Active shooter / violent intruder response is different.  For a severe weather incident, a leader can order everyone to a shelter area.
For a fire, everyone evacuates.  Active shooter and violent intruder incidents require options (Run-Hide-Fight) and people to apply those options based on their circumstances.

In their book “The Starfish and the Spider” Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom discuss how decentralized control and leaderless organizations allow many businesses and organizations to succeed.  This type of approach has a strong application in active shooter events.   If you cut off a spider’s head, it dies; if you cut off a starfish’s leg it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish.

Traditional top-down active shooter response is like a spider, totally dependent upon an incident commander to provide information and instructions.   A starfish-type approach empowers individuals with the ability to make decisions to save lives.

While it may be easier to plan and train, the concept of top-down organizational control during the attack phase of an active shooter is dangerous fallacy.  Active shooter plans and training must address the need for individual, option-based plans as part of a comprehensive all-hazards emergency plan.

“The Starfish and the Spider” on

Stay safe,



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