B-Procedure: Active Threat Procedure for Staff

  • Purpose

    Threats upon the public, specifically in schools, have grown in frequency as well as complexity. Since the timing and nature of such threats are impossible to predict, the need for our staff to develop heightened “situational awareness” is essential for everyone's safety. Our resiliency is strengthened by focusing on both proactive as well as reactive situational awareness. 

    Proactive situational awareness is empowering and encouraging everyone to instill a sense of readiness and self-preservation in the event of an active threat. Honing this life skill is an important confidence-building measure and a key step to survivability if an active threat were to happen. Proactive situational awareness is a mindset that encompasses elements of perception, comprehension, and projection which then inform action. It may include the following:

    • Identify the location of the nearest entrances and exits.
    • Identify more than one evacuation path out of the area.
    • Listen for suspicious sounds.
    • Pay attention to individuals whose behavior is suspicious, unusual, or odd.
    • Notice things that appear out of place.
    • Trust your instincts.

    This procedure is focused on reactive situational awareness and is intended to provide guidance for responding in the event an active threat is occurring on school property. Our active threat response plan is based on best practices and tactics that provide staff and students the knowledge and authority to make crucial decisions to save lives. 


    An ACTIVE THREAT is defined as a violent situation in which a person(s) is, or appears ready to be, actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill others on school property. In most cases, this active threat involves an active threat using a firearm(s) and displaying no pattern or method for selection of victims. In some cases, active threats involve other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices intended to cause harm to victims or to impede police and emergency responders. These devices may detonate immediately, have a delayed detonation fuse, or may detonate on contact. 

    A LOCKDOWN is defined as a classroom-based protocol that requires locking the classroom door, turning off the lights and placing students out of sight of any corridor or exterior windows. During a Lockdown, the student is to remain quiet.


    While LOCKDOWN may be a component, and most likely the first measure in the event of an active threat, it is not an exclusive response to unfolding active threat situations where students and staff may be in danger. Instead, it is recommended you RUN-HIDE-FIGHT.

    Event Initiated 

    1. Any person identifying an active threat situation is to begin alerting others at the school and attempt to notify a school administrator. An administrator, when and if possible, will utilize the school’s public address system and/or phone system to alert as many of the building occupants as possible. Do not use the fire alarm.

    • Speak in plain language, using the words ACTIVE THREAT.  
    • Give the location (approximate or detailed) of the incident. 
    • Provide a physical description of the person(s). 
    • Include the type of weapon/threat (if known).
    • Tell the direction or destination (approximate or detailed) the person(s) is heading.

    2. Any person at the location (where the caller can be safely concealed) is encouraged to immediately call 911. Provide the following information to the 911 operator:

      1. Location (approximate or detailed) of the incident. 
      2. Physical description of the person(s). 
      3. Type of weapon/threat (if known).
      4. Direction or destination (approximate or detailed) the person(s) is heading.
      5. Location and condition of any victims.

    Potential Responses

    In response to an ACTIVE THREAT event, there are three potential courses of action beyond the static LOCKDOWN protocol. Individuals will choose a course of action based upon real-time events and circumstances...You can choose to RUN-HIDE-FIGHT. These responses are dynamic and may change as the ACTIVE THREAT situation unfolds. Immediately call 911 if it is possible to do so safely. 

    RUN >

    If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Follow these recommendations:

    1. Leave your belongings behind.
    2. Assist children or others who cannot run to the best of your ability.
    3. If not in charge of students, evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
    4. Do not attempt to move wounded people.
    5. Keep your hands visible.
    6. Follow Police Officer/First Responder instructions.
    7. Prevent others from entering an area where the active threat may be.
    8. Go to the pre-arranged site(s) agreed upon for your location.
    9. Call 911 as soon as you are safe.

