How Schools Can Plan for Active Shooter Events

A guide on how schools can prepare and prevent active shooter events.

The frequency of active shooter events in schools has increased in recent years, and this is a cause of concern for educators, parents, and students alike. The potential loss of life and the psychological impact on those involved can be devastating. In light of this, it is important for schools to plan and prepare for such incidents. This resource will explore how schools can plan for active shooter events.

According to the FBI's website and their Active Shooter Safety Resources, an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area, and recent active shooter incidents have underscored the need for a coordinated response by law enforcement and others to save lives. The FBI is committed to working with its partners to protect schools, workplaces, houses of worship, transportation centers, other public gathering sites, and communities.

Establish a Threat Assessment Team

The first step in planning for an active shooter event is to establish a threat assessment team. This team should include representatives from various departments, including the principal, school counselor, school resource officer, and school safety officer. The threat assessment team should work closely with law enforcement agencies to identify potential threats and create a plan for responding to such incidents.

Develop an Emergency Response Plan

The second step is to develop a comprehensive emergency response plan (ERP). This plan should outline procedures for responding to an active shooter event, including procedures for lockdown, evacuation, and communication. The ERP should also include instructions for contacting law enforcement and emergency services, and procedures for managing injuries and providing first aid.

Emergency Response Plan Outline

Below is an outline for a comprehensive emergency response plan for active shooter incidents:

I. Introduction

A. Purpose of the Plan

B. Scope of the Plan

C. Plan Development

II. Planning and Preparedness

A. Threat Assessment Team

B. Risk Assessment

C. Communication Protocols

D. Emergency Notifications

E. Access Control

F. Identification Badges

G. Security Cameras

H. Lockdown Procedures

I. Evacuation Procedures

J. Training Exercises

III. Response Procedures

A. Initial Response

B. Notification

C. Lockdown

D. Evacuation

E. Shelter-in-Place

F. Accountability

G. Communication with Law Enforcement

H. First Aid and Medical Assistance

IV. Recovery Procedures

A. Reunification of Students and Staff

B. Counseling and Support Services

C. Media Relations

D. Assessment of Damage and Cleanup

E. Review and Evaluation of Response

V. Appendices

A. Emergency Contact Information

B. Building and Site Maps

C. Crisis Communication Templates

D. Forms and Checklists

E. Resources

The above outline is a general structure for an emergency response plan for active shooter incidents, and it may need to be adapted to suit the specific needs and circumstances of a particular school. The key is to have a plan in place that can be easily understood, followed, and executed in the event of an active shooter incident. The plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains effective and relevant.

Conduct Active Shooter Training Exercises

In addition, schools should conduct regular training exercises to ensure that staff and students are prepared to respond to an active shooter event. These exercises should include simulations of various scenarios, such as a shooter in the hallway, a shooter in the classroom, and a shooter in the schoolyard. Training exercises should also include communication drills to ensure that everyone knows how to communicate effectively during an emergency.

Adopt New and Emerging Technology

Another important aspect of planning for an active shooter event is the use of technology. Schools can install security cameras and alarms to help detect and deter potential threats. They can also implement an emergency notification system to quickly alert staff and students of an active shooter event.

Moreover, schools should work closely with mental health professionals to identify and address potential threats. Early intervention and support for students who may be experiencing mental health issues can prevent a potential active shooter event. Schools should provide students and staff with access to mental health services and encourage open communication about mental health concerns.

Collaborate with Community Members

Finally, schools should collaborate with parents and the broader community to ensure that everyone is informed and involved in the planning process. This can include hosting community meetings to discuss emergency preparedness, providing resources and information on the school website, and encouraging parents to practice emergency response procedures at home.


In conclusion, planning for an active shooter event is essential for schools to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff and students. By establishing a threat assessment team, developing a comprehensive ERP, conducting regular training exercises, utilizing technology, collaborating with mental health professionals, and involving the broader community, schools can be better prepared to respond to potential threats. It is crucial that schools prioritize the safety and security of their staff and students and take proactive measures to prevent and respond to active shooter events.

About the Author

John Carter
Community and Engagement Manager

Community and Engagement Manager at Apex Officer