The survival concept, when dealing with an active shooter or a violent situation most generally accepted is referred to are Run Hide Fight.

Let’s look at the following scenario to better understand Run, Hide, Fight.

You are working at your desk, and you think you hear a freighting noise. Maybe, it’s just a passing car.

But then you realize something is going terribly wrong: some of your coworkers are running out of the building and screaming; others are crouching in corners or under desks. The noise – a gunshot – tells you it’s time to move fast and evacuate the premises.

Fortunately, you remember your survival training: Run Hide Fight.

Here is the essence of Run Hide Fight:

  • Run and alert others in the office to run as well.
  • Hide somewhere safe waiting for police to arrive.
  • If things escalate, fight back with anything you can get your hands on.

These three steps—Run, Hide, Fight (RHF)—are based on ways to survive a violent situation provided by the FBI and other law enforcement experts over 20 years ago and they continue to be relevant in an active assailant situation.

But unfortunately, using Run Hide Fight means an attack is underway. As a result, this survival technique may not help you survive.

Further, there’s another significant flaw in this advice: when we face an unexpected life-threatening situation, most of us don’t act logically or follow what we have been taught. Instead, we freeze. We do nothing.

According to an article published in the New York Times:

Underlying the idea of “run, hide, fight” is the presumption that choices are readily available in situations of danger. But the fact is, when you are in danger, whether it is a bicyclist speeding at you or a shooter locked and loaded, you may find yourself frozen, unable to act and think clearly.

The article goes on to say that freezing is also not a choice. Instead, “it is a built-in impulse controlled by ancient circuits in the human brain.”

And don’t think humans are the only ones that freeze when they encounter danger.

In a test situation, Joseph Ledoux, and his associates at New York University, trained rats on how to escape certain dangerous situations. When they believed the rats were sufficiently trained, they put them in threatening situations. In virtually every case, the rats froze. They had forgotten everything they had been trained to do!

Can we Unfreeze using Run Hide Fight?

Because the concept of Run, Hide, Fight is so well established, some psychologists like James Gross at Stanford, Kevin Ochsner at Columbia, and Elizabeth Phelps at Harvard University believe it just needs some refinement. They suggest training on a national level, so we can all learn to unfreeze in dangerous situations.

They suggest “harnessing the power of social media to conduct a kind of collective, cultural training in which we reappraise [a dangerous situation] and act differently.” However, we may need to reimagine RHF.

At least one company in the security industry, TAL Global, proposes a different approach to protect organizations and their employees in dangerous situations.

TAL Global calls it: Prepare-React-Recover or PRR.

Prepare-React-Recover in Action

Let’s return to our earlier scenario to better understand the Prepare component of PRR.

Why was it so easy for that active assailant to enter the building? In many cases lax security is the reason.

If sound security practices were in place, the facility would be properly protected, and an early warning methodology would be in place to prevent an active assailant from entering the building so easily.

Some other ways to ensure proper physical security is in place involves the following:

  • Conducting security and risk assessments to identify potential hazards and gaps in security.
  • Training staff on evacuation and lockdown procedures.
  • Creating an in-house Threat Management Team, taught how to evaluate people in a dangerous situation and a strategy to ensure the security and safety of everyone in the facility.
  • Ensuring security policies and procedures are established. They are essential in creating and maintaining a safe and secure workplace in our open and free society.


The React component involves several steps, including some of those found in RHF to help survive a violent situation. These include:

  • Identify the hazard and/or threats (where they are coming from, what direction, who is involved).
  • Implement evacuation and/or lockdown procedures, as appropriate.
  • Notify all employees promptly.
  • Activate threat management team(s).
  • Execute your plan.
  • Maintain and monitor conditions until the threat is over.


Recovery, the final component, touches on something not even considered with RHF.

It ensures these steps are taken by:

  • Providing prompt physical and behavioral health support to all affected.
  • Document the incident and gather facts. Consider conducting a pre-litigation investigation.
  • Effectively managing communications, internally and externally.
  • Providing security onsite post-incident.
  • Debriefing and conducting a self-assessment of how the organization handle the emergency, looking for improvements.
  • Bringing in professional resources.
  • Sharing experiences and lessons learned to help overcome a comparable situation in the future.
  • Create a thorough, after-action report (AAR).

As we can see, the gist of PRR is to survive by taking steps to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place, knowing how to react appropriately, and how to recover from such incidents as quickly as possible. This is what saves lives.

TAL Global is an elite security, consulting, and risk management firm that protects human and physical assets around the globe. For more information email:

© TAL Global, 2019