An Active Attacker is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active attackers use firearms, knives, or lethal weapons and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.


Orange background with white text providing immediate actions to take during an active attacker incident.

RUN (ESCAPE). If there is an accessible escape path, try to evacuate the area.

HIDE. If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the attacker is less likely to find you.

DEFEND. As a last resort, and only when your life is in danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active attacker.


SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. Let an authority know right away.  Call Campus Safety Services at 613-520-4444 or ext. 4444 from a Carleton landline.

BEFORE YOU RUN (ESCAPE), KNOW YOUR EXITS. Take time to identify the exits. For persons with disabilities, identify multiple routes and exits that are both safe and accessible. Check to see if the building you are in is connected to any other nearby buildings, as these can also provide alternate means to evacuate to the ground level should you be located on a building connection level.

HAVE A SYSTEM. Establish a “buddy system” with colleagues or friends. “Buddies” should be educated on any physical, psychological, and communication assistance that may be needed to increase your safety and theirs during an active attacker incident.

CONSIDER PLACES TO HIDE. In rooms without windows, behind solid doors with locks, under desks, or behind heavy furniture such as large filing cabinets can make good hiding places. Coordinate and plan with others including your “buddy” ahead of time about the type of assistance they can provide that may help you with concealment.

LEARN FIRST AID SKILLS SO YOU CAN HELP OTHERS. Be proactive and take courses to help with first aid skills.


RUN (ESCAPE). Getting away from the attacker(s) is the top priority. Leave your things behind and run away. If safe to do so, warn others nearby. Call Campus Safety Services at 613-520-4444 when you are safe. Describe each attacker, their locations, and weapons.

* If running in the tunnel system DO NOT run in a straight line, instead run diagonally until you are no longer in the line of sight.

HIDE. If you cannot get away safely, find a place to hide. Get out of the attacker’s view and stay very quiet. Silence your electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate. Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off the lights. Do not hide in groups — spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the attacker. Try to communicate with Campus Safety Services silently —  such as through text message or by putting a sign in an exterior window. Stay in place until law enforcement gives you notice that all immediate danger is clear.

DEFEND. Your last resort when you are in immediate danger is to defend yourself. Commit to your actions and act aggressively to stop the attacker. Ambushing the attacker together with makeshift weapons such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, and books can distract and disarm the attacker.


HELP LAW ENFORCEMENT. Keep hands visible and empty once you have determined law enforcement is at the scene. Follow law enforcement’s instructions and evacuate in the direction they tell you to.

SEEK HELP TO COPE WITH TRAUMA. Consider seeking professional help to cope with the long-term effects of trauma.