Conflicting Active Shooter Training Concepts Cause Confusion

Uniform training and protocols will ensure everyone will know how to respond appropriately to a gunman.

The “Run, Hide, Fight” training was developed in conjunction with our campus Office of Environment, Health, and Safety, the Campus Safety Services (CSS) Department, and campus executives. The university president directed all students, faculty and staff to undertake active shooter training during the Spring of 2013. This training also follows local law enforcement plans for active shooter response. If the local police and other mutual aid resources respond, they know how the local colleges and universities are training in the Run, Hide, and Fight method, and using lockdown methods to secure students, faculty, and staff.

The term “lockdown” is somewhat controversial in a college and university setting. Most higher ed campuses are far different than a K-12 campus; which are usually gated or secured to prevent unauthorized entry during school hours. Higher education institutions are generally public or private open spaces not usually gated or secured – they are open and occupied by students, faculty, staff and visitors. It is difficult or impossible to “lockdown” most higher education institutions because the culture of the campuses is perceived as welcoming and open to serve the campus community and adjacent community. Other terms that vary in place of “lockdown” are “secure and deny entry” and “shelter-in-place.” Campuses should use terminology that is familiar and easily understood.


Another Active Shooter training system is called A-L-I-C-E, using the acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE). 

A-L-I-C-E trains students, faculty and staff to take a slightly different approach. First, you alert the authorities of the situation by calling 9-1-1 based on what the caller is witnessing. Other alerts may follow, such as the campus mass warning system. Second, the people lockdown in their affected area. Third, in a lockdown situation, inform others of your plan if the shooter enters the area. Fourth, Counter – if the shooter enters the area, counter with an attempt to escape or evacuate the area. If you are unable to evacuate and are trapped in an area with an active shooter, then launch an offensive that disorients, disarms and surprises the aggressor with any readily accessible objects (weapons) available. Lastly, evacuate
the area as soon as possible when so advised.

Shots Fired on Campus

Another training series is called “Shots Fired on Campus” created by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, emphasizes similar marketing concepts as RUN.HIDE.FIGHT, but uses slightly different terminology and is filmed at a local university setting in Washington State. The “Shots Fired on Campus” video uses the terms:

  • Get Out! – Run-away to a safe location
  • Hide Out! – find a secure area and lockdown
  • Take out the Shooter

Again, this version is a slight variation of other similar concepts.  Yet another training system uses similar, but confusing terminology:

  • React (to the threat
  • Escape (from the threat)
  • Survive (the threat)

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About the Author


With more than 30 years experience, David is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) currently administering the emergency management program at Santa Clara University in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area's Silicon Valley. David managed the UCLA Office of Emergency Management for seven years and pioneered the development of the campus' award-winning "BruinAlert" system. David championed development of emergency plans, policies and procedures in the aftermath of Virginia Tech in 2007 and consults higher education institutions on emergency management issues. David is a subject matter expert in mass casualty incident management, emergency notification systems, comprehensive plan development, emergency organization, EOC design and operations, crisis communications, threat and vulnerability assessment, disaster recovery, grant administration and auditing. In 2009, David and other campus emergency managers provided consult in the development of the first incident management course developed by FEMA/EMI specifically for higher education (IS-100HE, Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS) for Higher Education). Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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