    HIDE >

    If evacuation is not possible, find a secure place to hide where the active threat is less likely to find you or directly engage you. Follow these recommendations:


    1. Lock and barricade the door with all heavy furniture and equipment in the room. 
    2. Silence phones and electronic devices and keep students quiet. Dial 911 so the operator can listen to what is going on, even if you cannot talk.
    3. Turn off any source of noise: radios/TV/learning devices.
    4. USE COVER (anything that will protect you from bullets): Full bookcase, masonry wall, heavy desk, etc. and stay low.
    5. USE CONCEALMENT (anything that will protect you from being seen): darkness, desks, chairs, doors. Stay away from doorways and windows that can be seen through.
    6. Have a plan for an alternate means of escape if possible (through a window, adjoining room, etc). Use your escape route as soon as you determine it will enhance your survivability. See RUN above.


    • Lock the door. If possible without making any noise, move items in the room to barricade the door. Follow all the other recommendations above.
    • Get ready to RUN or FIGHT if the active threat gains access.

    FIGHT >

    If it is not possible to RUN or HIDE or if you are confronted face-to-face with an active threat, then you may choose to distract or incapacitate the threat to increase survivability for yourself and your students. Follow these recommendations:

    1. Act as aggressively as possible against the threat.
    2. Yell, create confusion, cause disruption, and distract the threat in any way possible.
    3. Throw items at the threat.
    4. Use improvised weapons (spray with a fire extinguisher, hit with objects, trip, block movement, or hit with chairs and desks).
    5. Help others if possible when you see them attempting to incapacitate the threat.
    6. Ensure students are evacuating as rapidly as possible from the active engagement area.
    7. Once started, commit yourself to carry out defensive physical actions.

    Cooperating with Law Enforcement

    Law enforcement personnel will arrive to respond to the emergency situation. Follow these recommendations:

    • Comply with all police instructions. The first responding officers will be focused on stopping the active threat and that is all.
    • As others arrive they will be clearing areas for follow-on emergency and medical teams.
    1. Remain calm, do what you are told without arguing or second-guessing. If you have information about additional threats or hazards inform them clearly.
    2. Put down any items and raise your hands when coming in contact with officers.
    3. Keep your hands visible at all times.
    4. Avoid making any sudden, quick movements toward officers. Do not try to hold on to them or get close to them for safety.
    5. Avoid pointing, screaming, yelling.
    6. If you find a weapon or have taken a weapon from an active threat, DO NOT carry it in your hands. If safe, leave the item where it is. If it is not safe to leave it, attempt to place it in a safe location or bring it out in a small container such as an office trash can. Put it down as soon as you see law enforcement and tell them what it is.
    7. When evacuating, go the direction the officers are coming from. Do not ask for directions or help.

    When appropriate, be able to provide information that you know to law enforcement/administration:

    1. The number of threats.
    2. Identity and description.
    3. The number of victims you saw and location.
    4. Type and number of weapons possibly in the possession of the threat.
    5. Number and location of individuals still in the building or in danger.

    Post-Incident Action 

    When the police have determined that the active threat emergency is under control, an “ALL CLEAR” will be given. You may not be allowed back into the school immediately. 

    • Accountability: 
      1. If in charge of students, attempt to gain accountability as soon as possible.
      2. Communicate your status and the accountability of your students to the school and/or district administrator on site.
    • Medical Assistance:
      1. Ensure first aid is applied as soon as possible, when in a safe area.  
      2. Treat severe bleeding and life-threatening wounds first (apply pressure with hands, apply dressing and press to wounds, apply tourniquets). 
      3. Enlist all available help to prevent loss of blood, shock, and other trauma conditions.
      4. Report all injuries to medical authorities on site as soon as possible. 
    • Counseling:
      1. Following an active threat event, counseling and other support will be provided by the District and partner community agencies. 
      2. In addition to service and support provided at the school and/or remote locations, employees and family members can contact the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for additional resources.
    • Media: 
      1. The District will designate a representative(s) to respond to any media requests for information. All inquiries should be directed to the designated District contact. All communications should avoid relaying information that could interfere with any ongoing investigation by federal or local law enforcement or district officials.


    US Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter How-To-Respond, October 2008

    US FBI Active Shooter Planning and Response in a Healthcare Setting, April 2015



    This procedure has been coordinated with the local organizations:

    Local Police: Essex Police Department / Phone: (802) 878-8331

    Date: 05/08/19