Prepare an Active Threat Response Plan

April 7, 2024

An effective response to an active threat event requires pre-planning and role enforcement through training for employees as well as managers and executives. The training should incorporate a response to scenarios dealing with handguns, long guns, knives, bomb blasts, vehicle assaults, and physical attacks.

FBI statistics indicate more victims are killed by knives than guns every year, yet most training is focused on reactions to a shooter.

The Active Threat Response Plan should mirror the requirements of SB-553, set to go into effect on July 1, 2024. Once the response plan has been developed, tabletop exercises should be implemented.

An active threat response plan should be developed around pre-incident planning and a security risk vulnerability assessment. The physical threat assessment should include security measures to limit access and egress controls to potential perpetrators; to identify escape routes; instant notification a threat is in progress; and notification to first responders.

The actual response plan is developed around Department of Homeland Security protocols initiating run, hide, and fight directives in the event of an attack. Employees should know escape and exit routes to take as a first response to run. Secondly, if exits are sealed, rooms or locations should be identified as places to hide and lock doors. As the last option, if run or hide is not an option, employees should be trained to stack against the wall and attack the perpetrator.

The active threat response plan should also incorporate lines of communication between employees, managers and executives, with training in recognizing warning signs of potential threatening behaviors. The response plan is built around detection, deterrence, and response to a threat.

Lastly, it is very important that once a plan has been implemented, everyone should be required to engage in tabletop training. Remember, people respond to a traumatic event the way they are trained.


Ron Williams, CFS
United States Secret Service-Retired
Talon Companies

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