The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued guidance and best practices on responding to an active shooter. In keeping with this guidance, Chestnut Hill College has adopted the following crisis protocol.
An active shooter is a person(s) who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area; in most cases active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims.
In general, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter, bearing in mind there could be more than one shooter involved in the same situation. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a strategy for survival.
If safe to do so, Call 911 or notify Campus Security (215-242-7777 from a cell phone and ext. 7777 from any campus phone) immediately and report the incident, including the following information:
- Location of the incident
- Number of shooters (if more than 1)
- Physical description of shooter(s)
- Number and types of weapons
- Number of potential victims
Depending on the location of the shooter, the following is meant to serve as guidelines for response:
If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate. Be sure to:
- Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
- Leave your belongings behind
- Keep your hands visible
- Help others escape, if possible
- Do not attempt to move or help wounded people
- Follow the instructions of law enforcement
If evacuation is not possible, find a place where the active shooter is less likely to find you. When possible:
- Lock the door
- Blockade the door with heavy furniture
- Silence any cell phones and turn off any sources of noise (TV, radio, etc.)
- Turn off lights
- Remain quiet
- Hide behind large items (cabinets, desks, bookcases, etc.)
- Call 911 and keep the line open to allow the dispatcher to listen
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
- Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
- Throwing items and improvising weapons
The City of Houston has created a widely used active shooter training video that can be found at the link below. Please note that this video contains sensitive and somewhat graphic material and may be upsetting to some people, but we believe it is a valuable resource to share.
When law enforcement arrives, their primary purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the location of the last known shots; they will not stop to help injured persons.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s complete guide on responding to an active shooter can be found online at https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/active_shooter_booklet.pdf.