Episode 2 – Active Shooter (How to Cope with)


Toolbox Talk Topic: (How to Cope with an) Active Shooter Situation


An active shooter is an individual killing or attempting to kill people in a confined area. In most cases, there is no method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are typically over within 15 minutes and often before law enforcement can arrive.



August 1, 1966 – University of Texas Tower Shooting (Austin, Texas)

This was the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history at the time. According to Wikipedia, Charles Whitman, a former Marine, took rifles and other weapons to the observation deck of the main tower; he then opened fire indiscriminately, killing four people. Over the next 96 minutes, he shot and killed 14 more people and injured 31 others.


August 20, 1986 – Edmond Post Office Shooting (Edmond, Oklahoma)

Shortly after 7:00 a.m., Patrick Sherrill killed Richard Esser, Jr., one of the two supervisors who had verbally disciplined him the day before. Sherrill then sought out Bill Bland, the other supervisor who had reprimanded him. However, Bland had overslept and arrived an hour late. Not finding Bland, Sherrill then sought out other co-workers. In less than fifteen minutes, Sherrill killed 14 co-workers and injured another six. Sherrill’s attack inspired the American phrase “going postal.” The day’s violence ended when Sherrill took his own life.


Some other active shooter events:

  • Virginia Tech Shooting (Blacksburg, Virginia)
  • April 16, 2007 – 32 killed, 32+ wounded*
  • Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting (Newtown, Connecticut)
  • December 14, 2012 – 27 killed, 27+ wounded*
  • San Bernardino Attack (San Bernardino, California)
  • December 2, 2015 – 14 killed, 24 injured
  • Pulse Nightclub Shooting (Orlando, Florida)
  • June 12, 2016 – 49 killed, 50 injured.



Between 2000 and 2018, There were 277 active shooter incidents in the U.S. The worst years were 2017 with 30 incidents and 2018 with 27 Incidents. In 2017 there were 138 deaths and 591injured. In 2018 there were 85 deaths and 128 wounded.


Where is this happening? By far, it is in workplaces a whopping 43.7% of the time, followed by Education at 20.6%, open spaces at 13.4%, and government buildings at 9.4%. A further breakdown can be found on the FBI’s Website.


Safety Tips

How do you cope with an Active Shooter situation?


You must be mentally and physically prepared:

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
  • Take note of the nearest exits
  • Know in advance the best evacuation route to a safe area

If you are caught up in an active shooter situation, there are three things to remember. RUN HIDE FIGHT!



  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Stay as low as you can to keep out of the shooter’s view



  • Hide somewhere out of the shooter’s view
  • If you are in a room with a door, stay there
  • If you are in a hallway or open area, get in a room or secure area.
  • Block entry and lock the doors
  • Silence your cell phone



As a last resort and only when your life is in immediate danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter,
  • Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter


A Safe Location

If you can get out of the building or area, find somewhere safe and CALL 911 but only if and when it is SAFE to do so. Try to provide as much information as you can to Law Enforcement or the 911 Operator, such as:

  • Location of the active shooter
  • Number of shooters
  • Physical description of shooters – height, weight, sex, ethnicity
  • Number and type of weapons held by shooters – do they have handguns, rifles, or explosives
  • Number of potential victims at the Location


How should your respond when the police arrive?

  • Remain calm and follow instructions
  • Keep your hands visible; you don’t want the police to think you are the shooter
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets, or purses)
  • Raise your hands and spread your fingers
  • Avoid quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety
  • Avoid pointing, screaming, or yelling


So remember the main three main points RUN, HIDE, FIGHT!

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