can go for the shooter’s legs, others for his body. The sheer weight of several people can overwhelm one individual. You may be able to hold him down until authorities arrive.
  • Commit . . . and don’t quit.

And here’s one more exceedingly simple suggestion – When you get back to work or to school, take a look at the doors of the rooms you use. Can they be locked to keep out a shooter?

You may not be able to harden door frames or replace locks. But for sure you could make sure every inward-opening door is equipped with a simple rubber door stop! Shooters are looking for easy victims; if a door appears to be locked or is too hard to open they will go on to the next one.

I found this commercial door stop at Amazon. It’s meant to block doors with an up to 1 ½ inch gap.

Shepherd Hardware 9133 Door Stop, 1-Pack, Brown

At a cost of less than $5, I would buy one for every non-secure door in my building!

Be ready to take action. Train family members and neighbors, too. This is life-saving information.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Active Shooter in the School


Escape From Danger in the Classroom

Run from classroom

Get this video at the link below


If you don’t find time to read this entire Advisory, please take the time to note and to WATCH one or all of the three videos at this school site. Here’s the link


Each video is on how to respond to an active shooter event in school. One of the videos is for elementary school classes, one for intermediate, one for high school. Each video is about 11 minutes long.

As a teacher, parent, and even as a student, you will find these videos valuable. They were made by the Santa Ana Unified School District (CA). They will give you a basic understanding of what you can do that may save lives.

Strong emotional reaction to a disaster

We’ve found that it’s usually pretty easy to talk or write about preparing for a natural disaster. After all, while ice storms or floods may be dangerous, they aren’t usually associated with evil or diabolic intent.

Of course, when the storm hits, people may experience fear. But preparation can help them get past that fear and start taking actions they know make sense.

When it comes to human-caused violence, or terrorism, though, like what happened on Valentine’s Day in Florida, people react differently. When we think of a person “out to get us,” we may feel fear, but we may also respond with violent anger – at the terrorist, at the terrorist’s family or tribe, at the police or military who are supposed to protect us.

Any of these emotions may help us get past the denial, the shock and numbness that also may accompany the disaster – but what then?

My own emotions have made me address this issue today.

Rather than rage helplessly, I want to share some ways to channel emotions for my own health and perhaps to help others. It comes down to being prepared with a plan.

Having a PLAN can channel emotions and save your life

This week we’ve seen a terrifying example of a terrorist action – the mass shooting of high school students and teachers in Florida. Thanks to on-the-scene video coverage we’ve seen fear – and horror.

Those early student videos also showed how emergency planning and practice saved lives at that school.

Law enforcement’s plan for an Active Shooter

Over the past few years police tactics for handling active shooters have changed. A dozen years ago, police called to a shooter event waited for reinforcements and collected all the facts of the situation before coming up with their plan.

But, since most active shooter evens are over in less than 7 minutes, waiting “to make a plan” makes no sense.

So today, the role of the police is a lot simpler. The first officers to arrive find, engage and stop the shooter as quickly as possible.

The school’s plan for an Active Shooter

In Florida, we also saw that students and teachers knew how to react. And while some students were killed before the plan could be fully activated, many were able to take the actions they had practiced, and save their lives.

I wanted to know what the situation is here in my own town.

Results of my informal quiz

Over the past few days I’ve quizzed several neighborhood children about the drills they have in their schools.

  • The first graders were very vague. Yes, there were drills. With the exception of fire drills, the children were not sure what the drills were for.
  • Middle school children were more definitive. Yes, they said, they had drills. Some enumerated fire drills, earthquake drills, and “lockdown drills,” but some didn’t distinguish. None of the children recognized the expression “active shooter.” They didn’t recognize the expression “Code Red.”
  • High school students – who had actually been locked down three months ago in a potential crime situation at their school – were pretty knowledgeable. They knew about Florida and active shooter was certainly in their vocabulary.

“Closing up the room and keeping away from the windows” didn’t seem adequate to me, though, and that’s what took me to the internet for my research.

Results of my research – the Santa Ana Unified School District videos

I viewed a dozen videos and found the Santa Ana videos to be best.

They build on the traditional Run, Hide, Fight training that has been around since around 2012.

The videos are specific. They start by recommending that teachers do a thorough assessment of the classroom and school in order to:

Identify escape routes

  • Map out multiple escape routes, including breaking out windows and ways to get out of a second story.
  • Identify hiding places and ways to construct barricades.
  • Suggest how everyday classroom objects can be turned into weapons if fighting is the only alternative.

Most important, the videos SHOW kids and teachers in action in a realistic setting.

And my recommendations

If you have children in school, I have some recommendations.

  • WATCH the videos yourself so you can discuss with your kids. Here’s the link again: https://www.sausd.us/Page/34190
  • Quiz your children about the “drills” they have at school. If they are vague, dig deeper.
  • Find out from the school administration what drills are held, what training teachers receive, how often, etc.

