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Penn State Adopts 'Run, Hide, Fight' as Protocol for Active-Attacker Response

by on September 01, 2018 12:05 AM

If an violent attack occurs, Penn State police want members of the university community to remember a simple but effective message: run if you can, hide if you can't, and fight as a last resort.

The university recently adopted "Run, Hide, Fight" as the protocol for active-attacker response and has begun rolling out training for faculty, staff and students.

Keith Morris, chief of police at University Park, said that the program is endorsed on the local, state and federal levels, including by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. It's also been implemented by many of Pen State's Big Ten peers.

"The 'Run, Hide, Fight' program is the national standard when it comes to active-attacker protocols," Morris said. "What it does is provide a very simple yet effective response if you ever find yourself in an active-attacker situation."

It's not the first such response program Penn State has had. In 2010, it started using the "Five OUTS" and in 2014 changed over to "Stay SAFE." Those programs delivered essentially the same concepts as "Run, Hide, Fight," but weren't as widely known and their terminology not as intuitive, Morris said.

"With the implementation of the 'Run, Hide, Fight' program, we are going toward a more consistent, simple and effective message," Morris said.

And because it is the national standard, "Run, Hide, Fight" is being taught as early as the elementary school level, so by the time students get to Penn State, they already will be familiar with the concepts.

It starts with the idea that if it's possible, people should first determine if it's safe to run and get away from the area. They should leave their belongings behind, keep their hands visible and, once in a safe place, call the police.

If they can't run, the second option is to hide out of sight of the attacker and remain quiet, locking and barricading doors and turning off lights. People shouldn't huddle together because that makes for an easier target.

When running or hiding aren't possible, people may need to fight when their lives are in imminent danger. They should find any objects they can to use as weapons to incapacitate the attacker, commit to what they're going to do and work with others.

"Even though it’s 'Run, Hide, Fight,' that doesn’t necessarily mean it takes place in that order," Morris said. "If you find yourself face-to-face with an attacker, you’re not going to have a chance to run. You might not necessarily be able to hide. So the first thing you might have to do is fight. That makes people feel uncomfortable. It’s not an easy decision to make and it’s a decision you have to make individually. However, when you’re faced with that type of situation, the options are being killed or seriously injured, or taking action to stop the threat."

Penn State began offering training in the program with new student orientation in May. This week, the university started promoting the protocol and training offerings. The runhidefight.psu.edu website offers a training video and information, but officers from the Community-Oriented Policing unit also offer in-person trainings for any university group.

Police are able to offer the training using Zoom and Skype as well, and a recent training had 80 people, the majority attending online, Morris said.

He added that the department has been inundated with requests for trainings since promotion of the protocol began.

Some who have already taken the training found it "eye-opening," Morris said.

"Here’s the reality of the situation: these are occurring more and more often and we need to prepare our community members in the instance of one of these," Morris said. "Although it might be a rare occasion and the chance of you finding yourself in one of these situations may be slim-to-none, you still need to be prepared, because you never know when one of these can occur.

"So although it might be difficult information -- nobody’s saying it’s an easy thing to do -- when you educate yourself you’re better prepared in the event that it happens."

Video: WPSU/Penn State



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at geoff.rushton@statecollege.com or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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