Safety Guidelines for Active Shooter Situations

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Student class closure number:
603.644.3133

Office closure number:
603.645.9760

The messages at these numbers will have the same information found on the "Emergency Preparedness" page and my.snhu.edu


An active shooter is a person who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area; in most cases active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. These situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent victims. This document provides guidance to faculty, staff, and students who may be caught in an active shooter situation, and describes what to expect from responding police officers.

Guidance to faculty, staff, and students
In general, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter, bearing in mind there could be more than one shooter involved in the same situation. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a strategy for survival.

If the shooter is outside the building

  • Turn off all lights and close and lock all windows and doors.
  • Close all window blinds and curtains.
  • If you can do so safely, get all individuals on the floor and out of the line of fire.
  • Move to a core area of the building if safe to do so and remain there until an “all clear” instruction is given by an authorized known voice.

If the shooter is inside the building

  •  If it is possible to flee the area safely and avoid danger, do so.
  • Contact 911 with your location if possible.
  • If flight is impossible, lock all doors and secure yourself in your space.
  • Close all window blinds and curtains.
  • Get down on the floor or under a desk and remain silent.
  • Get individuals on the floor and out of the line of fire.
  • Wait for the “all clear” instruction

If the shooter comes into your class or office

  • There is no procedure that authorities can recommend.
  • Attempt to get the word out to other staff.
  • Call 911 if possible.
  • Do not challenge.  If flight is impossible, attempt to negotiate with the individual.
  • Put distance between yourself and the offender.
  • If possible keep an escape route behind you.
  • Demonstrate an interest in solving the problem.

Reporting suspicious individuals

  • Do not approach a suspect individual yourself. 
  • If you suspect the person is armed or see a weapon, call 911 immediately.
  • Report a suspicious looking individual or activity to Public Safety at 645.9700. 
  • Give your location, name, and reason for calling. 
  • Be ready to supply a physical description of the individual: age, weight, hair color and length, clothing, facial hair and any other distinguishing feature. 
  • If the individual is in a vehicle, attempt to get the vehicle make, model and color as well as the license plate number, if possible.
  • Contact Public Safety as quickly as possible while monitoring the location of the person if feasible.

What to expect from responding police officers
Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard; their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible. The first responding officers will normally be in teams of four (4); they may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment. The officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, or handguns, and might be using pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.

Regardless of how they appear, remain calm, do as the officers tell you, and do not be afraid of them. Put down any bags or packages you may be carrying and keep your hands visible at all times; if you know where the shooter is, tell the officers. The first officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured people; rescue teams composed of other officers and emergency medical personnel will follow the first officers into secured areas to treat and remove injured persons. Keep in mind that even once you have escaped to a safer location, the entire area is still a crime scene; police will usually not let anyone leave until the situation is fully under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Until you are released, remain at whatever assembly point authorities designate.