Penn State Active Attacker Response Program

How to Respond in an Active Attacker Situation poster

Penn State has adopted an Active Attacker Response Program as part of the University’s ongoing commitment to the safety of those who are on our campuses to learn, live, work and visit.

Based upon the Run, Hide, FightTM model developed by the City of Houston, Penn State’s Active Attacker Response offers the same three action steps if confronted with an active assailant, making it easy to remember and act upon in an emergency: run if you can, hide if you can’t, and fight as a last resort.

The University’s Active Attacker Response is based upon three action steps: run, hide and fight. The move to the run, hide, fight concept is intended to bring Penn State’s active-attacker response protocol in line with the national standard for active-attacker training.

  • Run, Hide, Fight™ is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FBI, and it has been adopted by the majority of Big Ten schools (including Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers and Wisconsin, among others). It is also routinely implemented at the high school level. 

Please note that the run, hide, and fight action steps may not always occur in this order, so memorizing them all as possible options regardless of order is a key to quick response.

Beyond the program’s namesake actions, University Police is providing the following additional guidance to community members on what to do during each step in the process.


  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Make sure it is safe to leave the area you are in. Use your eyes and ears to determine if it is safe to run.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Keep your hands visible.
  • Once in a safe place, call police and give detailed information about what is happening. Don’t assume someone else has already called the police.


  • If unable to run from the danger, your second option should be to hide.
  • Find a place that’s out of the attacker’s sight and remain quiet.
  • Do not huddle together, because it makes an easier target.
  • Lock and barricade doors with whatever is available, such as desks, chairs, or door wedges. Shut off lights.


  • Fighting is a last resort to be used only when your life is in imminent danger. (However, sometimes fighting may be the first and only option.)
  • Find an object to use as a weapon, such as a fire extinguisher, backpack, book or chair.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the attacker; commit to your actions; work with others to disable the assailant.

As a warning, the video contains intense depictions of violence. It is designed in a realistic manner to educate the Penn State community on best practices for responding to a violent attack. However, it does not provide comprehensive guidelines for all scenarios and does not guarantee safety. Viewer discretion is advised.    

Run, Hide, Fight Surviving an Active Attacker Training Video