If an active shooter is in your vicinity, quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Depending on the location of the shooter, you should determine if your staff and patients should evacuate or shelter in place.
Here are some guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security for each option:
- Have an escape route and plan in mind
- Leave your belongings behind
- Do not attempt to move wounded people
- Help others escape, if possible
- Prevent others from entering area where an active shooter might be
- Call 911 when you are safe
SHELTER IN PLACE
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide in an area that is out of the active shooter’s view.
- Lock the door, and blockade the entry if possible.
- Silence your phone and/or pager.
- Turn off any source of noise.
- Hide behind large items (desk or filing cabinet).
- Remain quiet.
If the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee: Remain calm. Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the shooter’s location. If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
The Department of Homeland Security advises taking action against a shooter only as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
If you feel you must, here are their suggested actions to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter:
- Act as aggressively as possible against the shooter
- Throw items and improvise weapons
- Yell at the shooter
- Commit to your actions
HOW TO RESPOND WHEN POLICE ARRIVE
Law enforcement's purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard. Be aware that:
- Officers usually arrive in teams of four (4)
- Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment
- Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
- Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
- Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety
When law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm and follow officers' instructions
- Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
- Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
- Keep hands visible at all times
- Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety
- Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises
Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operators:
- Location of the active shooter
- Number of shooters, if more than one
- Physical description of shooter/s
- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
- Number of potential victims at the location
The first officers to arrive at the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.
Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.
For additional information or assistance, you can contact the Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov (opens in a new window)) or the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (www.osha.gov (opens in a new window)).