Active shooter

active shooter icon

Initial action advice for individuals

Attacks involving firearms may be infrequent but, it is important to be prepared to respond to such an incident. The advice below will help with planning a response.


Under immediate gunfire – take cover initially, but attempt to leave the area as soon as possible if safe to do so. Try to confirm that your escape route is safe.

Nearby gunfire

  • Leave the area immediately, moving away from the gunfire if this can be achieved safely.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Do not congregate at evacuation points.
  • Try to maintain cover (see below).

Cover from gunfire

  • Substantial brickwork or concrete walls
  • Engine blocks of motor vehicles
  • Base of large live trees
  • Earth banks/hills/mounds

Cover from view

  • Internal partition
  • Car doors
  • Wooden fences
  • Curtains


The more information you can pass on to police the better, but never risk your own safety or that of others to gain it.

If it is safe to do so, think about obtaining the following information:

  • Details of any firearms being used or possessed
  • Exact location of the incident
  • Whether the perpetrator is stationary or moving in any particular direction
  • Number of casualties
  • Number of other people in the area
  • Number and description of offenders
  • Their motives or intent (if known or apparent)
  • What else they are carrying.

Notify police

  • Ring police immediately on 000 and give them the information shown under ‘See’
  • Stay on the line and provide any other information or updates the operator requests (if safe to do so)
  • Use all the channels of communication available to you to inform staff, visitors, neighbouring premises, etc of the danger

If you can't escape:


  • Secure your immediate environment and other vulnerable areas
  • Keep people out of public areas, such as corridors and foyers
  • Consider locking/barricading yourself and others in a room or secure area
  • Try to choose a room where escape to a more secure area may be possible
  • Move away from the door, remain quiet and stay there until told otherwise by appropriate authorities, or you need to move for safety reasons
  • Silence mobile phones and other devices that may identify your presence
  • Consider (only as a last resort) options for arming yourself with improvised weapons to defend yourself if you are located.

Police response

In an attack involving firearms a police officer’s priority is to protect lives.

In an active shooter scenario, this usually means locating the offender as quickly as possible, even if it means initially moving past people who need help.

Please remember:

  • At first police officers may not be able to distinguish you from the gunman.
  • Police officers may be armed and could point guns in your direction.
  • They may initially move past you in search of the gunman.
  • Avoid quick movements or shouting and keep your hands in view.
  • Promptly follow any instructions given.
  • Be aware that police may enter your location at some stage to secure the building and locate people that have hidden from the threat.

Source: Australia/New Zealand Counter Terrorism Committee

Further information

Australia/New Zealand Counter Terrorism Committee - Active Armed Offender in Crowded Places (PDF 489KB)