PREPARE-REACT-RECOVER: An Innovative Active Assailant Action Plan for Individuals and Organizations

Prepare-React-Recover is a new approach to deal with active assailant situations. They are no longer rare or isolated, and increasingly result in significant workplace disruption and anxiety.

Past efforts to prepare organizations and people to address this phenomenon have centered around the Run Hide Fight (RHF) guidelines developed over 20 years ago.

While RHF continues to be good advice when confronted with an imminent active assailant situation, activating this response comes at a critical moment in the attack cycle, resulting in an often-delayed reaction in a chaotic situation, thereby reducing the probability of survival.

An innovative approach is needed to deal with the new reality of more frequent active shooter events.  This is why we created Prepare-React-Reover.

This approach recognizes how circumstances have changed when it comes to active assailant attacks and other violent situations. This novel approach evolves beyond RHF and emphasizes the ongoing need for personal and organizational preparedness and resilience.

Preparedness for active assailant attacks should not be incident driven, but rather it should be thought of as a cycle that incorporates vital actions to help improve the odds of avoiding injury or death. This cycle incorporates a proactive approach that does not wait for an incident to occur, but rather begins with preparedness, followed by reacting, leading to, and concluding with recovery and continued preparation, following the graphic below:

Preparedness includes appropriate assessments, security policies and procedures, along with security, workplace violence and situational awareness training.

This is followed by understanding how to react to a situation.

The survival concept concludes with recovery, which involves getting back to normal through behavioral health support and appropriate employer-led or self-administered solutions.

Based on our experience in this area, we are offering Prepare-React-Recover as a proposed set of guidelines and tasks to augment the Run Hide Fight philosophy. This will help increase chances of survival and mitigate the potential harm of incidents.

Prepare-React-Recover for Individuals


  • Understand the risk and what to expect.
  • Know your limitations when reacting.
  • Visualize your plan of action ahead of time and consider the specific actions you will take.
  • Have a personal plan: what will you do if an active assailant attack occurs in your  immediate area?
  • Discuss with those around you before an incident occurs.
  • Practice your plan.
  • Make it instinctual – build muscle memory.
  • Learn and practice situational awareness.
  • Process lessons learned from past incidents.
  • Know what needs to be reported and to whom it should be reported.


  • Be alert.
  • Identify the hazard (attack – where/direction/who is involved?).
  • Prioritize the threats if there are more than one and deal with the most serious threat first.
  • Execute your plan, including RHF.
  • Monitor the situation until conditions are safe.
  • Communicate with authorities (police and other first responders) and to organizational leadership as needed and appropriate.
  • Document – keep track of what happened and what you did. It may be necessary to be a witness.


  • Obtain professional medical help if you have sustained any type of physical injury.
  • Do a post-incident mental health self-assessment of your feelings and emotions.
  • Always take advantage of professional mental health counseling. If not provided by your employer, seek out your own. This is critical in your personal mental health recovery from an incident.
  • Share your experience and consider how to help yourself and others to overcome an analogous situation in the future.

Prepare-React-Recover for Organizations

Organizations bear the responsibility of protecting their people and assets. In addition to considering the individual preparation guidance provided above, organizations need to prepare as an entity.


  • Understand the risk and what to expect.
  • Assess the preparedness of your organization, and work to improve preparedness if gaps are identified.
  • Conduct security assessments in all facilities to identify physical security deficiencies and opportunities to correct them, e.g., access control, escape routes, lock up and hide areas, etc.
  • Understand the precursors to workplace violence and active assailant situations.
  • Create and implement a workplace violence program to help prevent, mitigate, and manage incidents.
  • Include policies and procedures in the workplace violence program, assign responsibility for action items and outline how an incident will be handled and by whom.
  • Create and implement threat management teams at the local and corporate level, depending on the size of the organization.
  • Provide workplace violence, security and situational awareness training to all employees, and a separate, more comprehensive training for managers, supervisors, and other leaders.
  • Practice your procedures at least once per year thorough practical exercises, drills, and tabletop exercises to develop muscle memory and be at a high state of readiness.
  • Review the program annually and revise as necessary to incorporate organizational changes and new thought leadership and best practices.
  • Resolve issues at the lowest possible level.
  • Have a notification system appropriate for your work environment (office environment, manufacturing, transportation, etc.).
  • Plan terminations and disciplinary actions securely.
  • Liaison with first responders. Include them in your preparedness plan.


  • Identify the hazard and/or threats (attack – where/direction/who is involved?).
  • Implement evacuation and/or lockdown procedures, if appropriate.
  • Notify all employees promptly.
  • Activate threat management team(s).
  • Execute your plan.
  • Maintain and monitor until conditions are safe.


  • Provide prompt behavioral health support to all affected to assist in recovery.
  • Document the incident and investigate to gather facts. Consider conducting a pre-litigation investigation.
  • Effectively manage communications, internally and externally.
  • Provide security onsite as needed post-incident.
  • Debrief and do a self-assessment of organizational handling of the incident looking for opportunities for improvement.
  • Bring in professional resources, if needed.
  • Share your experience and consider how to help yourself and others to overcome a comparable situation
  • Create, edit, and maintain an articulate, thorough after-action report (AAR). Use the AAR for training purposes and for lessons learned. Compare with other AARs (if any).

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