25 Tasks to Consider When Developing a Response Plan for Armed Assaults

Here’s a simple list to help you improve your active shooter response plans.

The following article originally ran as part of a larger story titled Active Incident Training, Preparing for the Future Threat.

The sheer scope of an active shooting incident is almost too large to exercise.

Below I consider just a few (25) of the considerations/ tasks a department must address if it is to develop a flexible and effective capability against an armed assault on campus. We must ask ourselves to what extent are we exercising these required capabilities.

1. Establish an incident command post in a safe location

2. Identify safe ingress routes and staging areas

3. Exercise for all types of potential incidents; not just those involving firearms

4. Deal with the media who might enter the crime scene, potentially jeopardizing their own and others’ lives, contaminating evidence, slowing response, etc.

5. Coordinate with other agencies, both to enhance the response and to avoid blue-on-blue violence

6. Agency-specific and joint communications requirements and protocols (Does dispatch participate in training exercises?)

7. Deal with distraught parents arriving at the scene

8. Deal with concealed carry permit holders who happen to be on campus

9. Deal with vehicle-borne and booby trap bombs in the building under attack as well as secondary locations

10. Deal with evacuees and ensure none are shooters

11. Train nonsworn staff to play a positive role in the response

12. Perimeter operations

13. Traffic control, both for incoming responders and evacuating college personnel

14. Anticipate what to do if an active incident transitions to a hostage/barricade situation, which requires completely different tactics, such as slowing things down and negotiation

15. Intelligence gathering from evacuees

16. Tourniquet application, officer self-aid and officer rescue

17. Breaching operations

18. Deal with a suicide bomber

19. Officer comfort in an extended scenario

20. Officer recall

21. Continuity of operations at non-involved campuses

22. Keep senior college administrators informed

23. Identify/man family reunification points, along with protocols to keep everyone safe

24. Rescue Task Force, Protected Corridor and Casualty Collection Point operations

25. Post incident evidence collection, control and crime
scene management

Read Next: A Path to Developing Effective Incident Response Teams at Your School

About the Author


Lt. John Weinstein is the commander of Northern Virginia Community College Public Safety District 3.

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