Without getting into the politics of gun ownership, it is clear that with the MILLIONS of assault rifles in this country, not to mention handguns and other rifles, an active shooter event could happen at any time. There have been 35 mass shooting events so far this year alone! (defined as 4 or more people wounded or killed)

Your children deserve the best training you can give them.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Since we’re on the topic of emotions vs. logic, I have to say that if having more guns would make us safer, we would ALREADY be the safest country in the world since we have by far the most guns.



Off to College? What’s in your survival kit?


Pretty exciting, isn’t it? New freedom, new friends, new food (!).

And, new dangers.

Survival kit for collegeWe can’t deal here with all the social issues on campus. But there are some things you can do to make your life away at school a bit safer and more secure. Take the time to check these out.

1-Be Ready For An Active Shooter on Campus

The news has been full of shooter incidents lately, so perhaps you’ve spent time talking about what YOU would do in that situation. But maybe you haven’t.

People most at risk are – OBLIVIOUS!

  • Walking around with their eyes glued to their cell phones.
  • Chatting or goofing off with friends and not paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Half asleep, waiting for somebody else to tell them what to do.

Time to change those habits!

Here’s a video put out by the University of Alberta that is pretty effective at reminding you what to do in case you hear what sounds like gunfire. The best stuff comes after the 2 minute intro.

Action item: Take 8 minutes right now and watch this video.


And then consider these actions for when you get to campus:

2-Secure Your Dorm Room or Apartment

Let’s assume that any room you are sleeping in has normal locks, and that you use them. However, if you want to be more secure – and particularly if you have been notified of danger on campus – you want to be sure you are extra safe inside.

Depending on the construction of the door, here are three things to consider.

= = > Barricade the door.

Somebody dangerous threatening you? The classic chair under the door handle really DOES work, as long as the angles are right. In an office setting, though, you may not find the stiff chair you’re looking for. So, in an emergency, don’t hesitate to pull a HEAVY piece of furniture (table, copy machine) in front of the door. Add a second heavy piece behind it.

= = > Disable the mechanism.

Keep door from openingThe working of a typical commercial door hinge may be defeated by use of a belt. Tighten it down to prevent the door from opening, as shown by Bill Stanton, safety expert.

= = > Get a door wedge.

In your bedroom or dorm room, a simple investment in a rubber door stop may be all you’ll need. (This one looks as though it will work on any surface.) Click on the image for details.

Keep intruders from coming in through a balcony with the help of a sliding glass door bar – you can place it in the track of the door, or, if you’ve bought one for that purpose, lock it across the center of the door. Obviously, a determined intruder can break a glass door if he or she has the tool to break it with.

3-Be Prepared For Evacuation or An Extended Lockdown

It’s far more likely that your college stay could be impacted by something less dramatic than an active shooter. But it might be equally serious – like a storm, flood, electrical outage, or even some sort of disease outbreak.

Be ready to respond to a call to shelter in place or to evacuate by having your own survival kit. Figure you need to take care of yourself for at least 72 hours – and remember, you will have no access to electricity, water or food. Or a toilet.

Stuff your kit (use a backpack) and have it handy so you can grab it at a moment’s notice.

What should be in your kit?

Basic Emergency Supply Checklist

  1. Water – 1 gallon per day. (Tough to fit in a small backpack, admittedly!)
  2. First Aid Kit with fresh supplies.
  3. Food – Canned or dried foods that you like and that don’t require cooking.
  4. Clothing – A set of warm, comfortable clothing. Extra sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses.
  5. Medicine – At least a two weeks supply of any prescription medicines.
  6. Sanitation – Garbage bags, including small, compactor-strength bags for waste. Sanitary supplies. Toilet paper, baby wipes, paper towels.
  7. Flashlights, emergency radio that operates with batteries, solar or by hand crank – NO CANDLES!
  8. Car – Always ready with half tank of gas.
  9. Cash – No electricity = no ATM, no credit card.
  10. Telephone numbers – Write on paper. Your cell phone and computer will run out of battery unless you have a solar charger.

You should be able to collect just about everything on this list right at home, before you leave for school. There’s one possible exception — the emergency radio.

Here’s a link to Amazon that will get you one of the best ones we’ve found. It operates using AA batteries, its own solar panel, or you can crank it for power. You can even charge it from your computer. Click on the image for details. (If you buy through Amazon we may get a small commission. It won’t impact what you pay.)

OK, we know you have put in a lot of effort to get to where you are. Don’t overlook some of these common-sense preparations that will KEEP you at school just the way you have planned.

Best of luck,

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


P.S. Please share this article with friends. It’s possible they won’t have thought of all these things, either!



More Live Shooter or Terrorist Attacks?


When statistics show an increase in just about anything, we always have to question whether the numbers are higher because they truly are, or because reporting has gotten better.

In the case of live shooter or terrorist attacks, it seems that both are at play. That is, there are more incidents. And the reporting, almost instantaneous, is now “enhanced” by graphic video taken by security cameras or by people at the scene and shown over and over again on television and other media.

Here at Emergency Plan Guide, we can’t ignore this trend. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2013 study clearly shows it.

