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Active Attacker

While the chances of an active threat situation occurring on campus are extremely low, it’s important for Ryerson community members to know what to do in case it happens.

This kind of training has become increasingly common and standardized across Canadian post-secondary institutions and is part of the university’s commitment to proactively plan for rare, but possible, emergency situations.

The message is simple: Get out. Hide. Fight.

When there are cases of active shooters in the news, we often ask “What would I do if that happened to me?” Research of active threat events across North America (specifically those involving active shooters) has shown that being prepared can increase your chances of survival should you ever find yourself in this situation. This information can help you to overcome the freeze response that prevents quick action if you are faced with an active attacker.

Ultimately, each individual is responsible for their own actions and their own safety, regardless of their role. That’s why it’s important that all community members—students, faculty and staff—familiarize themselves with this information. Those who have completed training reported that it brings a sense of empowerment and peace of mind.

Key message: Get out. Hide. Fight.

The key message of get out, hide, fight is simple and memorable, and represents the options you should consider if you ever face an active attacker.

Training video

Get started with our training video, which guides you through these three options.

Warning: Sensitive content 

This video contains a dramatization of a school shooting that has been made to be realistic. Some viewers may find it upsetting.

Audio descriptions included 

This video includes audio descriptions, a narration that describes what is happening on-screen. This feature increases the inclusion for users who may be blind or low-vision.

Other ways to gain this knowledge

If you would prefer not to view the video, you can also read the google doctranscript of the video, external link, opens in new window, choose not to watch the video, but rather listen to the audio, or read the content on this webpage for the key messages.

Know your options

Keep in mind that the option you choose to adopt may vary depending on the active threat situation you are in. Each situation is different and unpredictable.

Moreover, while the options are presented in a sequence, there is no set formula. These steps are not linear.

Get out

If you can, get out.

If you're in an open area, look for your nearest, safest escape and get there as quickly as you can. Keep solid structural objects between you and the attacker and get as far away from them as possible. If it is safe to do so, call 911.

Hide

If you can’t leave, hide.

Hide with as many others as you safely can. Get behind solid structures that can't be penetrated by weapons or weapon fire. Lock, barricade and stay away from the door. Close windows, blinds and turn off lights. Stay quiet and mute phones. Wait until help arrives.

Fight

As a last resort, fight.

You should only confront an active attacker if you have somehow become trapped in a space with no escape. The goal is to create a counter measure. Use any object to attempt to distract, stop or incapacitate the active attacker so you can get away.

Additional guidelines

  • don't react to alarms, such as fire alarms, unless smoke or fire is evident
  • don't open doors to anyone; wait to be advised by authorities
  • don't move from your hiding place unless it's no longer safe to stay there, or until law enforcement declare it safe to leave

Our primary reason for providing this information is that it can help to overcome the freeze response that prevents quick action if you are faced with an active attacker.

Our department has been frequently asked for this information and those who have completed training reported that it brings a sense of empowerment and peace of mind.

An active attacker may:

  • display a weapon (e.g. firearm, knife, etc.)
  • actively engage in threatening conduct or behaviour
  • show no reasoning behind their selection of victims

An active threat may:

  • begin without warning
  • cause confusion and panic
  • result in people having a ‘freeze’ response
  • involve firearms or knives
  • involve explosive devices to cause additional harm and to impede response

Responsibilities of supervisors and people in charge

If you are a supervisor (e.g. professor, instructor, teaching assistant, chair, academic director, event organizer, project manager, etc.) or person in charge of students, faculty, staff, visitors, guests, contractors, etc. you might wonder what is expected of you in the event of an active threat situation.

If you have participated in active threat training and if you are comfortable to do so, you can engage the principles you have learned  (to get out, hide, fight) and guide the individuals around you.

Ultimately, each individual is responsible for their own actions and their own safety.

For leaders of employees with disabilities

Leaders have an important responsibility to discuss emergency information and procedures with all new employees (including internal transfers and promotions), as soon as possible after their start date as part of the onboarding process. Leaders should review the PDF fileLeaders' Guide to Onboarding for further details.

If you have any questions about how this applies to active attacker responses, please contact Tanya Poppleton, associate director of community outreach and special projects at 416-979-5000, ext. 554995 or tanya.poppleton@ryerson.ca.

Only you can decide how to respond

Each individual has the agency to make decisions based on their individual abilities and evaluation of the situation. Some individuals might feel empowered and able to fight, while others might opt to hide or get out. In case of a fire, the generally recommended procedure is to evacuate, but not all individuals will choose to do so.

Regardless of your age, skills and abilities, these are options for you to consider if you’re in an active threat situation. You may or may not choose to use these tools, as only you can decide how you will respond if faced with an active attacker.

Sign up for training

If you are seeking additional training on how to respond to an active attacker, either for yourself or for your team or department at Ryerson, we encourage you to consider these options and sign up.

Summary

This 2-hour session will provide participants with information, knowledge and tools to respond in the case of an active threat situation on campus. This will be followed by a discussion period.

Overview

Facilitators will elaborate on the options that are available to participants in an active attacker situation. The aim of this training is to make participants aware of these options should they ever find themselves in this rare, but possible, emergency scenario.

The session will consist of a brief introduction, followed by a presentation of the training video, background, context and a review of the option-based responses that can be employed if you are faced with an active attacker.

Key learning outcomes

Options-based strategies you can employ in the case you are faced with an active attacker.

Upcoming sessions

Summary

This 4-hour session will provide participants with information, knowledge and tools to respond in the case of an active threat situation on campus. Includes hands-on exercises, activities and scenario-based discussion.

Overview

Facilitators will elaborate on the options that are available to participants in an active attacker situation. The aim of this training is to make participants aware of these options should they ever find themselves in this rare, but possible, emergency scenario.

The session will consist of a brief introduction, followed by a presentation of the training video, background, context and a review of the option-based responses that can be employed if you are faced with an active attacker. Throughout the training, participants will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on exercises and scenario-based discussion to reinforce the key messages, with the aim that participants can employ these strategies themselves.

Key learning outcomes

  • Options-based strategies you can employ in the case you are faced with an active attacker.
  • Hands-on exercises and techniques to utilize in this emergency scenario.
  • Scenario-based discussion based on potential active attacker situations.

Upcoming sessions

Our sessions can be customized for a Ryerson department or unit, specific to the unique needs of your operations and space.

If you are interested in a customized training session for your Ryerson department or unit, please contact Tanya Poppleton, associate director of community outreach and special projects at 416-979-5000, ext. 554995 or tanya.poppleton@ryerson.ca.