With the unfortunate increase of active shooter incidents that have occurred in the past couple of years the need to have a plan of action is important. The law defines an active shooter of at least 3 casualties in a public place. When most think of a probable location for an active shooter incident most think of a school setting due to several factors including target-rich environments or high populations.

gun active shooter

By now most who have some sort of active shooter training or have kids in schools have heard of the four training words some have been teaching.

  • Run
  • Hide
  • Fight

Having an E.A.P. or emergency action plan in place could make all the difference.



As a law enforcement officer, it is easy to say this because we are always aware of our surroundings. Anytime we walk into a location we scan people inside and are looking for points of entry / exits. Most law enforcement and military will do this second nature. To the average citizen it takes work to figure these things out but will come with practice.

escape route for active shooter

On October 1, 2017 thousands of concert-goers were enjoying the night at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, NV. During the concert Stephen Paddock fired over 1,100 rounds from an elevated and distant position into the crowd, killing 58 and wounding 422. During this incident chaos, confusion and panic filled the air.

Knowing your surroundings, potential escape routes, or hiding spots could buy you and your family sometime. It is as simple as finding the “Exit” sign in a store or restaurant every time you walk in or looking down an aisle in the grocery store scanning for the back doors. You can practice this with your kids with a simple game.

Every incident and scenario are different, embedding escape routes and hiding spots with your family can put them in a tactical advantage in the event a critical incident does occur and you’re not around.




Flee the immediate area to a safe spot and immediately call law enforcement. If you can provide accurate and clear information, do so. Do not jeopardize your safety or the safety of others to do this. If you are unable to exit the same building or location be sure to try to barricade the door. Desks and heavy filing cabinets work great for this. Try not to stand in front of the door due to it’s potential to be in the line of fire.

hiding during active shooter

Only you really know how you will react when an incident like an active shooter happens. If you are a law enforcement officer or military member there could be an obligation to stop the threat. If you are a legally armed citizen or just an average joe, you will have to make that decision to protect yourself or your family. Statistics have shown active shooters almost always stop killing at the first point of resistance.

escape routes during active shooter

If enforcement action is taken be sure to clearly identify yourself loudly, visibly and try to call in to dispatch as soon as possible.

  • Keep hands free and clear
  • Leave non-essential items
  • Run toward law enforcement but do not interfere
  • Provide info to law enforcement or dispatch if possible




If the active shooter is determined to get to your position look for additional escape routes (breaking windows, roof access, or basement access).  If you are not able to run or hide and you are faced with the active shooter look for weapons of opportunity. If you’re in a school or office setting a chair, flagpole. or items can be used to defend yourself. With several people around you can attempt to overwhelm the shooter and neutralize the threat.

  • Throwing or using objects to hit the suspect
  • Yelling or acting aggressively
  • Group coordination




Depending on where you are located this portion is more important for those who find themselves hiding or barricaded. If you believe the active shooter is no longer a threat or you suspect law enforcement has arrived, you may call into dispatch or your local police department to ask. Law enforcement will most likely attempt to clear all rooms and evacuate all victims. If they knock on the door they will announce themselves as “Police” or “Sheriff Office”. You can also have them slide their credentials under the door if you are not convinced (this might now always be feasible). If you are not injured it is recommended you stick around so that law enforcement may obtain your statement to assist in their investigation.

To date, there have been over 175 mass shootings for 2019. It is important to sit down and run a few drills with your family or at your workplace. It is recommended you run these simple drills as frequent as you run fire drills and take them seriously.

police during active shooter

Below are a few reputable websites you can research additional active shooter training:

Be sure to check out our other article on critical incidents here.