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Active Threats

The odds are, you will never face an active shooter incident. You should however be prepared to take action if faced with this threat.

An active threat/active shooter is an event in which one or more persons are actively engaging in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.  In most cases, active shooters use firearms, and there is no apparent pattern or method to their selection of victims.  These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, with immediate deployment of law enforcement officers to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims.

FBI statistics indicate that nearly two thirds of active shooter situations end within five (5) minutes, prior to police arrival, and more than a third end in two (2) minutes or less. What you do in those first seconds to few minutes during one of these unlikely incidents matters.  Please take a few minutes now to prepare and familiarize yourself with the procedures you should employ in such situations.


If faced with an active shooter incident, there are THREE things you can do that make a difference. RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.

RUN – When an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is a way out, and you can get out, GET OUT!  This is your first and best option.
  • Get out whether others agree to or not.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help prevent others from entering the danger zone.
  • Call Penn Police at 215-573-3333, or 511 from a campus phone or at any blue light phone as soon as it is safe to do so.

HIDE – If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide.

  • Lock and/or barricade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone, including the vibrate feature.
  • Hide behind large objects if possible.
  • Remain very quiet and do not leave until directed by law enforcement officers.
  • Your hiding place should:
    • Be out of the shooter’s view.
    • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
    • Do Not trap or restrict your options for movement

FIGHT – AS A LAST RESORT, and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Commit to your actions.
  • Once the shooter is incapacitated, call Penn Police at 215-573-3333, or 511 from a campus phone or at any blue light phone.

POLICE RESPONSE – When law enforcement officers arrive:

  • Keep your EMPTY hands raised and visible, with your fingers spread apart.
  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Avoid pointing or yelling.
  • The first police officers to arrive will not respond to or aid those who are injured.  They will go directly to the shooter.
  • Know that help for the injured is on its way.  Rescue team officers and emergency personnel will care for the injured as soon as possible.
  • The area is a crime scene.  Police officers may secure all witnesses until identified and questioned.
Watch the short video below to learn about key emergency procedures: Evacuate, Shelter-in-Place and Lockdown, and how to respond in an active threat situation.
The longer video below includes a simulated active shooter situation, and guides viewers on how to best respond in the given scenario.

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