Active Shooter: What You Can Do

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and other populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.


Contact CPSO at 503-725-4407 to schedule a training session for your department, school or group.

Response Procedures:

The information below provides a set of guidelines for active shooter incidents on campus. However, every incident varies, making it impossible to provide an absolute answer for every situation. These safety tips and guidelines are not all inclusive, but if understood, reviewed periodically and trained on when feasible, can increase your chances of surviving an active shooter. Research into active shooter events in the last 30 years show that a shooters path to violence often involves pre-attack behaviors and indicators. The use of a multi-disciplinary threat assessment and management team can interrupt this path. At Portland State University the CARE team provides this function and is connected to both the regional and statewide threat assessment teams. If you are concerned about a student or community member, share your concerns with Campus Public Safety or the CARE team.

CARE team:

The CARE team includes professionals from Student Life, Student Health and Counseling Center, Housing, Campus Public Safety Office and others who assist students in crisis. As a faculty and staff member, you are able to help connect students to support services. Examples include students who behave in an aggressive or out-of-control way or talk about hurting someone or themselves. The CARE team focuses on prevention and intervention and is always available to respond. For more information, go to

Access Control:

Depending on the location of the shooter, PSU may selectively lock exterior doors of buildings. Restricting building access and the use of card readers reduces unauthorized intruders access to university spaces.


In an active shooter event your first notification may be from the event itself. Use this opportunity to alert others in plain and concise language to inform them of the danger. Call 911 or CPSO (503-725-4404) An emergency notification will also be issued through PSU Alert, our emergency communications system used to send notifications to your cell phone and email account. PSU encourages all students, faculty and staff to sign up for the PSU Alert Notification System by logging into Banweb.

How to Respond in an Active Shooter Situation:

An active shooter response is dynamic and situationally driven with a goal of reducing a shooter’s ability to inflict death or serious physical injury. Consistent with current trends and recommendations from Homeland Security, law enforcement leadership organizations, and research, this goal can be achieved by removing yourself from an area of danger (Run), reducing a shooters ability to reach victims (Hide), or to disrupt a shooter (Fight). You must determine your best course of action. This should be based on your knowledge and assessment of the circumstances (e.g., proximity to the event, actions of the shooter, available escape options and your individual capacity).

Evacuate or Run:
  • Have an escape route planned
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Move rapidly and deliberately, utilizing chairs, desks, and other objects to conceal your movement and provide protection if necessary until you reach a safe place.
  • Depending on the shooter’s location, consider exiting through windows. Have someone watch the door as you get as many out the windows (ground floor) as calmly and quietly as possible.
Hide or Barricade:
  • If possible, lock the door. If the door has no lock and the door opens in, use heavy furniture or other items to barricade the door.
  • If possible, darken the room.
  • Be low and silent, including putting cellphones on quiet or vibrate.
  • If your life is in imminent danger, attack.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
When the Police Arrive:
  • Remain calm and follow officers’ instructions
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
  • Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling
  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating 

Always notify the police department as soon as it is safe to do so. Call 911 or CPSO 24-Hour Emergency number 503-725-4404

Employee Assistance:

PSU has partnered with our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Cascade Centers to provide a full range of support services to all PSU employees and their dependents for the remainder of October and the month of November. Employees can contact the EAP at 503-639-3009 and advise the intake specialist that you work at PSU. Additional information and online resources are also available on the Cascade Centers' website


YouTube video for RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Event, courtesy of the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.