The “run, hide, fight” protocol is intended to help individuals choose the best course of action to offer themselves maximum protection during an active shooter situation. 

An active shooter situation is when an individual is engaged in killing or trying to kill people within a confined area, and there is no pattern or method for the choice of victims. 

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These situations develop very quickly and law enforcement is usually dispatched immediately to bring the situation under control. However, these incidents are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, and considering law enforcement response times, it is best if people present in such situations adhere to the “run, hide, fight” safety measure. 


It is essential to evacuate if possible. One must run away from the sounds of gunfire, and if possible, exit the building or structure where the gunman is present. The aim is to put as much distance between the active shooting and the fleeing individual. 

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While one should try and help others evacuate, there is no call to stay behind if someone refuses to leave. One must exit with their hands visible to law enforcement and should ideally leave their belongings behind for a swifter evacuation. 


If running is not an option, then hiding quietly in a safe space is the next best move during an active shooter incident. 

This usually becomes necessary when the shooter is in close proximity. It is best to choose a hiding spot out of harm’s way with thick walls and few windows. One should turn off lights, lock and barricade the doors, and keep all phones and electronics on silent, so as not to give the position away. 

Windows, shades, and blinds should be closed if possible, and if the active shooter situation is unfolding outside, then one can try and hide behind something that provides cover, like trees, buildings, or walls. If in hiding, one must remain there until an “all clear” notice is issued. 


Fighting is the last resort when neither flight nor hiding helps. This should be the choice only if one’s life is in immediate danger.

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To take the fight to the shooter, people are advised to act aggressively, attempt to disarm the shooter, use fire extinguishers or any other object at hand, and even throw items at the assailant to keep them occupied. 

In all such scenarios, people are advised to call 911 as soon as possible.