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Surviving an Active Shooter


As we start out the new year of 2014, this issue of Security America’s Security Update is going to address a serious topic that has been in the news several times the past few years; workplace, or public location, terroristic incidents in the form of mass shootings. In doing this, we are drawing our material from a popular training video, entitled “RUN, HIDE, FIGHT” that was recently produced by the City of Houston, Texas as part of a United States Department of Homeland Security grant project. The video is accessible to you on YouTube and is currently being shown to office and industrial employees across the nation as a component of corporate safety and security training. It is in recognition of the seriousness and timeliness of this issue that we wish to share this training message with all of you.

Skeptics have pointed out that the odds of finding yourself in an incident of workplace violence are similar to those of being stuck by lightening; the odds of being killed by a fellow employee are about 1 in 2,000,000; and the odds of being killed by a terrorist are approximately 1 in 20,000,000. The point seems to be that since you are not very likely to find yourself in an active shooter event, don’t be concerned about it. Those of us in the safety and security professions take a rather different view of life. We understand that unwanted or negative experiences can happen to any of us at any-time and that preparation and planning will mitigate, or even help us avoid, the possible damage from such occurrences. Information from the referenced video follows:

Unfortunately, bad, desperate, or unstable people will, on occasion, do bad things. Their motivations will vary greatly and the potential warning signs are different, may be hard to recognize, or may not be there at all. If such a person enters your workplace with a weapon, for example a firearm, with the intent to indiscriminately use it, an “Active Shooter Event”, your survival may depend upon whether or not you have prepared and have a plan of action for such a situation. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Actually, there are three things you could do that make a difference: Run – Hide – Fight!

First and foremost, if you can get out – do! RUN when there is an active shooter in your vicinity:

  • If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate

  • Evacuate whether others agree or not

  • Leave your belongings behind

  • Help others escape if possible

  • Prevent others from entering the area

  • Call 911 when you are safe

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to HIDE:

  • Lock and/or blockade the door

  • Turn out the lights

  • Silence your cell phone

  • Hide behind large objects

  • Remain very quiet

Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the shooter’s view

  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction

  • Not trap or restrict your options for movement

As a last resort, and only if your life is in danger – FIGHT!

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter

  • Act with physical aggression

  • Improvise weapons

  • Commit to your actions

If you find yourself in this type of event, try to remain aware of your environment and at any point always have an exit plan. Remember that in an incident like this, the event is unpredictable and may evolve quickly. Victims are generally chosen randomly, as they make themselves available to the shooter’s attention.

When law enforcement arrives be aware that the first responders are not there to evacuate or tend the injured, they are there to stop the shooter.

  • Remain calm and follow instructions

  • Keep your hands visible at all times

  • Avoid pointing and yelling

  • Know that help for the injured is on the way

The point of all of the above is that your actions can make a difference for your safety and survival – Be Aware – And Be Prepared.


Your October 2013 issue of the Security Update, on a similar topic, closed with the admonition that as a professionally trained safety and security employee of Security America, Inc., you have received instruction in being alert to, and recognizing, risk at your assigned work site. You know to refer to your Security Officer’s Manual and the specific Operational Procedures/Post Orders for your location. This issue of the Security Update presents a variant on violence in the workplace and suggests a different approach to preparation, discussion, planning, and training. If additional information or assistance is desired by you or by the client where you are assigned, alert your supervisor for discussion and possible follow-up with the site owner/manager and the experienced safety/security expertise available at the Security America, Inc. Central Office.


Law Enforcement Administration Lectures, West Virginia State University, Dr. C.B. Whyte, 2013

Private Security Lectures, West Virginia State University, W. R. Whyte, 2013

Security Officer’s Manual. Security America Inc. 2006 (revised)


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