Active Shooter EventsAccording to this FBI study, in 2000-2013 there was one live shooter event every three weeks.

How many incidents need to be added to this chart for 2014 and so far in 2015??

Special Report: Live Shooter and Terrorist Attacks

Emergency Plan Guide Co-Author Joe Krueger has written a special report on this topic. Part One, published today, is entitled:

“What are the chances of you being involved?”

Part Two will be appearing in a week or so. It will focus on Workplace Violence. With over 2 million incidents a year, this is something that many more of us run the chance of being involved in.

But that’s next week. While we wait for Part Two, please take the time to read Part One of the Special Report.

It starts with some observations about the recent heroic actions taken by the Americans on the train headed to Paris.

They were certainly inspiring, but before you think that they could easily be replicated, read Joe’s perspective on the event. (You may not realize that he was trained in counter-terrorism, and although it hasn’t been his career, that’s not information or sensitivity that you lose.)

What can you do to protect yourself?

As always, Emergency Plan Guide is looking for sensible, do-able actions we can all take to improve our chances of surviving a disaster, whether natural or man-made.

We do not advocate arming more citizens; the thought of having untrained, aggressive or worse, terrified, gun-toters anywhere near us is repugnant.

But we do believe that taking time to mentally prepare before anything happens will give you a much better chance of making the right snap decision if it becomes necessary.

To that end, the report recommends two inexpensive books that we think make sense for our readers.

Head over to Joe’s report and read it. Here’s the link again: Special Report: Live Shooter and Terrorist Attacks


Your Emergency Plan Guide Team




Active Shooter Event at Your Business


What are the chances?

A little over two years ago I wrote for the first time about “active shooter events.”  Yesterday I saw in a recent FBI report such events have doubled in the past seven years.

And more than 2/3 of them take place at businesses or schools.

Do you work, or do you know people who work in office settings? Are you a student, or do you know students?

If so, do they know what to do if they suddenly find themselves in the midst of a live shooter event, or even hear shots?

Over in five minutes or less.

Run Hid Fight, Emergency Plan Guide.org

Link to this video below.

Two thirds of active shooter events are over in less than 5 minutes, and one-third are over in less than 2 minutes.

This means If you find yourself in such an event, you have to make QUICK decisions.

Freezing or waffling or screaming are NOT good responses, and in fact may get you killed!

The City of Houston, with the assistance of a Homeland Security Grant, created a training video that is really worth watching. We saw it first at city hall, shown and discussed by our local police department.

The video seems to have become somewhat of a standard for how to respond – and my recommendation today is that you make sure your co-workers have seen it.

The Standard — Run, Hide, Fight: Surviving an active shooter event

 Run, Hide, Fight shows a simulated event taking place in an office setting.  The whole video runs only 6 minutes.

 CAUTION: Although the action is simulated, it contains some intense scenes.  Prepare your audience before showing it.

You can view the video on YouTube at:  http://youtu.be/5VcSwejU2D0?hd=1

The FBI report mentioned above has not gone unchallenged. Criminologist James Alan Fox at Northeastern University in Boston points to the fact that there is no official tracking mechanism for active shooting and mass shooting events. And USA Today’s separate report showed different totals based on their own news sources.

For this Advisory, it doesn’t really matter whether the FBI’s definitions or totals correspond to USA Today’s. What is important is to know how to respond  or even prevent such an event.

Can such events be prevented?

Of course, prevention would be the most desirable option. As someone in a work situation, here are some statistics from the 64 incidents documented by the FBI that should give you pause for thought:

  • All but six of the shooters were male, nearly always acting alone.
  • In about 10% of the incidents, male shooters targeted current and former wives and girlfriends.
  • Other family members were targeted almost as often.
  • Almost all of the shooters had a “real or perceived, deeply held personal grievance.”
  • Shooters were inspired by and copied other attacks.

Are there warnings?

As we have learned, many – although certainly not all – shooters have been identified by family, fellow students or co-workers as exhibiting disturbing behavior well before they go on their killing spree. Even psychologists or other professionals have known of these people’s troubles.

Unfortunately, most people do not say anything for fear of civil lawsuits or for fear of being branded alarmists.

Take a look at your own school or workplace. Are you all watching out for fellow students or co-workers?  Are you aware of some of the most common triggers for violence, such as divorce, financial problems, or other legal issues? Do you have someone to whom you can report unusual or threatening behavior without fear of reprisal?

You may not be able to stop a shooter event. However, you may be able to save lives by making sure everyone knows the survival principles illustrated in Run, Hide, Fight.

The principles aren’t difficult, but having them top of mind could make all the difference.

Share the video!

We are planning to show the video in two weeks as part of our regular neighborhood emergency planning meeting. Some of the audience members will be very senior citizens; it will be interesting to see how they react.  I’ll report on how the showing goes!

And if you show it to your CERT team or your co-workers or classmates, let us know what questions it brings up.  We want to share every good idea we can. Here’s the link to the video again, http://youtu.be/5VcSwejU2D0?hd=1

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Get all our Advisories delivered to your email inbox. Sign up below.