Emergency Plan for Active Shooter

ISC Active Shooter GuideEmergency Plan for Active Shooter

Interagency Security Committee (ISC) has released a public version of the previous Federal government version of a document titled Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practices Guide.  The document is available for download at ISC Planning and Response Active Shooter Guide.

The ISC consists of 54 Federal departments and agencies, chaired by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The ISC mission is to develop security standards and best practices for nonmilitary Federal facilities in the United States.

DHS defines an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.

Active Shooter Planning Guide

The active shooter planning guide serves as a valuable resource for the private sector to enhance emergency preparedness and benefit from the information already gathered and organized by ISC.

Active Shooter Plan Elements

All nonmilitary Federal facilities are required to have an active shooter preparedness plan, comprised of these elements:

Security Assessment Preparedness Communications Incident Plan Training and Exercises Post Incident Recovery for Employees and Operations

Occupant Emergency Plan

Active shooter considerations may be included as part of another plan, such as an Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP).  An OEP should be reviewed and updated to consider all types of hazards, including workplace violence, an active shooter, or terrorist incident.  Lessons learned from prior incidents and emergencies should be included in plan revisions.

Resource List

The guide includes a list of resources and web links with additional information including past shooting incidents, findings, behavior analysis of the shooter, weapons used, resolution of events, training, equipment and best practices.

Active Shooter Statistics

Statistics on active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013:
The frequency of incidents is increasing.
70% of incidents ended in less than 5 minutes.
60% of incidents ended before police arrived.

40% of incidents ended with shooter committing suicide.
28% of incidents ended when law enforcement engaged the shooter.
13% of incidents ended when unarmed citizens safely and successfully restrained the shooter.
4% of incidents ended when armed individuals other than police exchanged gunfire.
Most common locations were areas of commerce 46%, educational environments 24%, government properties 10%

Emergency Plan Purpose

The plans are intended to minimize the risk to personnel, property, and other assets within a facility if an incident occurs inside or immediately surrounding the facility, by providing facility-specific response procedures for occupants to follow.

Individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation until law enforcement arrives.

Warning Signs, Behavior Analysis

Common motives include anger, revenge, ideology, and untreated mental illness.  Fostering a respectful workplace is one of the best measures for preventing an active shooter incident.

An effective plan will include proactive steps that can be taken by facility tenants to identify individuals who may pose a potential threat of violence.  Employees should learn the warning signs of a potentially volatile situation that could develop into an active shooter incident.

Based on past incidents, warning signs include:
paranoid ideas
delusional statements

changes in personality or performance

disciplinary problems

depressed mood

suicidal ideas

non-specific threats of violence

increased isolation, withdrawal

odd or bizarre behavior

interest in or acquisition of weapons or explosives

recent escalation in target practice and weapons training

interest in previous shootings or attacks

verbal or written threats or bullying

stalking or harassing behavior

property damages

physical aggression


menacing with weapons

physical violence to intimate partners

development of a personal grievance

significant personal loss (real or perceived) such as a death, breakup, divorce, job loss, financial loss

increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
unexplained increase in absenteeism
decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene
resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures
repeated violations of company policies
increased severe mood swings

noticeable unstable, emotional responses
explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation
increased mention of problems at home
escalation of domestic problems into the workplace
talk of previous incidents of violence
empathy with individuals committing violence
Few shooters had previous arrests for violent crimes.

Report to Threat Assessment Team

Warning signs should be recorded and reported to the proper officials, management or security or Threat Assessment Team (TAT) for further evaluation and response. Warning signs reported by multiple people are not isolated incidents and may represent escalating behavior.

Reports to the TAT may be for employees, visitors, customers, vendors, contractors or other persons.  TAT members may review evidence and reports received, websites, social media, public records and other sources during an investigation, and must not violate civil rights, privacy, legal rights, and other applicable Federal and state laws.

Active Shooter Run Hide FightResponse to Potential Threat

There is no definitive best response during an active shooter scenario, but maintaining a run, hide, fight mindset can increase the odds of surviving until law enforcement arrives.  Education, training and emergency practice drills help to prepare occupants for a potential threat.

Prepare a Customized Plan

The active shooter guide is a valuable free resource for businesses and other organizations to use in preparing a customized plan for their facility.  Implementing an emergency plan may save lives, injuries and property damages in an emergency.

DHS Active Shooter Pocket Card

DHS has published an Active Shooter Pocket Card to keep in your wallet or on your smartphone.

Free Online Training Course from FEMA

The Emergency Management Institute of FEMA offers a free 60-minute online Independent Study course at IS-907 Active Shooter: What You Can Do.
Students who pass the course exam earn a course completion certificate.

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