AVOID, DENY, DEFEND & Responding to an Active Shooter
An “active shooter” is a person or persons who appear to be actively killing or attempting to kill people in a single location. These situations are dynamic in nature and require immediate action by law enforcement personnel to stop the shooter.
A simple acronym to help prepare and memorize is AVOID, DENY, DEFEND (ADD).
AVOID: Be alert. Have an exit plan. Move away from the threat.
DENY: Lock, block doors. Create barriers. Turn off lights. Silence phones.
DEFEND: Use found objects to defend yourself. Commit to actions. Don't fight fair.
How one responds at an active shooter situation will be determined by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use the following guidelines as a strategy for survival.
If an active shooter is outside your building:
- Proceed to a room that can be locked or barricaded.
- Lock all doors and windows, turn out the lights and stay away from and lower than the windows. Barricade the door if you cannot lock it.
- Dial 9-1-1 and advise the dispatcher of what is taking place and your location. Remain on the line to give the dispatcher any further information that may be needed.
- Remain in the room until the police or a campus administrator gives the “all clear.” Be sure it is the police or a campus administrator who is giving the “all clear” and not the shooter attempting to enter the room.
- If an active shooter is inside the building with you:
- If the room can be locked, lock it and stay away from the door.
- If the room cannot be locked, determine if there is a nearby room that you could safely get to that can be locked.
- Consider barricading the door if you cannot lock it.
- Follow the procedures listed above under “If an active shooter is outside your building”.
- If an active shooter enters your office or classroom:
- Dial 9-1-1 on your office phone or cell phone if possible.
- If it is possible to talk, give shooter’s location and description.
- If it is not safe to speak, just leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear what is taking place.
- If possible, attempt to negotiate with the shooter.
- Attempting to overpower the shooter with force should be considered as the last resort after all other options have been exhausted.
- If the shooter leaves the area, attempt to lock the door or barricade the door or proceed to a safe location.
- If you are able to and decide to flee an active shooting situation:
- Have a route of escape in mind.
- Leave everything behind except your cell phone (do not worry about purses or book bags – those will only slow you down.
- Keep your hands visible and follow the instructions of the police. You must remember, the police may not have an accurate description of the shooter(s), so for everyone’s safety, you may be detained by the police.
- Do not stop to assist wounded victims or attempt to move them. Do tell the police where these victims are located.
- What you should expect from responding law enforcement to an active shooter:
- Police are trained to proceed as quickly as possible to the sound of the gunfire.
- Their purpose is to stop the shooter(s).
- Officers may be in plainclothes, patrol uniforms or SWAT Uniforms armed with long rifles, shotguns, and handguns.
- Do as the officers direct you to do and keep your hands visible at all times.
- If possible, tell the officers where the shooter(s) was last seen and a description of the shooter(s).
- Also be aware that the first responding police officers will not stop to assist injured people. Others will follow to treat the injured. First responding officers are trained to proceed as quickly as possible to the gunfire and to stop the shooter(s).
Keep in mind that once you are in a safe location, the entire scene is a crime scene. The police usually will not let anyone leave until the situation is completely under control. Police may ask for your statement of what you heard and observed. Please cooperate with the police.
Another online resource that summarizes these points and provides a training video is the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT)™ Program at Texas State University.