Active Shooter Preparation – Every Business Needs to Be Ready

A man with tattoos holding a gun.

Active shooter preparedness should be a priority for workplace safety. Companies and employers must provide information to their employees on what to do in the event of an active shooter situation. Below are the best practices to be prepared and survive a workplace attack.

If you are looking to provide active shooter training for your employees, we have a complete kit available.

What Is an Active Shooter Event?

An active shooter incident can occur anywhere. That’s why every workplace needs to have a strategy in place and provide training. Active shooter preparedness can save lives.

According to the FBI, not all gun-related situations are considered active shooter situations. An active shooter is actively engaged in attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Often, these attacks are carried out without any perceptible method and, therefore, can be highly unpredictable.

Due to the high number of cases, the FBI only reports violent incidents that include the use of firearms occurring in communities where the shooting appears to be spontaneous, unrelated to another crime, was methodical, or was a mass casualty.

A man in a black hoodie holding a gun.

Active Shooter Incidents

Every year, the FBI provides documented incidents from all over the U.S. The data presented by the FBI helps communities safely prepare and safely respond to these incidents. Decades of research and data from the FBI suggest that some industries are at a greater risk than others. However, no community or workplace is immune.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends having a system in place to safely respond to signs of potentially violent behavior safely. Employers should always safely respond to signs of a mentally unstable or disgruntled employee.

A combination of information and training from the FBI helps workplaces prepare for these situations and respond as best as possible.

Active Shooter Preparedness Strategies

Preparedness strategies and training help employees remain safe during an active shooter event. However, even the best plans cannot guarantee absolute safety.

Risk assessment and responding to the threat are essential topics. Training and covering the information below will help prepare you and your employees. Also, assembling a threat assessment team at work is a good first step in understanding your business’s vulnerabilities.

A man holding a gun walking toward a business

Preparing for an Active Shooter Event

The first step during an active shooter incident is sounding an alarm. All employees should have the tools and be trained to use emergency codes to contact first responders or the police department.

Follow your training but also trust your instincts. You need to develop a survival mindset. Awareness and preparation will help you understand your surroundings if active shooter incidents occur at work.

There are generally three training options: to run, hide, or fight. In an active shooter situation, you need to make a decision that will keep you safe. It’s challenging to remain calm during a traumatic event such as an active shooting situation. However, following instructions and keeping a clear head can save your life.


The first course of action is to run and flee the scene. Therefore, workplace active shooter preparedness strategies and training should focus on mapping evacuation routes. All employees should be trained to leave behind personal belongings. Moreover, everyone should avoid elevators and escalators.


Sheltering in place is the second best option. Employees should seek a hiding place in the nearest environment. To prepare, employees should find rooms in the building with few windows. Remember to turn off the lights and lock the door. If there is large furniture in the room, use it to barricade any doors.

Active shooters will look for populated rooms. Therefore, you want to try to make the room seem unoccupied. Remain silent and stay hidden as best as you can until law enforcement gives you the all-clear signal to safely evacuate the building.


If you can’t run or hide, the best course of action is to disable the attack or attackers. However, this is the last resort. Prepare yourself to cause severe or lethal injury to the individual actively engaged in trying to kill people.

You must be aggressive and commit to your actions. If you are not alone, try to ambush the attacker(s) and act as a team. There is strength in numbers. Create makeshift weapons with the items in your environment, such as scissors, paperweights, chairs, fire extinguishers, or anything that is sharp or you can throw. Use speed and surprise to your benefit.

Active shooter response guide for employees

What to Do If the Shooter is in Proximity

Surviving active shooter situations depends a lot on instinct. That means you need to quickly use discretion. This includes deciding when to engage with the shooter to fight to survive.

Part of preparedness includes planning what you are willing to do or capable of doing to survive the threat. You must commit to your actions in this scenario, which can mean acting as a team. Do whatever is necessary and follow your training.

A man holding a gun in his hand.

What to Do If You’re Outside

If you find yourself outside, the best way to remain safe is to get on the ground. You want to lay face down as flat as possible. However, if you are within 10-20 feet of a hiding spot, after assessing your surroundings, you can duck and run to it so you can hide.

Remember that not all objects that keep you concealed are bulletproof. But stay in relative safety, and don’t move until you receive instructions from law enforcement.

Calling for Help

Call first responders for help as soon as it’s safe to do so. Don’t ever assume someone else has reported the incident. Phone lines may not work correctly, so be persistent until someone answers.

You will need to identify yourself and your location to the operator. They are trained to work with emergency callers through these situations. If you can, provide information about the shooter, including their location, race, height, weight, age, clothing, vehicle, and name if you know it.

When Law Enforcement Arrives

When law enforcement arrives, don’t run to them. Law enforcement and other first responders must first locate the shooter to ensure your safety. Don’t make sudden movements, including shouting or moving your arms. Your hands should also be free of any objects that can be perceived as a weapon.

Provide any information you have about the active shooter to law enforcement, including the type of weapons used. They will give you instructions on what to do next and provide first aid.

A man with tattoos holding a gun.

Surviving an Active Shooter Situation

Don’t be afraid to confide in your loved ones about the incident. But be mindful of your mental health. Coping with the trauma of the incident may require the use of a mental health professional. Seeking professional help is expected and encouraged after surviving an active shooter situation.

Prepare Your Workplace

Active shooter events or attacks are often random, with little to no signs ahead of time. As a result, employers must educate, train, prepare, and protect their employees to prepare for worst-case scenarios – preparation can save lives. All businesses should prepare for an active shooter situation, all the while praying that one never materializes.