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Ready DC
Ready DC

Active Shooter

An active shooter is one or more person(s) that is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people with a firearm in a populated area. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and can evolve quickly. These attacks often occur without a pattern or method to the selection of victims.  

Although the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required during active shooter incidents, more than half of the incidents end before police arrive on scene.  


Use the following tips to prepare your workplace, school, home, family, and staff for an active shooter situation: 

At Work:

  • Encourage employees to Stay Informed by signing up for AlertDC to receive updates
  • Create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), include the following components in your EAP:
    • Guidance from key personnel including human resource departments, training departments, facility owners/operators, property managers, and/or Metropolitan Police (MPD): 
      • A preferred method for incident reporting.
      • An evacuation policy and procedure.
      • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments (i.e., floor plans, safe areas).
      • Information on school or company's pre-identified meeting place.
      • Contact information for supervisors or managers to report your safety and check-in.
      • Local hospitals (name, telephone number, and distance from your location).
      • How to access or use your emergency notification system, if you have one.
  • Conduct training exercises. Contact your local law enforcement to conduct training exercises. These trainings can be requested through the Metropolitan Police Department, HSEMA’s Community Outreach Team, or the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism and Partnerships. Some components of training exercises include: 
    • Recognizing the sounds of gunshots
    • Reacting quickly when gunshots are heard
    • Evacuating the area
    • Hiding
    • Acting against the shooter as a last resort
    • Calling 911
    • Reacting when law enforcement arrives
    • Adopting the survival mindset during times of crisis
    • Plan to run, hide, or fight (see guidance for What to Do During an Active Shooter Incident)
  • If you are working as a member of a company or other professional organization during an active shooter incident, remember that customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation. Know your company’s plans and procedures and get to safety as quickly and safely as possible. 

At Home:

  • Stay informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are.
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family members may not all be in one place when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how and where you will convene and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Plan to run, hide, or fight (see guidance below).
  • To protect yourself and your family, quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life.  


1. Run:

  • Evacuate even if others will not follow.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers.
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

2. Hide:

  • Remain quiet and calm.
  • Find a place to hide out of the shooter’s view.
  • Avoid trapping yourself or restricting your options for movement.
  • If you are confined to a room, lock and blockade the door with heavy furniture. Move away from the door and window(s).
  • Silence your cell phone, turn off vibration mode and turn off radios and televisions.

3. Fight:

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her.
  • Throwing items and using any improvised weapons possible.
  • Yelling and making loud noises.
  • Act as a group and commit to your actions.



After the active shooter has been incapacitated, be prepared to engage in post-event assessments and activities conducted by law enforcement and others:

In the workplace:
A manager or designed human resources representative should:

  • Account for all individuals at a designated assembly point to determine if anyone is missing and/or injured.
  • Notify families of individuals affected by the active shooter, including notification of any casualties. For businesses and other organizations, the notification should come only from designated managers and/or other human resources staff members.
  • Assess the well-being of individuals at the scene, and refer them to health care specialists if necessary.

An employee should:

  • Stay informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are.
  • Communicate with family members and friends.
  • Go to their pre-designated meeting place once the “all clear” is given from law enforcement on the scene in order to reconnect with family members, colleagues, and superiors. 
  • If you have a cell phone, call, text, email or use social media to communicate with family members and friends. 
  • If you have access to a computer, use an online registry such as the Red Cross website, “Safe and Well”. 

Additional Resources:

Campus All Hazards Guides to Preparedness:

Disaster Response and Recovery:

Reporting Emergency Incidents: