Active Shooter in the building!”

What would you do in that situation? Literally, the words to live by are virtually the same but with a small subtle difference, in order of actions:

Run, Hide, Fight

Fight, hide, run

Confront, barricade, or avoid

Avoid, barricade, confront

During a workplace violence (WPV) incident. Why the difference and why should there be one?

With all the plans floating around and so many people scared of what may happen…it is hard to know which you should follow. My opinion is like my personality. Remember Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, PA. On September 11, 2001? In that case they could do nothing but fight. In other words fight, hide, or run. They could do nothing but fight, heroically dying at the time of their choosing not the terrorists.

It has been proven that if you attack the perpetrator, remember they may not all have a firearm; you can overwhelm and stop them before they can harm anyone else. If you don’t stop them, then you will slow them down and allow your co-workers to escape, hopefully unharmed.

The question then arises how do you fight or confront them, especially if they have a firearm? For some people this will never be something that is easy to accomplish. Some people are very reluctant, understandably, to face a firearm in the face. Those people who feel that way still need to keep their wits and use the last 2 words; hide or run.

For those that have the courage, whether it is fear, daring, or adrenaline doesn’t matter, you need to do what you can to prevent useless butchery. You can do this by;

  • Throwing things at the perpetrator. Anything you can including coffee cups, staplers, phones, or whatever you have close at hand
  • Trying to distract them, anyway you can. If you are a ventriloquist or standup comic…
  • Calling attention to yourself & away from your co-workers, this takes courage as well
  • Acting like a linebacker from your favorite football team

These are only a few tips to use. IF you decide to attack it’s always preferable to have a group of 2, 3, or more to assist. And in the case of a WPV assault the more people you have to knock down and hold the perpetrator the better your chances of keeping them from injuring someone. As for the other items of hide or run… Let’s take them separately for better understanding, not as a cowardly act.



For someone who may be terrified of the perpetrator, running away is always an option. This would be especially true if the purported victim is a significant other of the shooter or otherwise being targeted, they need to get out of the way quickly. Usually, the perpetrator will stop at absolutely nothing to murder their victim, including murdering others to get it done.

A caveat for evacuating the office or building. As stupid as this may sound, always find a different way of getting out instead of the normal evacuation routes. Don’t rely on the specified routes. If it is safe, as most wouldn’t be in a fire, then take it. My wild & crazy way of thinking on this is simple, if the perpetrator knows, and if they are an ex-employee, those evacuation routes…



Your hidey hole needs to be as small as it can be for you, dark, and easily barricaded with a desk, file cabinet, or something similar whether it has a lock on it or not. Keep in mind though, is that if there is no external lock on the door, or handle, then the perpetrator could easily figure out that someone is in that room, so take that into consideration when finding your hidey hole.

Another issue to consider is if you have serious allergies, asthma, COPD, or other respiratory issue   that may give you away. You may not want to have anyone else with you as you hide. The reasoning here I think is fairly obvious. Your health issues may cause the normal, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and so on, this could easily give your location away to a perpetrator, endangering your friends and co-workers.

Studies have shown that it takes the police approx. 5-10 minutes to respond to an emergency call such as an active shooter. These same studies also show that the incidents are usually over within 2 to 3½ minutes. That means you can’t depend on law enforcement to stop the perpetrator before they get to you.

To go along with that is that most people including employers, employees, or security, unfortunately, assigned to your building will have no idea how to react to such an incident

If the training is actually offered, you need to take full advantage of it and learn it, not just attend for brownie points.

WPV is a growing concern in the United States. Whether that violence be because of a work dispute, domestic violence, terrorism, or something else we as security professionals need to be prepared. That means developing a plan, which by necessity, includes the fight, run, or hide plan as well as the evacuation plans and alternates.

With more than 15 million incidents of WPV every year, check out my posts on the monthly numbers, it’s clear that we need to do something. Not all of them will be firearm related but can turn fatal with anything, including pencils and coffee cups. If we can’t turn our businesses into gulags, which isn’t quite realistic in a free and open society, we don’t live in North Korea or Russia. To combat the question of what would you do, we have to train, train, and train again as well as prepare, prepare, and prepare by developing and implementing a plan, for such an event.

Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues. You can follow him on or @robertsollars2 on twitter.

                             I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear


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