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Introducing active attacker training on campus: Get out. Hide. Fight.

May 22, 2019

Over the next few months, our department will be sending out communications about a new campaign designed to provide community members with information about what to do in the event of an active attacker on campus.

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.

While the chances of this occurring are extremely low, it’s important to have this knowledge

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.

What is an active attacker?

An active attacker may:

An active threat may:

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

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.

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.


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.


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.

Empower yourself with the skills to respond by learning more

We encourage you to:

  1. Visit the Active Attacker page and watch a short training video.
  2. Sign up for a training session to gain hands-on skills.
  3. Share this information with others.


If you have any questions about this campaign, please contact Tanya Poppleton, associate director of community outreach and special projects at 416-979-5000, ext. 554995 or