An active shooter or hostile intruder incident can occur under a variety of circumstances, so no guidelines can cover specific actions to take in every situation. Even so, being familiar with these guidelines can help you to plan your own survival strategy for a variety of incidents.
While the information provide here refers primarily to academic areas, these procedures are also relevant to all areas of the University including the Residence Halls, Maria Hall and Webster Village Apartments.
An active shooter is a person who is using a firearm with the intent to injure or kill others in a populated area. Webster University Department of Public Safety personnel are not armed and cannot take out a shooter. They will respond to the area to assist with any immediate medical needs; assist in evacuation procedures; assist in containment and be the eyes and ears for responding law enforcement personnel.
Law Enforcement personnel will deploy to the area of an active shooter with the primary goal of stopping the shooter. Members of the University community (students, faculty and staff) who encounter an active shooter or hostile intruder should adhere to the following guidelines.
An Active Shooter Outside Your Building
Do not confront or try to apprehend the intruder.
Faculty should immediately lock/barricade the students and themselves in their classroom. If possible cover any windows or openings that have a direct line of sight into the hallway. Barricade the doors with desk, tables, etc.
If not in a room at the time, proceed to a room that can be locked. On your way to the room, tell as many people as possible to do the same.
Lock all doors and windows; close all blinds or curtains and turn off the lights. Stay away from the windows. Do not try to “see what's happening”.
Do not sound the fire alarm. A fire alarm would signal the occupants to evacuate the building and thus place them in potential harm as they attempt to exit.
Call Public Safety from a cell phone and be prepared to advise the dispatcher with the following information:
- Your location
- Your name
- Number of people in the room with you
- Information you have on the shooter
Keep everyone together.
Remain in the room until advised by law enforcement personnel to exit the building. Do not respond to voice commands or fire alarms.
Active Shooter Inside Your Building
Determine if the room you are in or near can be locked. If so, follow the procedures as indicated above.
If the room can not be locked, you have two options:
- Locate the nearest exit and determine whether or not you can exit the building in safety.
- If you cannot exit the building safely, lock or barricade the doors of the room you are in with desk, tables, etc. If communication is available, immediately call the Department of Public Safety at 968- 6911. Never assume that someone else has called Public Safety.
- If you can safely leave the building, do so by following the instructions listed below under “Exiting a building safely.”
Active Shooter Enters Your Office or Classroom
Try to remain calm and call Public Safety, if possible.
If you are unable to speak, leave the phone line open so that dispatchers can hear what is taking place.
If you can not escape or hide, you must decide what to do next. Some options are:
- Try to negotiate with the shooter
- Pretend to be unconscious
- As a last resort, try to overpower the shooter with force
Active Shooter Catches You In The Open
If for some reason you are caught in an open area such as a hallway or lounge, etc., you must decide what you are going to do. This is a very crucial time and it can possibly mean life or death.
- You can try to hide, but make sure it is a well-hidden space or you may be found as the intruder moves through the building or area looking for victims. Take into consideration the area in which you are hiding. Will I be found here? Is this really a good spot to remain hidden?
- If you think you can safely make it out of the building or area by running, then do so. If you decide to run, do not run in a straight line. Attempt to keep objects such as desks, cabinets, fixtures, etc., between you and the hostile person/s. Once outside, do not run in a straight line. Use trees, vehicles and other objects to block you from the intruder's view. When away from the immediate area of danger, summon help any way you can and warn others.
- If the person/s is causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide, you may choose to play dead if other victims are around you.
- Your last option if you are caught in an open area in a building may be to fight back. This is dangerous, but depending on your situation, this could be your last option.
- If you are caught by the intruder and are not going to fight back, obey all commands.
Exiting Building Safely
- Have a route planned before attempting to leave
- Do not attempt to carry anything with you while fleeing
- Move quickly and keep your hands visible as you exit the building
- Do not attempt to treat or remove injured people but note their locations so that you may provide that information to emergency responders.
- Proceed to a safe location, but do not leave campus. Keep in mind that the entire area is still a crime scene and officers will need to obtain information from you before you leave. Remain at whatever assembly area is designated until you are released.
- At all times, comply with commands of law enforcement officers.
What To Expect From Responding Officers
Police officers responding to an active shooter may be wearing regular uniforms or may have special tactical gear but will be clearly identified as law enforcement officers. Responding officers are trained to proceed immediately to the area where shooting is taking place. If you are injured, those officers will not stop to assist you. Another group of officers and/or tactical medics will follow to provide medical assistance. Remain calm and comply with all commands from law enforcement officers.
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