How to Respond to an Active Shooter

Mar 20, 2024

Active Shooter Statistics

To be able to properly respond to an active shooter situation, one must complete training and practice.

Since the FBI began releasing its report in 2000, the first seven years demonstrated an average of 6.4 active-shooter incidents, and that figure grew more than twofold to 16.4 the following seven years. The number lingered around 20 incidents every year since then, surging in the last two. Unfortunately, these statistics have been steadily climbing, and last year’s results remained consistent with this troubling trend. According to the FBI, over 600 active shooter incidents occurred in 2023.

655 incidents in 45 states.

2,443 casualties – including the shooters.

746 fatalities.

80 mass shooting events took place at a school or university.

Types of locations (2022 - 2023):

  • Nearly every state in the U.S. experienced a mass shooting event (45).
  • 46% of the incidents occurred in open spaces.
  • 28% in commerce, including grocery stores, malls, and shopping centers
  • 12% in education and residences.
  • 4% in houses of worship and government.
  • 2% in health care.

How to Respond

  1. Run – Have an escape route and plan on where to go.
    – Leave your belongings behind.
    – Prevent others from entering the area.
    – Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
  2. Hide
     Shelter-in-place in an area out of the shooter’s view.
    – Block entry to your hiding place and secure the door.
    – Silence communications devices.
    – Remain quiet.
  3. Fight
    – As a last resort and only if your life is in danger, attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
    – Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter.
    – Commit to your actions.

When Law Enforcement Arrives

  • Officers will usually be in teams.
  • May be in uniform or tactical gear.
  • First responders won’t help victims until the threat is neutralized.
  • Remain calm and follow directions.
  • Keep hands visible and avoid sudden movements.
  • Avoid pointing, screaming, and yelling.
  • Expect to be detained.

Get Prepared

  • Establish a partnership with local law enforcement and first responders.
  • Implement an action plan that addresses active shooter scenarios.
  • Designate at least one (two recommended) “safe rooms” on each floor and ensure everyone is aware of the locations.
  • Conduct awareness training for personnel to ensure everyone recognizes and understands the warning signs of potential violence.
  • Test and drill on your plans.
  • And remember, if you see something, say something.

Even the best-laid plans can go terribly wrong with the simple introduction of the “human factor.” Implement this in emergency response planning, where the stakes are high, and even the most thorough plan can begin to fall apart. The best way to eliminate the human factor is to test your plans during tabletop exercises.

Active Shooter Tabletop Exercise (Webinar)

You may have a plan in place, but have you tested and trained on it?