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What is an Active Shooter?

An active shooter situation occurs when an intruder enters a building or campus grounds and threatens the personal safety and welfare of our students, faculty, staff and guests.

These are the characteristics of such a situation:

  • Involves one or more suspect(s) who, as police respond to the scene, are actively killing or causing serious, life-threatening bodily injury to multiple victims.
  • The overriding objective of the suspect(s) is not some other criminal conduct such as robbery or hostage-taking.
  • There is immediate risk of death and injury.
  • Requires law enforcement to take immediate action
  • Active shooter situations can develop into hostage situations upon the arrival of law enforcement.

On a national level, active shooter situations have increased and are becoming ever more serious threats to any facility that is open to the public, including colleges and universities. Events such as these are usually unpredictable and evolve rapidly, demanding response decisions that can be influenced by a number of different variables. Therefore, it is very important that faculty, staff and students immediately report any potentially threatening persons that they see anywhere on campus that appear to be armed. This is true even if the person is not currently engaged in an act of violence and would include anyone armed with a bladed instrument such as a large knife, sword, machete or firearm of any kind. Call 515.271.2222 for Public Safety or 911 for the Des Moines Police Department.

How to react to an active shooter situation on campus

Make a decision, trust your instincts, take action to protect yourself to survive the situation. 

Run: Can you safely escape? If this option is available it is always the best one.
Hide: Is there a good place to hide?
Fight: Only if you have no other options and your life is at risk?

Run for safety

  • If you can and you deem it safe, get out and get to a safe place.
  • Leave belongings behind, but take your cell phone if it is handy.

 Hide in a safe place

  • Find a hidden location.
  • Find protection behind furniture if possible.
  • Find a room that locks if you can.
  • If possible, close and lock the outside door to the room. Blockade the door with furniture or other heavy objects.
  • Close the blinds, turn off the lights, remain quiet, silence cell phones, spread out away from other individuals, and move behind available cover.
  • Stay on the floor, away from doors or windows, and do not peek out to see what may be happening.
  • If possible and safe to do so report the location of the suspect(s).


  • Do whatever is necessary to survive the situation.
  • Make a commitment to take action, if others are present use a team approach.

If outside when a shooting occurs:

  • Drop to the ground immediately, face down as flat as possible. If within 15-20 feet of a safe place or cover, duck and run to it.
  • Move or crawl away from gunfire, trying to utilize any obstructions between you and the gunfire. Remember that many objects of cover may conceal you from sight, but may not be bulletproof.
  • When you reach a place of relative safety, stay down and do not move. Do not peek or raise your head in an effort to see what may be happening.
  • Wait and listen for directions from Public Safety and/law enforcement personnel.

Help out

  • Warn others.
  • Help others escape, but don't let them stop you from escaping.
  • Keep others away from the danger area.
  • Help the injured if you can do so safely.
  • Help others stay calm.

Calling for help

  • Call 911 to report the appropriate authorities. Do not assume that someone else has reported the incident. Be persistent; phones may be jammed.
  • Calmly identify yourself and your exact location. Remain calm and answer the dispatcher's questions. The dispatcher is trained to obtain the necessary and required information for an appropriate emergency response.
  • If safe to do so, stop and take time to get a good description of the criminal. Note height, weight, sex, race, approximate age, clothing, method and direction of travel, and his/her name, if known.
  • If the suspect is entering a vehicle, note the license plate number, make and model, color, and outstanding characteristics. All of this takes only a few seconds and is of the utmost help to the responding officers.


  • When law enforcement reaches you, do not run at them or make sudden movements.
  • The priority of the first responders will be to identify the shooter. Law enforcement will need to ensure that you are not the shooter.
  • Do not scream, yell, point, or wave your arms.
  • Do not hold anything in your hands that could be mistaken for a weapon (including cell phones).
  • Be quiet and compliant.
  • Show the officers your empty hands and follow their instructions.
  • Give the number of shooters.
  • Give the location and physical description of the shooter.
  • Give the number and types of weapons.
  • When it is safe to do so, you will be given instructions as to how to safely exit your location. 

Policy Statement


Drake Public Safety,
    non-emergency - 515-271-2222

- Des Moines police, fire, ambulance,
     emergency - 911

-  Des Moines police,
     non-emergency 515-283-4811

- Student Health Center  

- Employee Assistance Program

Title IX