Developing an Emergency Action Plan in the Event of an Active Threat

by | Aug 13, 2022 | Emergency Action Plan

Today, emergency evacuations are more common than people realize, including evacuations in the workplace. It is important to have an emergency action plan in place in case there is ever an active threat. Read on to learn how to develop an emergency action plan.


An emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document that is required by Occupational Safety and and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. The purpose of an EAP is to organize and facilitate employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. A well developed emergency plan and employee training, like understanding their roles and responsibilities within the plan, will result in fewer and less employee injuries during emergencies. A poorly developed plan can lead to an unorganized evacuation or emergency response which can result in injury, confusion or property damage. In this blog, we are going to discuss emergency action plans for active shooters.


An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters will use firearms, and there is not a pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations often happen within 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on scene. Individuals must be prepared mentally and physically to deal with active shooter situations. Good practices for coping with an active shooter situation can include:

  • Being aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
  • Taking notes of the nearest exists in any facility.
  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door. If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.


Creating an EAP and conducting training exercises are the best ways to prepare your employees for an active threat situation. The EAP and training exercises will prepare everyone to effectively respond and help minimize loss of life. COMPONENTS OF AN EAP Create the EAP with input from your human resources department, facility owners, property manager and law enforcement. An effective EAP includes:

  • An evacuation policy and procedure
  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments like floor plans and safe areas
  • Contact information and responsibilities of individuals who should be contacted under the EAP
  • Information regarding local hospitals, including name, phone number and distance from your location
  • An emergency notification system to alert individuals at remote locations within the premises


Many emergencies and disasters are no-notice events, meaning there is no warning before they happen. That is why developing an EAP ahead of time is critical and knowing how to respond when an active shooter is in your vicinity: EVACUATE If there is an easy escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  1. Have an escape route and plan in mind
  2. Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  3. Leave your belongings behind
  4. If possible, help others escape
  5. Prevent others from entering the area where the active shooter may be
  6. Keep your hands visible
  7. Follow any instructions given by law enforcement
  8. Call 911 when you are safe

HIDE OUT If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding places should be:

  • Out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in the direction of the locked door
  • Not restrict or trap you from options for movement

To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door
  • Block the door with heavy furniture

If an active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door
  • Silence your phones and/or pagers
  • Hide behind large items, like a desk or cabinet
  • Stay quiet

TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE ACTIVE SHOOTER As the last resort, and only when your life is in danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Yelling
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons

When law enforcement arrives:

  1. Remain calm and follow the officer’s instructions
  2. Put down any items in your hands, immediately raise your hands and keep hands visible at all times
  3. Avoid pointing or yelling
  4. Proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises


Conducting mock active threat training exercises is the most effective way to train your employees to respond to an active threat situation. Training exercises can include:

  1. Recognizing the sound of gunshots
  2. Reacting quickly when gunshots are heard and when a shooting is witnessed including evacuating the area, hiding out and acting against the shooter as a last resort
  3. Calling 911
  4. Reacting when law enforcement arrive
  5. Adapting a survival mindset during times of crisis


According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA):

“Each employer shall furnish to each of his/her employees, employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his/her employees.”

To protect employees, OSHA, recommends:

  • Implementing training programs for employees
  • Training management to respond to workplace emergencies


While you are in the moment of an active threat, we understand that sometimes it can be hard to think clearly without proper knowledge. Having an EAP in place can give you and your employees guidance on how to act to ensure safety. SaferSite was developed to equip individuals with the knowledge and confidence they need that will inspire them to implement crisis solutions in the workplace making them feel safer and more empowered. To develop an EAP for your business, click below to contact us, or call us today at 844-244-2255.