What is your mantra for an active shooter?

by todaystrainingblog

The mantras are nearly identical: Run, Hide, Fight or Avoid, Barricade, Confront during a workplace violence (WPV) incident. But there is another one that is popular in Europe and gaining popularity in the United States that turns those 3 words on their ear. It basically turns them around into a better model: Fight, hide, or run or in other terms confront, barricade, or avoid.

But with all the things floating around about an active shooter plan and what employees should do, what should you do? My answer is to take the attitude of Flight 93 that crashed in Shanks Ville, PA. on September 11, 2001. In their case they could do nothing but fight.

And I believe that is exactly what you need to do. Fight the intruder first before anything happens. It has been proven that if you attack the shooter or attacker, remember they may not all have a firearm; you can overwhelm and stop them. And if you don’t stop them, you will slow them down and allow your co-workers to escape.

Now the question arises how do you fight or confront them? For some people this will never be easy. Some people are very reluctant, understandably, to face a firearm in the face. Those people who feel that way still need to keep their wits and use the final 2 points of these mantras, hide or run.

For those that have the courage, whether it is bravado or adrenaline doesn’t matter, you need to do what you can to prevent any more carnage. You can do this by;

  • Throwing things at the perpetrator. Anything you can including coffee cups, staplers, phones, or whatever you have
  • Trying to distract them, anyway you can. If you are a ventriloquist or standup comic…
  • Calling attention to yourself & away from your co-workers
  • Acting like a linebacker from your favorite football team

These are only a few tips to use. IF you decide to attack it’s always preferable to have a gang of 2, 3, or more to assist. Again, the evidence is in that memorialized field in Pennsylvania. And in the case of a WPV assault the more people you have to knock down and hold the perpetrator the better your chances of keeping them from killing someone. As for the other items of hide or run… Let’s take them separately for better understanding.

Running is always an option for someone who may be fearful of the perpetrator and especially if that person knows the shooter is after them. People such as an ex-wife/girlfriend, supervisor, (hated) co-worker, or anyone need to get out of the way quickly. If they can get out of the area of damage, he it by firearm, bomb, or sharp instruments, they need to do it. If they don’t then the murderous intent of the perpetrator has no reason to go on, with their intended victim dead and they will usually stop at nothing to get to them.

A caveat here for evacuating the office or building. Always find a different way of getting out of the area. Don’t rely on specified evacuation routes. If it is safe, as most wouldn’t be in a fire, then take it. My thought on this is that the perpetrator will know those routes and if the attack doesn’t work…

As for barricading or hiding yourself before they find you, it’s just as simple. Your hidey hole needs to be as small as it can be for you, dark, and easily barricaded with a desk, file cabinet, or something similar if it doesn’t have a lock on it. The only issue with that would be, is that if there is no external lock on the door, or handle, then the perp will know someone is in there, so take that into consideration.

Also if you have a serious asthma condition, COPD, allergies, or some other similar health issue   that may give you away you may not want to have anyone else with you as you hide. The reasoning here I think is fairly obvious, even with the exploding blasts of the firearm. You don’t want to put someone else’s life in danger because of your health issues.

Studies have shown that it takes the police approx. 5-10 minutes to respond to an emergency call such as an active shooter. These same studies also show that the incidents are usually over within 2 to 3½ minutes. That means you can’t depend on law enforcement to stop the perpetrator before they get to you

And to go along with that is the fact that most people, employers, or security personnel, unfortunately, assigned to your office or building will have no idea how to react to such an incident. If they do offer the necessary training, you need to take full advantage of it and learn it, not just attend for brownie points.

WPV is a growing concern in the United States. Whether that violence be because of a work dispute, domestic violence, terrorism, or something else we as security professionals need to be prepared. That means developing a plan, which by necessity, includes the fight, run, or hide plan as well as the evacuation plans and alternates.

With more than 15 million incidents of WPV every year it’s clear that we need to do something. And if we can’t turn our businesses into gulags, which wouldn’t be so good for business, we have to train and prepare for such an event.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

           I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear