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 Active Shooter Guidelines for Places of Mass Gathering

Firearm attack – initial action advice for individuals

Attacks involving firearms do occur, so it is important to be prepared to react when an incident does occur.  Having thought about your potential options and actions in advance will help you to make better informed decisions in a stressful and chaotic environment. The advice below may help with pre-planning your response options.

If you are in a building

Your priority action should be to remove yourself and any others in your area from close proximity to the offender, or areas that they have or may be able to access. Your ability to safely do this and your available options may be determined by the following considerations:

Under immediate gunfire

  • Take cover initially, but attempt to leave the area as soon as possible if safe to do so.
  • Try to first confirm that your escape route is safe.
  • Leave most of your belongings behind (except for mobile phone).
  • Do not congregate in open areas or wait at evacuation points.
  • Provide guidance to people that might be unfamiliar with the area

Nearby gunfire

  • Leave the area immediately and move quickly away from the area that the gunfire is coming from, if it is safe to do so.
  • In both situations you should try to maintain cover and concealment (see below).

Cover from gunfire

  • Brickwork or concrete walls
  • Vehicles (engine block area)
  • Large trees & fixed objects
  • Earth banks/hills/mounds

Concealment from view (in addition to above options)

  • Building walls and partitions (internal and external)
  • Vehicles
  • Fences and other large structures
  • Blinds/curtains


If you don't believe you can safely evacuate, or this may not be the best option, then you may need to consider sheltering in place (providing there is a suitable option available).

  • Avoid congregating in open areas, such as corridors and foyers.
  • Consider locking/barricading yourself and others in a room or secure area.
  • Secure your immediate environment and other vulnerable areas.
  • 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.
  • Try to contact police (000) or others to advise of your location/situation.
  • Choose a location which may enable access to a more secure area.


  • Constantly re-assess the situation and your options based on the best available information.
  • These situations are very dynamic and often involve a moving threat.
  • Consider whether a safe escape route might now be possible if the circumstances have changed.
  • Assess better options for sheltering in place either within your current location or at an alternative location.
  • Consider (only as a last resort) options for arming yourself with improvised weapons to defend yourself in the event that you are located by the offender.


  • The more information you can pass on to the police or venue management the better, but NEVER risk your own safety or the safety of others to gain it.

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

  • Exact location of the incident
  • description of the offender and whether moving in any particular direction
  • details of any firearm/s being used
  • number of people in the area and any that have been injured
  • the motive or intent of the offender (if known or apparent)

Provide this information immediately to the police via 000 if this can be achieved safely.

You may be asked to remain on the line and provide any other information or updates that the operator requests or if the situation changes.

Consider providing information and advice to others that may be in your area that may be unsure of the current location of the threat and what they should do.  Whether you are able to safely do this, and the communication methods available to you, will be determined by the circumstances and your own assessment of the situation.

Police response

In an attack involving firearms a police officer's priority is to protect lives.  One of their priority actions to achieve this will be to locate the offender and effectively manage that threat as quickly as possible, which could mean initially moving past people who need help.

As more police resources become involved they will attempt to quickly provide support and guidance to persons affected by the incident.

At some stage they will generally conduct a 'clearance' search of the location to ensure that all persons involved or impacted by the incident are located, and to make the scene safe.

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.
  • Avoid quick movements or shouting and keep your hands in view.
  • They may initially move past you in search of the gunman.
  • Be aware that police may enter your location at some stage to secure the building and locate people that have hidden from the threat.
  • Promptly follow any instructions given by emergency responders.

Information and advice

In the case of an emergency, dial 000 for reporting an incident or immediate advice.
For all other inquiries, contact your police Counter Terrorism contacts in your jurisdiction:

ACT Policing

Emergency Management and Planning (02) 6256 7777

New South Wales Police

Counter Terrorist Business Contact Unit (02) 9919 9278

Northern Territory Police

131 444 (in NT)

Queensland Police

Intelligence, CT & Major Events Command (07) 3406 3670

South Australia Police

Critical Infrastructure Support Group (08) 7322 3622

Tasmania Police

Special Response and Counter-Terrorism Unit (03) 61732500

Victoria Police

Counter Terrorism Coordination Unit (03) 9247 6666

Western Australia Police

Security Operations Division (08) 9370 7284