Skip to content

Resources for Active Shooter Incidents

Sadly, active shooter incidents are becoming part of the daily landscape of our communities. As a result, there has been an increased demand for information regarding preparation for, management of, and recovery from active shooter situations. In response to this demand, APCO has developed this collection of resources for public safety communications professionals.

“We must take advantage of the best practices,
lessons learned and trainings provided…”
From “The Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy,” Maureen A. Will
Communications Director, Newtown, CT
President, APCO Atlantic Chapter

Tennessee Dispatchers Attend Active Shooter Class, Instructor Speaks Out
" I teach this class because I was in Omaha Nebraska when their active shooter incident broke out at the Westroads mall," said [Tracy] Ertl.
WRBC TV, October 4, 2017


Active Shooter Webinar Series. In light of the most recent active shooter tragedies, the APCO Institute has developed a webinar series featuring communications center staff who have experienced active shooter tragedies in their jurisdictions. During the webinars they will share their experiences – what happened in the PSAP during and after the incidents, and what they have learned from these tragedies.

PSC Magazine Articles

Active Shooter

  • Protecting Law Enforcement: Promoting Safety and Sympathy in a Hostile Environment
    (July/August 2016)
    In a climate where we increasingly hear about deaths and injuries to police officers and firefighters, the task of making sure they are safe becomes ever more daunting.
  • Active Shooter, Active Team
    (January/February 2016)
    On July 16, 2015, an armed assailant opened fire on a military recruiting office in Chattanooga, Tenn., setting off a chain of events that would put the training and capabilities of the Hamilton County 9-1-1 Center personnel and their client agency's first responders to the ultimate test.
  • The Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy: Our Experience and What I Learned
    (May 2015)
    Includes CDE opportunity
    We as professional telecommunicators are trained to do our job no matter the call, at times needing to put our emotions aside for the time being. However, there are times that we receive a call for an event so horrific that putting our emotions aside is impossible. We can’t help but worry about our friends, family and community, for we are members of the community as well. This is exactly what happened on Dec. 14, 2012, when my PSAP received multiple 9-1-1 calls reporting a school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
  • Tactical Dispatch
    (January 2015)
    Includes CDE opportunity
    When discussing training and required skillsets, it is often asked just what, exactly, the difference is between a tactical dispatcher and a telecommunicator. The best, though somewhat complicated answer, is that the purpose of the tactical dispatcher is to support specialized teams with accurate, efficient documentation of events during critical incidents. The simpler answer is that the two positions actually do perform many of the same duties and hold the same responsibilities, just on a different level of criticality.
  • What Do I Tell Them? Pre-Arrival Instructions for Active Shooter Events
    (January 2014)
    On Sept. 16, 2013, an armed assailant opened fire in a facility at the Navy Yard Complex in Washington, D.D., killing 12 and injuring three. With the passing of several weeks, the nation progressed from shock and surprise, to grief and anger, and finally to asking how and why.


  • Telecommunicators & Mental Health – Taking Care of the People Who Protect the Public
    (June 2014)
    Includes CDE opportunity
    If you’ve ever worked in a comm center, you know exactly what a frequent flyer is. Urban Dictionary defines the frequent flyer as “an individual who repeatedly calls 9-1-1 for minor issues.” Now that you have a smile on your face thinking about the people who call your agency—some make your day and some make you want to scream — let’s delve a little deeper into the subject of mental health and the telecommunicator.
  • After the Call – Stress Management in the Comm Center
    (January 2014)
    Includes CDE opportunity
    Public safety telecommunicators answer the call 24/7, 365 days a year. Our chosen profession, our calling, is extremely stressful whether we work from a 9-1-1 console, a dispatch console or a supervisor’s console.
  • PTSD & Upsetting Calls
    (July 2013)
    Includes CDE opportunity
    It is almost inevitable that anyone working within the field of 9-1-1 telecommunications will experience at least one call in their career that is emotionally upsetting. Although telecommunicators are trained to gather all relevant information as quickly as possible and remain calm no matter what is happening on the other end of the line, the very nature of these calls can be upsetting to even the most seasoned or stoic of veteran telecommunicators and may be very upsetting to trainees and early career telecommunicators.

PSC Online

Professional Development Session Recordings & Presenations From APCO Events

  • Active Assailant: The Telecommunicator as the First Incident Commander - Video
    (August 2014)
    Active assailant situations can occur anywhere and require rapid law enforcement response in order to minimize casualties. The telecommunications professional serves as the first first responder as well as the first incident commander in these critical situations. Learn how asking the right questions and strategically dispatching responders could save lives, and how preparing your agency for such an event can reduce confusion and increase the efficiency of the staff you have to ensure the incident is handled as quickly and safely as possible. See how some seemingly benign calls may warn of an increased likelihood of such an event.
  • LAX, VA Tech & the Navy Yard Active Shooter Incidents - Video
    (August 2014)
    What do the Navy Yard Shooter, the LAX Active Shooter and the VA Tech Shootings have in common? Answer: They are all non-traditional PSAPs. What non-traditional PSAPs do you have in your jurisdiction? Have you prepared a response plan? Do you train together? Do you know what resources they already have available? This session is an intense, in-depth look at how to prepare for major incidents. It will identify problems associated with communications and explain how calls go to several locations and problems associated with this. Using after action reports we will show how to be proactive and plan ahead.

PSConnect Online Community

APCO Training Courses

  • Active Shooter Incidents for Public Safety Telecommunications
    Offered live and online
    Active shooter incidents and their response pose several unique concerns for all facets of public safety including public safety communications. There are a multitude of issues that make responding to an active shooter incident more difficult than other armed subject calls or violent in-progress incidents.
  • Surviving Stress
    Offered live and online 
    Stress affects people of all ages, professions and life situations. Understanding these causes of stress in the profession will allow the Public Safety Telecommunicator to recognize and mitigate some of the stressful situations that they may encounter. This course addresses how to detect stress within yourself and co-workers and provides measures to reduce the impact. Includes information on Critical Incident Stress. See course schedules, registration and fees.
    For more information on courses, contact