How To Respond to an Active Shooter Situation

There were 417 mass shooting events in the United States in 2019. With high-profile mass shootings occurring in schools, workplaces and shopping centers, it has become more important than ever to have a plan in place to effectively respond to an active shooter situation.

Alert First Responders

As soon as it is safe to do so, call 9-1-1 and report the active shooter. If you have a cell phone, use it. If not, once you have evacuated the building, try to get to a public phone or a nearby business and ask them to let you use their phone or get them to call 9-1-1 for you. Some facilities have installed threat response solutions that utilize technology to quickly alert first responders. If you can safely access and know-how to activate this technology, use it. If you are responsible for a facility, you should ensure that the people using it know where and how to alert first responders during an active shooter event.


If there is an accessible escape route, try to evacuate the building. It helps if you already have an escape plan in mind before the event occurs. Employees should be trained on how to respond to an active shooter and made aware of the best escape routes. Customers and visitors will likely follow their lead. Do not try to take your stuff with you. Help others if you can, but if they refuse to evacuate, leave them behind. Do not attempt to move wounded people. Avoid entering areas where the active shooter may be. Keep your hands visible and follow instructions from any police officers you encounter.


If you can not evacuate and are already in a room with a lockable door when the event occurs, stay there and lock the door. If there is anything in the room you can barricade the door with, this may also help. If you are in a hallway, go to the nearest room and close the door. Lock it if you can. Shooters often pursue the easiest targets and may simply pass by rooms with locked doors, rather than try to break in. Avoid windows and try to find something you can hide behind or in. Silence your cell phone and any other source of noise.

Mass shooting events are still relatively rare occurrences; however, being prepared to effectively respond to one can save lives. Consider incorporating these strategies into your active shooter response plan.