College and University campuses are no longer immune to serious or violent crime. In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, it is imperative that students, staff and faculty know how to respond during potentially violent criminal attacks on campus.

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 use firearms(s) and victims are selected at random.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. The deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter.
If it is possible to do so safely, exit the building immediately, moving away from the immediate path of danger, and take the following steps:
  • Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.
  • Do not activate the fire alarm.
  • Evacuate to a safe area away from the danger, and take protective cover. Stay there until emergency responders arrive.
  • Leave your personal items behind.
  • Call 911 and the Public Safety Department at 610-527-1038, providing each dispatcher with the following information:
    1. Your name
    2. Location of the incident (be as specific as possible)
    3. Number of shooters (if known)
    4. Identification or description of shooter(s)
    5. Number of persons who may be involved
    6. Your exact location
    7. Injuries to anyone, if known
  • Individuals not immediately impacted by the situation are to take protective cover, staying away from windows and doors until notified otherwise.
If exiting the building is not possible, the following actions are recommended:
  • Go to the nearest room or office. Lock and barricade doors.
  • Turn off the lights.
  • Do not activate the fire alarm
  • Seek protective cover such as thick desks, concrete walls or filing cabinets.
  • Stay away from doors and windows.
  • Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room.
  • Turn off radios and computers
  • Silence cell phones.
  • Do not answer the door.
  • Call 911 and/or Public Safety Department at 610-527-1038 if it is safe to do so, providing each dispatcher with the following information:
    1. Your name
    2. Your location (be as specific as possible)
    3. Number of shooters (if known)
    4. Identification or description of shooter
    5. Number of persons who may be involved
    6. Injuries if known
    7. Wait for police to assist you out of the building.

If an active shooter enters your office or classroom, try to remain calm. There is no set procedure in this situation. Dial 911, if possible, and alert police to the shooter's location; if you can't speak, leave the line open so the dispatcher can listen to what's taking place. Attempting to overcome the suspect with force is a last resort that should only be considered in the most extreme circumstances. Only you can decide if this is something you should do. Remember there may be more than one shooter. If the shooter leaves the area, proceed immediately to a safer place and do not touch anything that was in the vicinity of the shooter. Do not activate the fire alarm.

No matter what the circumstances, if you decide to flee during an active shooter situation, make sure you have a plan and escape route in mind. Do not attempt to carry anything in your hands while fleeing. Do not try to move any injured people; leave them where they are and notify authorities of their location as soon as possible. Do not activate the fire alarm. Do not attempt to drive off campus until told it is safe to do so by police.
What to expect from responding police officers: Lower Merion Police Officers responding to an active shooter are trained in a procedure known as Rapid Deployment and 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 also 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 and empty 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.