What to Do in an Active Shooter Situation

It’s one of those things you don’t want to talk or think about, and chances are most of us will never find ourselves in an active shooter situation. However, Premier seeks to empower and equip people with the Armored Mindset.

While we create life-saving products (listed at the end of this blog) we seek to offer solutions for prevention, before intervention. 

Life saving body armor products for preparedness

Just like practicing good situational awareness, knowing what to do during and after an active shooter situation can save your life and the lives of those around you.

But before we get into the specifics of what to do in the event of an active shooter situation, let’s briefly talk about situational awareness – a proactive approach to keeping safe.

Practicing situational awareness in popular areas

Practice Good Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings, where you are supposed to be, what you are supposed to do and whether anyone or anything around you is a potential threat to your health and safety. Below you will find the six steps to practicing good situational awareness.

  • Reduce and Avoid Distractions
  • Be a Hard Target
  • Listen to Your Gut
  • Be Prepared for the Unexpected
  • Carry Personal Protection
  • See Something, Say Something

You can read further from our blog "6 Tips to Improve Situational Awareness"

Whether you’re in the workplace or another populated area, knowing what to do both during and after an active shooting situation is essential.  

Run, Hide, Fight

You may have heard of the term “Run, Hide, Fight” already. It is something taught to children in school as part of code red drills and many workplaces are now covering the concept in employee training. It is a universally recommended three-part response guide to active shooting situations. 

emergency response for an active shooter situation


    • Response #1 - Run: if you can safely evacuate the building or area, do so as quickly as possible. Through good situational awareness, you should already have several potential exits in mind. Once you are safely out of the area, call 911.
    • Response #2 – Hide: if you cannot quickly or safely evacuate, hiding is the next best step in the event of an active shooter situation. The best place to hide is one that is out of the way where the shooter is less likely to find you, has a locking door, provides good protection if shots are fired your way and ideally somewhere that still allows you to safely escape should the situation present itself. Keep calm and be as quiet as possible. Silence your cell phone. Once you are hidden, quietly call 911 if you can.
    • Response #3 – Fight: this should be the last response to an active shooter situation and only if you have no other option available to you. Unless you are trained to deal with such a situation, running and hiding are still your best course of action. Disarming and restraining the shooter is the ultimate goal of the fight response. You must be committed to doing so, which often requires you to risk your life. 

Best Places to Hide During an Active Shooter Situation

Deciding where to hide when you walk into a mall is probably not top of mind. However good situational awareness includes knowing where to go in the event of a high-stress violent situation.

Exiting the building isn’t always going to be the safest option and, in some cases, may not even be possible. But where do you go? Here are a few places to keep in mind.

Image of exits in emergency situations


    • In-store storerooms that can be locked
    • Exterior exit from within stores
    • Bathrooms that can be locked
    • Kitchens and back rooms behind food court vendors


    • Bank vault
    • Safety Deposit Box room
    • Office that can be locked

Use bathrooms to hide during an active shooter emergency

Department Store: 

    • Storerooms that can be locked
    • Changing rooms with locking doors
    • In-store bathrooms
    • In-Store exterior exit

Grocery Store: 

    • Behind the deli counter
    • Coolers
    • In-store bathrooms
    • Employee break room that can be locked
    • Backdoor exit through loading docks

Parking Lot or Garage:

    • Behind parked cars or inside (stay out of view)
    • Nearby stores or buildings
    • Parking Garage Elevator (close the doors and press the stop button. Use the phone to alert law enforcement)

Gas Station:

    • Inside the cooler
    • Behind the counter
    • Behind or in a car (make sure you aren’t visible)

When Law Enforcement Arrives

All law enforcement agencies have a detailed active shooter protocol in place and are trained in how to stop a shooting in progress. The number one priority of law enforcement officers is to neutralize the situation as quickly as possible.

What to do when police arrive at active shooter situation

They likely will not know who the shooter is at first, and until they do, they will assume it could be anyone. Therefore, there are several steps you should take to ensure law enforcement officers are able to do their job and prevent any confusion.

  • Don’t panic and follow instructions
  • Put down anything you’re carrying
  • Raise your arms above your head and spread your fingers wide
  • Do not make quick movements or run toward officers
  • Quietly proceed toward the direction from which the officers have entered the building or stay hidden until the officers tell you its safe
  • Provide officers or 911 with any helpful information, such as the location and description of the shooter if known

Once officers are successfully able to neutralize the situation, paramedics and rescue teams will arrive to provide medical assistance to anyone in need. 

Again, it’s unlikely you’ll ever find yourself in the middle of an active shooter situation but knowing how to keep yourself safe and what to do before, during and after an active shooting can save your life and the lives of those around you. Be sure to review our discreet armor options to have a life-saving solution with you wherever you go. 



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2 Responses

Clare Martin
Clare Martin

November 29, 2023

It’s good that you emphasized that fighting back should be the last response to consider during an active shooter situation since we need to be trained if we want to be able to disarm and restrain the shooter effectively. I currently live alone, and as part of my self-defense training, I want to learn how to handle firearms as well just in case. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for where I can take an active shooter training course here in McKinney soon. https://www.criticaldefensegroup.com/active-shooter-defensive-handgun

Don Gala, PhD
Don Gala, PhD

February 24, 2023

This advice is something that should be shared with all students in Middle School and High School grades. Most people do not know that they should not run toward a police officer during or after a shooting situation. People may, normally, run toward the police officer because they perceive the police officer as their savior. Thank you for sharing this information with your customers and readers.

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