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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

Active Aggressor

Because an active aggressor incident requires rapid response, the best time to consider how to react is in advance. By familiarizing yourself with your surroundings and possible escape routes, and considering how you might react in such a situation, you can act quickly and more efficiently if the need arises.

There are three options to consider if faced with an active aggressor incident: Run, Hide, or – as a last resort – Fight, if your life is in imminent danger.

  1. RUN – If there is a way to escape the threat and you are reasonably sure you can do so without being harmed, do it. This is your first and best option. Be sure to:
    • Have an escape route in mind.
    • Evacuate regardless if others agree to follow.
    • Leave your belongings behind. (Keep your cell phone in your pocket.)
    • Help others escape, especially those with special needs.
    • Tell others not to enter the area where the active aggressor may be.
    • Keep your hands visible at all times.
    • Follow the instructions of any law enforcement personnel.
    • Do not attempt to move injured people.
    • Call 911 when it is safe to do so and provide the following information:
    • Your name and location
    • Location of the incident (be as specific as possible)
    • Number of aggressors (if known)
    • Number of persons who may be involved
  2. HIDE – If evacuation is not possible, you are told “to shelter in place,” or if the active aggressor is outdoors, find a place to HIDE where the active aggressor is less likely to find you. Choose the best space that is available quickly.
    • Your hiding place should:
      • Be out of the view of the active aggressor.
      • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e. lock or barricade a door by any means available).
      • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement.
    • To prevent an active aggressor from entering your hiding place, you should:
      • Turn off lights.
      • Lock all doors and windows, if possible.
      • Place heavy furniture or equipment in front of any doors (especially if the door does not lock or opens into the hallway).
      • Close blinds, cover and move away from windows.
    • To keep yourself safe while hiding you should:
      • Remain quiet.
      • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks).
      • Silence your cell phone and turn off vibrate mode.
      • Turn off any sources of noise (i.e., radios, TV’s).
      • Don’t respond to voice commands or move barricades until you are sure that commands are coming from police.
      • If you can speak to a dispatcher without being overheard by the assailants, dial 911, to alert police to the situation.
      • If you cannot speak, mute the speaker and leave the line open so the dispatcher can listen. Do not approach emergency responders; let them come to you.
    • If outside when a shooting occurs:
      • Drop to the ground immediately, face down and as flat as possible. If within 20 feet of a safe place or shelter, duck and run for safety.
      • Move or crawl away from gunfire, trying to use any obstacle between you and the gunfire. Remember, obstacles may conceal you from sight, but may not be bulletproof.
      • When you reach a safe place, stay down, do not move. Do not peek or raise your head to try and see what is happening.
      • Wait and listen for further instructions from law enforcement personnel.
  3. FIGHT, as a last resort if your life is in danger. If you cannot evacuate or hide effectively, or have been discovered, be ready to fight.
    • Take steps to incapacitate the active aggressor:
    • Act as aggressively as possible against him or her.
    • Throw any items available at the intruder(s) to distract them (books, backpacks, etc.).
    • Use improvised weapons such as a fire extinguisher or chair.
    • Yell
    • Commit your actions to save your life.