The Basics of Workplace Shooter Training for Employers

Employees must be able to act quickly when there’s an active shooter situation and this is especially important in government offices, schools, commercial buildings and healthcare facilities. Workers should be able to sound the alarm when there’s a threat and then run, hide or fight as soon as possible, and should also try to incapacitate the attacker if possible – but for more about what basic knowledge is expected, read further.

Sound the Alarm

A fire alarm is used during fire drills, and people usually try to move quickly out of a building or space and that can be a good thing when there is no actual threat, but it may not help you survive an active shooter situation. In fact, it could be dangerous and put you in the wrong spot.

If you are in a hallway and the fire alarm goes off, you could easily become a target for the gunman which is becoming an increasingly likely possibility for most Americans, unfortunately, but it’s also not a good idea to pull the fire alarm because it can make the area more chaotic for first responders. They’ll have to juggle multiple calls from different people, resulting in longer rescue times and increased risk of further harm to those who may be trapped by the gunman.


If you are a business owner or manager, you want to ensure that your company is prepared for an active shooter event and the good news is that there are training resources available to help your employees prepare for these events.

You can conduct your own active shooter drills, or you can hire a professional company to conduct an exercise on your behalf because these companies will put your staff in a simulation of a real-life active shooter situation with an actor playing the role of the attacker and have them prepared better than anyone else can.

Employees can choose to run, hide or fight as a response to an active shooter attack, but it is definitely best to train your employees on how to take these actions, as this will ensure that they have the necessary tools to protect themselves and others in the event of an active shooter incident.


Workplace shooter training like this prepares employees to respond quickly and calmly when an active shooter is spotted on campus and whether the attacker is an employee, an outsider, or someone who is disgruntled, a workplace shooting can leave many people devastated.

In the case of a workplace shooter, the first priority is to get away which means running, hiding or fighting so, if possible, run out of the building and move far away from the gunfire/armed person, or if you cannot escape, hide in an area that is out of sight of the gunman.

When you hide, remember to turn out lights, lock doors, and silence your ringer or vibrations mode on your cell phone. Hide behind a large object that will eliminate the shooter’s line of sight, such as a cabinet, desk or bookcase because it will protect you from the gunman while also providing you with protection if you are shot.


There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to help employees survive an active shooter incident and rather, employers should train employees on a variety of techniques. For example, some may consider implementing a hybrid approach that incorporates elements of “Run, Hide, and Fight.”

Mass shootings in the workplace occur in a wide range of businesses, often by disgruntled employees who are acting out in ways that are dangerous to their colleagues, and in addition to being a public health threat, workplace violence can have legal consequences for employers as well.

According to Seamus McGraw, author of From a Taller Tower: The Rise of the American Mass Shooter, these incidents are typically carried out by people who have acquired their weapons only shortly before they planned to commit the crime; whether they are killing people to explain their actions or die without leaving any explanation, they tend to have a similar mindset and motivations.

Defend Yourself

Workplace violence is becoming more common than ever, and it’s important to be prepared for it with things like training and ensuring your workplace is equipped to deal with an incident. You can also train in self-defense ( which is very common. If you think you’re not a good fighter, learning simple self-defense and disengagement techniques can give you a sense of confidence and help you get out of a dangerous situation.

During this type of training, you can practice techniques that can help you break free from physical holds and fend off an assailant when you can also learn how to use pepper spray, mace or knives as defense tools if you feel like you need them. The most common form of defense is running, but if that isn’t an option, you should look at hiding instead.

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