Emergency Response Guide

Active Armed Assailant

The Run!-Hide!-Fight! protocol

It is important for faculty and staff to be mentally and physically prepared in case a situation with an Active Armed Assailant arises.  Review the Run!-Hide!-Fight! training materials or request a training session with campus police.  Always be aware of your environment and any possible dangers, and take note of the nearest exits in any facility you visit.

An Active Armed Assailant (a.k.a. Active Shooters, Active Assailants, Hostile Intruder) is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, they will use firearms and/or weapons, and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.  Situations involving Active Armed Assailants are unpredictable, evolve quickly, and are often over within minutes. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the armed assailant and mitigate harm to victims.

When an Active Armed Assailant is in your vicinity you should quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life.

1.       RUN!  

In most emergency situations, the human response is to freeze. You are instead encouraged to develop a mental preparedness to MOVE. Be sure to:

  • Have an accessible escape route and plan in mind.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active assailant may be.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people.

2.       HIDE! (Shelter in Place)

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide that is out of the assailant's view and which provides protection if shots are fired in your direction.

  • If possible, lock the door and use heavy furniture or equipment to barricade it.
  • Close and cover any windows.
  • Turn off the lights and any A/V equipment.
  • Silence your cell phone and other electronic devices.
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions).
  • Hide out of sight in a cupboard or closet, or behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks).
  • Remain quiet and calm.
  • Dial 911 from a landline if possible, to alert police to the assailant's location. 

3.       FIGHT! 

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, you should take action against the assailant and attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate them. When the assailant is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you distract or attack the assailant by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Throwing items
  • Yelling
  • Improvise weapons out of items such as: a fire extinguisher (for spraying or attacking); chairs; tools; desk objects; or even heavy books.

When law enforcement arrives:

  1. Remain calm and follow instructions.
  2. Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets).
  3. Raise hands and spread fingers.
  4. Keep hands visible at all times.
  5. Avoid quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety.
  6. Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling.
  7. Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating.    

Provide law enforcement or 911 operators the following information:

  • Location of the active armed assailant(s)
  • Number of assailant(s)
  • Physical description of assailant(s)
  • Number and type of weapons held by assailant(s)
  • Number of potential victims at the location

Coping with an active armed assailant situation:

  1. Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
  2. Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit
  3. Do not touch anything that was in the vicinity of the active armed assailant(s) so investigators can analyze

What to expect from responding police officers:

Police officers responding to an active armed assailant are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard.  Their purpose is to stop the assailant(s) as quickly as possible.
The first responding officers will normally be in teams.  They may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment.
The officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns and might be using pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.  Regardless of how they appear, remain calm.  Do as the officers tell you and do not be afraid of them.  Put down any bags or packages you may be carrying and keep your hands visible at all times.  If you know where the assailant is, tell the officers.
The first officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured people.  Rescue teams composed of other officers and emergency medical personnel will follow behind the first officers to treat and remove injured people.  

IMPORTANT:  Keep in mind that even once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still considered a crime scene.  Police personnel will usually not let anyone leave until the situation is fully under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned.  Until you are released, remain at the location which authorities have designated.