Active Shooter Events - How to Respond

August 5 2016. Written by Hannah Thomas, Maryland Responds State Administrator.

We have recently seen some sobering stories in the news of active shooter events – when someone attacks people where they live, learn, work and play. Do you know what to do in this type of scenario?  Do your family members, friends, and co-workers know what to do?  Unfortunately, many people freeze in these situations. Knowing what to do in an active shooter situation can help save lives.
We are asking for your help in spreading this vital information to your fellow Responders, co-workers, family, friends and communities. Knowing how to react and practicing these skills can help make a difference in an active shooter situation.

83672443_thumbnail.jpgIt is always a good idea to keep your situational awareness high and have an escape plan in mind wherever you are. For example, how you will exit your office in an emergency? What about your home? Is there more than one exit? Which exit  is the closest? Knowing this information is vital to your safety in any emergency situation, but it is especially crucial during an active shooter scenario.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has many resources available for you to learn what to do if you are in an active shooter situation. DHS advises that you should first RUN, then HIDE, and, as a last resort, FIGHT.

Attempting to RUN should be your first option. Have your escape route in mind, leave all of your belongings behind, do not wait for others if they choose to stay, do not attempt to move the wounded, keep your hands visible at all times, and call 911 when you are safe.
If running is not an option, you should attempt to HIDE. Hide in an area that is out of the shooter’s view, lock all doors and block the entry of your hiding place to the best of your ability.

Your last resort should be to FIGHT. Do not hold back. You should aim to incapacitate the shooter. There are no rules in this fight. Act with as much aggression as possible. Commit to this fight because your life truly depends on it.


                             Run Hide Fight graphic.jpg

Something to note in an active shooter situation is that police will be the first people to arrive and their first priority will be to eliminate the threat. They will bypass the wounded - but do not worry, EMS will be behind shortly. Do not get in their way and keep your hands empty and visible. A waving cell phone can look like something threatening to them. Do what they ask - they are there to help.

DHS has developed quick-reference materials that provide more details on each step of RUN, HIDE, FIGHT:
Active Shooter Pocket Card:
Active Shooter Event Quick Reference Card:

In addition, DHS developed lengthier materials for individuals interested in expanding their knowledge or in developing preparedness plans for their offices, homes and communities:
Active Shooter How to Respond Booklet:
Active Shooter Independent Study Online Training: Click on “Interactive Web Based Course” on the right side of the page.   Active Shooter Pocket Card.JPG

There are many other active shooter awareness materials available online at DHS’s Active Shooter Preparedness Page which can be found here:

We urge you to distribute these resources to everyone you know, either electronically or by printing and physically posting it in common areas of places that you frequently visit. Remember that the simple act of sharing this information could help to save the life of someone you know or love.