How to Respond in an Active Attacker Situation


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Keep your hands visible.


  • Your second options should be to hide.
  • Do not huddle together, because it makes an easy target.
  • Lock and barricade doors and shut off lights.


  • Fighting is a last resort to be used only when your life is in imminent danger.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the attacker.
  • Find an object to use as a weapon, such as a fire extinguisher or chair.

Run if you can, hide if you can’t, and fight as a last resort.

Buena Vista University Campus Security would like to remind students, employees, and visitors to familiarize themselves with an Active Attacker Response Protocol, as emergency preparation for the possibility of encountering a potentially life-threatening situation.

We understand that it can be uncomfortable or unnerving to think about the possibility that an active attack could occur on our campus or anywhere. Please know this training is not intended to create fear, but instead promote preparedness. Campus Security wants the community to have a plan to respond should you be faced with the reality of a random act of violence.

The University’s Active Attacker Response Protocol is based upon three action steps: Run, Hide and Fight. This concept is endorsed at local, state and federal levels, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FBI. These tools are necessary to help you think clearly and act quickly in the face of an attack. This hopefully will result in saving lives during the first critical moments of an emergency.

For the first couple of minutes of an attack, people must be able to think for themselves, act for themselves, and, if necessary, defend themselves, until the police can get there. So those first few minutes are critical, as acting quickly and decisively can be a matter of survival in a high-anxiety situation. 

Please note that the run, hide, and fight action steps may not always occur in this order, so memorizing them all as possible options regardless of order is key to a quick response.

Campus Security also recommends the following additional guidance to community members on what to do during each step in the process.


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Make sure it is safe to leave the area you are in. Use your eyes and ears to determine if it is safe to run.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Once in a safe place, call 911 and give detailed information about what is happening. Don’t assume someone else has already called the police.


  • If unable to run from the danger, your second option should be to hide.
  • Find a place that is out of the attacker’s sight and remain quiet.
  • Do not huddle together, because it creates an easier target.
  • Lock and barricade doors with whatever is available, such as desks, chairs, or door wedges. Shut off lights.


  • Fighting is a last resort to be used only when your life is in imminent danger. (However, sometimes fighting may be the first and only option.)
  • Find an object to use as a weapon, such as a fire extinguisher, backpack, book or chair.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the attacker; commit to your actions; work with others to disarm the assailant.

Flight, Hide, Fight:  Active Shooter Training Video

This video contains intense depictions of violence. It is designed in a realistic manner to educate the BVU community on best practices for responding to a violent attack. However, it does not provide comprehensive guidelines for all scenarios and does not guarantee safety. Viewer discretion is advised. See the video at

Employees who may find it difficult to review such subject matter can seek support through the BVU’s LifeWorks-Employee Assistance Program ( The password can be found in Beavernet under employee benefit information. Students at the University can find support through Counseling Services.  

Text Alerts

A report of an active shooter or attacker would result in rapid response by law enforcement to the scene and communication to the community by email, text, BVU alert and using the University’s Rave Alert system. Initial alert messages would quickly be followed by critical information and regular updates. 

All BVU students are automatically signed up to receive Rave Alert messages by text and email. BVU employees and anyone else can choose to receive messages by text message or phone call as well by visiting In the event of an emergency, This Alert will be used to provide the campus community with critical information.


Our best defense to prevent a shooting before it happens is to be aware of friends, classmates, and community members who might be showing signs of violence and help connect them with relevant resources. In many cases with school shooting, the person indicated or told someone else they were going to carry out their plan. Always take these threats seriously and act quickly. Notify Campus Security or any employee of these threats immediately. Campus officials may be able to further assess the individual and/or the situation to help determine what type of intervention is warranted. 

The following behaviors are red flags that merit assessment or intervention, especially if they seem out of character in the person concerned:

  • Continuous or excessive anger issues
  • Becoming easily agitated
  • Revealing an obsession with violence or death
  • Suddenly distancing themselves from others or becoming withdrawn
  • Collecting large amounts of firearms
  • Talking about suicide, especially killing others and then hurting themselves