Active Assailant Awareness

Click here for immediate response actions if there is an active attack on campus

Weapons are prohibited on UMBC’s campus and at all UMBC facilities and grounds.  Call UMBC Police at (410) 455-5555 if you witness a firearm in a prohibited location.  Use the following information to increase your awareness of potential attacks and improve your readiness.  The threat of an attack on college campuses continues to be a serious concern.  UMBC provides training on active assailant awareness focusing on actions you can take to help escape and survive an attack on or off campus.  The objective of our awareness training is to help you condition yourself to be a SURVIVOR instead of a victim.

Know Your Survival Strategy

You must have a strategy to survive the first 3 to 5 critical minutes of an attack before police arrive.  If you think you hear gun shots do not ignore what is happening.  In attack, gun shots will sound RAPID, SUCCESSIVE, REPEATING, and LOUD.  Call UMBC Police at (410) 455-5555 after you have taken action to stay safe.

  • Alerts are essential for survivors to take action.
  • Register for UMBC alerts at:  Ensure you have at least one current text-enabled mobile phone number registered.
  • If UMBC Police receive reports of an attack on or near campus, expect to see this alert:  “Active assailant attack reported on campus. Lockdown your area. Run-Hide-Fight if you are in danger.
  • This means there is a confirmed threat…take it seriously.
  • Do not expect to be told the location of the attack.  We will send a follow-up alert as soon as possible, but this may take time.
  • Lockdown” means deny access to your building, classrooms, work spaces, and living spaces if there are no signs of obvious danger in your immediate area.
  • Run-Hide-Fight” means take action to escape and survive if there is an obvious threat in your immediate area.
  • If you have received training, remember “Avoid – Deny – Defend” to improve your ability to escape and survive.
  • Know the difference between SHELTER-IN-PLACE and LOCKDOWN.
    • SHELTER-IN-PLACE:  An order issued for environmental hazards outside your building such as severe weather or hazardous materials accident.  Go to interior shelter areas:  interior corridors, interior stairwells, and internal spaces on the ground level and first level.  These shelter areas do not provide protection from an active assailant.
    • LOCKDOWN:  An order issued for a security threat, like an active assailant.  This action is meant to prevent an armed intruder from entering your building, your classroom, workplace, or living space.  When police order a lockdown, go to the closest safe haven:  an interior room that provides protection and concealment.
  • Characteristics of an ideal safe haven:
    • Prevents an intruder from gaining access through physical barriers.
    • Can be locked from inside without the need of a key.
    • Does not have any interior windows or small windows set in entry doors.
    • Suppresses lights and sounds to conceal occupants.
    • Provides some degree of protection from gunfire.
  • Lockdown actions:
    • Go to the closest safe haven.  Secure the space to prevent an intruder from gaining access.
    • Compartmentalize if possible.  Secure corridors or interior access points to lockdown multiple adjoining rooms or suites.
    • Lead occupants in your area to safety. If the threat is not imminent, give people the time needed to reach a safe haven before closing and locking the doors.
    • If you cannot reach a safe haven before the doors are locked, you must find other protection.
    • Secure all safe haven entries once occupants are inside.
    • DO NOT open up for anyone or any reason, even for someone identifying themselves as “police,” until after you receive the all-clear alert.
    • If UMBC Police need to access your safe haven before the all-clear, they will be able to gain entry using their issued keys.
    • You can contact UMBC Police at (410) 455-5555 to verify the identity of officers and their location.
    • For more information, review our Lock Down and Safe Haven Guidelines – September 2023
  • An active assailant attack is a complex, chaotic, panic-driven situation.
  • Expect teams of armed officers and individual armed officers from multiple departments.
  • Police priorities are: 1) stop the attacker; 2) rescue survivors; and 3) clear the area of threat.  They may not stop to help injured while there is an active threat.
  • OBEY all orders from police officers and be compliant.
  • Officers may shout commands and push you to the ground.
  • Put down any items in your hands, even your phone, and always keep hands visible.
  • Remain in areas of safety as instructed by police.  Expect to be held there until the scene is cleared.  Do not leave a safe area until directed.

What you do matters – Condition yourself to be a survivor

RUN-HIDE-FIGHT and AVOID-DENY-DEFEND…What’s the difference?  These survival concepts seem similar…the difference depends on you.

If you have not received training and are unfamiliar with your environment, these actions can save your life.  You must understand understand the risks.

  • RUN – HIDE – FIGHT takes less effort, but is more reactive and fear-based.  These actions may be necessary in the moment to save your life, but they can also be potentially dangerous.
  • You may have to RUN.  This is a reflex and instinctive.  Know that running may expose you to the attacker.
  • You may have to HIDE.  Find protection, not just concealment.  Know that hiding does not prevent the attacker from accessing you.
  • You have the right to FIGHT back.  Don’t rely on strength or luck.  Know that fighting guarantees life-threatening danger.

If you have attended training, you know your environment, and have taken the time to develop a plan, these actions can improve your ability to survive.

  • AVOID – DENY – DEFEND takes time, effort, and preparedness.  These actions require you to be proactive and to make knowledge-driven decisions.  Improve your knowledge and situational awareness to reduce potential danger.
  • Know how to AVOID an attacker.  Develop situational awareness. Have a plan to stay away from danger.
  • Know how to DENY access.  Find a room you can lock.  Do not let the attacker in.  Put distance and obstacles between you and the attacker.
  • Know how to DEFEND yourself.  Shift your fear to anger.  Counterattack as a team.  Be unexpected and violent.

Resources and Training

Learn to make decisions quickly and take action.  You can escape and survive an attack.

These guides are UMBC Police Department products and can assist in improving your readiness for an active assailant attack.

  • Click here for the training video:  “Surviving an Active Shooter.
  • This video was produced by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University and is presented during UMBC’s Active Assailant Awareness training.
  • The video illustrates how to apply AVOID – DENY – DEFEND during an attack.
  • This is a DRAMATIZED video of a simulated attack.  There is NO graphic imagery.  It does show images of a gunman and the sound of gunshots.