Active Shooter Situations
Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel (first
responders) who come to an IHE because of a 911 call involving gunfire face a daunting
task. Though the objective remains the same – protect students and staff – the threat
of an active shooter situation is different than responding to a natural disaster
or many other emergencies.
Emergency calls can involve actual or future threats of physical violence. This
violence might be directed not only in or at IHE buildings, students, staff, and
areas on campus but also at nearby buildings off campus.
“Active shooter situations” are defined18 as those where an
individual is “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined
and populated area.”19 Unfortunately, IHEs face active shooter situations as well.
The better first responders and IHE personnel are able to discern these threats
and react swiftly, the more lives can be saved. This is particularly true in an
active shooter situation where law enforcement responds to a 911 call of
shots fired. Many innocent lives are at risk in concentrated areas. This is why
it is critical that IHEs work with their community partners (e.g., first responders,
emergency managers) to identify, prepare, prevent, and effectively respond to an
active shooter situation in a coordinated fashion.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Because
of this, individuals must be prepared to deal with an active shooter situation
before law enforcement personnel arrive on the scene.
IHEs should also plan for other gun-related incidents (e.g., a single shot fired,
possession of a weapon on campus).