Active Shooter Response Protocol

Ohio State University Emergency Management sent out the tweet at approximately 10am ET on Monday morning:

Around that time, a text alert with the same message appeared on student phones. Around the 2000-acre campus, students and faculty did just that: sheltering in place and barricading classrooms with whatever materials were available, as seen in this image from a student which circulated through news outlets:

As the hours passed, the “shelter in place” directive was lifted and the details were revealed: the perpetrator was an OSU student; he drove a vehicle into a group of students, then got out and charged at people with a butcher knife; he was not armed with a gun, but still wounded eleven people, some critically; the gunshots many students heard were from the police officer who stopped him; he was killed during the altercation.

College campus shootings and other violent incidents remain relatively rare overall, but they have unfortunately become a common enough occurrence that within 24 hours, the incident wasn’t even top-story news on major news outlets. Because of this rate of recurrence, nearly all campuses have an Active Shooter Protocol which is presented to all students, faculty, and staff.

Schools use different procedures to manage threats. Many, like OSU, use bulk SMS and social media to alert students. Others have audio messages which can be broadcast throughout campus buildings. Some have police dispatch on-site or full emergency management centers. A few campuses are even utilizing PSIM alarm monitoring software for not just campus security, but as a means for situational awareness, giving responders better information about where and how to respond to an active shooter or other emergency situation.

Even with different ways of managing threats, schools tend to follow the same recommended response plan from Homeland Security: Run. Hide. Fight.

  • Run: If there is an escape route available and accessible, evacuate the premises. Leave belongings behind and keep your hands visible so you aren’t mistaken for the active shooter by first responders in the area. Help others to escape if you can, and once you are in a safe area, call 911.
  • Hide: If you are not able to evacuate, find a hiding place. Ideally, choose a room with a lockable door, and blockade it with heavy and/or multiple furniture pieces. Stay away from windows, and close curtains or blinds if possible. Situate yourself behind a cabinet, desk, or other concealing furniture. Silence your cell phone or other devices and any other source of noise in the room, and stay quiet.
  • Fight: This response should only be used as a last resort if the option to run or hide is not possible. Remain calm. If you can, call 911 with a location. If you can’t speak, leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear. If you must engage the active shooter, commit to your actions and be as aggressive as possible. Throw items, yell, and improvise weapons out of any materials available. If possible, work in a group to overtake the shooter – there is strength in numbers.

Homeland Security has a resource guide with these response protocols, plus information to train staff and prepare for the possibility of an active shooter incident.

Bold Technologies is proud to be the supplier of alarm monitoring software for several colleges and universities across the country and is committed to providing the tools needed to support their unique security requirements.