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Active Shooter

Schools should be safe places for everyone.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.  It’s vital that schools be well-prepared for all kinds of safety incidents—including the possibility of an active shooter on campus.  And administrators, teachers, and parents are seeking information on how to best prevent an active shooter incident from occurring and how to protect students and staff if they are faced with an active shooter on a school campus.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) changed the word “individual” in the DHS’s definition to the plural  – “individuals” – because “some incidents involved two or more shooters.”  They also removed the word “confined” in the DHS’s definition “as the term confined could omit incidents that occurred outside a building.”  Based on this altered definition, the FBI found an increase in the number of deaths attributed to active shooter incidents.

recent study by the FBI confirms what we all know—the rate of active shooter incidents in the United States continues to rise in frequency, now averaging more than one per month.  And new FBI statistics show the highest average of incidents ever in a two-year period during 2014-2015, with 20 incidents in each of the years.  The most common location of an active shooter incident is a business (40%), while schools (including K-12 and Higher Education institutions) are the second most common location (29%).

Unlike a defined crime, such as a murder or mass killing, the active aspect inherently implies that both law enforcement personnel and citizens have the potential to affect the outcome of the event based upon their responses.  School administrators and staff play a critical role in navigating the response to an active shooter situation, as well as many other more common types of school emergencies, and may have the opportunity to prevent a tragedy or to save a life.  That’s why it’s essential that all administrators and staff be properly trained for the possibility of violent situations on a school campus so they know how to ideally prevent such an incident, or if one should occur, minimize the loss of life.

How the SafeSchools Online Training System Can Help

To help K-12 schools and districts with this critical topic, the SafeSchools Online Training System has an Active Shooter: Administrators course and an Active Shooter: Staff course that include evidence-based strategies and proven techniques that increase the odds of survival in an active shooter situation.

The goal of our Active Shooter courses is to prepare school administrators and staff members for active shooter situations by providing information on how they occur and how they may be more effectively prevented.  The courses are designed to help administrators and staff more effectively address any active aggressor, regardless of the type of weapon he or she uses.  After taking these courses, school administrators and staff should:

  • Know the facts about school shootings.
  • Understand how to reduce the likelihood of active shooter situations.
  • Learn evidence-based methods to improve the odds of survival during an active shooter event.
  • List actions to take in the event of an active shooter situation.

Our Active Shooter courses are written by industry experts, Chris Dorn, Michael Dorn, and Phuong Nguyen from Safe Havens International, the world’s leading international, non-profit campus safety organization.

Chris Dorn

Chris Dorn has published five books on school safety and is a co-author of Staying Alive – How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters, a heavily researched book on life and death decision-making.  Chris has keynoted conferences in more than 25 states and at Vietnam National University in Saigon, Vietnam.  Chris has assisted with school security assessments for hundreds of public and non-public schools as well as for five state-wide school security assessment projects.  A co-author of the IS 360 Active Shooter Training Program, Chris’ work has taken him to Mexico, Bolivia, Canada, France, England, Holland, South Africa and Vietnam.

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn is one of the most credentialed school and campus safety experts in the nation.  He is the Executive Director of Safe Havens International and a graduate of the FBI National Academy.  He is routinely used as a resource by the FBI, U.S. Department of Education, National Emergency Management Association, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and many other state and local agencies.  Michael is also a co-author for the IS 360 Active Shooter Training Program for the 2013 White House School Safety Initiative.

Phuong Nguyen

Phuong Nguyen is the Director of Public Information for Safe Havens International.   The content editor for the book Staying Alive – How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters, Phuong also helped author the IS 360: Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents: A Guide for Schools, Higher Education, and Houses of Worship web training program on active shooter prevention and preparedness for the United States of Education as part of the 2013 White House School Safety Initiative.