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Critical Event Support with SISC - Self Insured Schools of California-

Planning, coping, and recovery resources when tragedy strikes.

Active Shooter: Training and Preparing Your Staff

To best prepare your staff for an active-shooter situation, create an emergency action plan (EAP), and conduct training exercises. Together, the EAP and training exercises will prepare your staff to effectively respond and help minimize loss of life.

Components of an Emergency Action Plan

Create the EAP with input from several stakeholders, including your human resources department, your training department (if one exists), facility owners and operators, your property manager, and local law enforcement or emergency responders. An effective EAP includes

  • A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies
  • An evacuation policy and procedure
  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments (i.e. floor plans, safe areas)
  • Contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under the EAP
  • Information concerning local area hospitals (i.e. name, telephone number, and distance from your location)
  • An emergency notification system to alert various parties of an emergency, including
    • Individuals at remote locations within premises
    • Local law enforcement
    • Local area hospitals

Components of Training Exercises

The most effective way to train your staff to respond to an active-shooter situation is to conduct mock active-shooter training exercises. Local law enforcement is an excellent resource in designing training exercises.

Components to train for include

  • Recognizing the sound of gunshots
  • Reacting quickly when gunshots are heard or when a shooting is witnessed:
    1. Evacuating the area
    2. Hiding out
    3. Acting against the shooter as a last resort
  • Calling 911
  • Reacting when law enforcement arrives
  • Adopting the survival mind-set during times of crisis

Additional Ways to Prepare for and Prevent an Active-Shooter Situation


  • Ensure that your facility has at least two evacuation routes.
  • Post evacuation routes in conspicuous locations throughout your facility.
  • Include local law enforcement and first responders during training exercises.
  • Encourage law enforcement, emergency responders, SWAT teams, K-9 teams, and bomb squads to train for an active-shooter scenario at your location.


  • Foster a respectful workplace.
  • Be aware of indications of workplace violence, and take remedial actions accordingly.

For more information on creating an EAP, contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration via Link opens in a new window

Preparing for and Managing an Active-Shooter Situation

Your human resources department and facility managers should engage in planning for emergency situations, including an active-shooter scenario. Planning for emergency situations will help to mitigate the likelihood of an incident by establishing the mechanisms described below.

Human Resources' Responsibilities

  • Conduct effective employee screening and background checks.
  • Create a system for reporting signs of potentially violent behavior.
  • Make counseling services available to employees.
  • Develop an EAP that includes policies and procedures for dealing with an active-shooter situation, as well as after-action planning.

Facility Manager Responsibilities

  • Institute access controls (i.e. keys, security system pass codes).
  • Distribute critical items to appropriate managers and employees, including
    • Floor plans
    • Keys
    • Facility personnel lists and telephone numbers
  • Coordinate with the facility's security department to ensure the physical security of the location.
  • Assemble crisis kits containing
    • Radios
    • Floor plans
    • Staff roster and staff emergency contact numbers
    • First aid kits
    • Flashlights
  • Place removable floor plans near entrances and exits for emergency responders.
  • Activate the emergency notification system when an emergency situation occurs.

Reactions of Managers During an Active-Shooter Situation

Employees and customers are likely to follow the lead of managers during an emergency situation. During an emergency, managers should be familiar with their EAP and be prepared to follow these steps:

  • Take immediate action.
  • Remain calm.
  • Lock and barricade doors.
  • Evacuate staff and customers via a preplanned evacuation route to a safe area.

Assisting Individuals with Special Needs or Disabilities

Ensure that EAPs, evacuation instructions, and any other relevant information address individuals with special needs or disabilities. Your building should be handicap accessible, in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.


Security Management Group International (SMGI). (n.d.). Workplace violence desk reference. Dublin, CA: Author.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). (2001). How to plan for workplace emergencies and evacuations (OSHA Pub. No. 3088). Retrieved May 24, 2024, from

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Cyber & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). (2017). Active shooter: How to respond. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from

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