ATTACKS in public places

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Publishing Organisation:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • English
  • Mass attacks
  • Terror
Disaster Management Phase

After, Before, During

Take steps to prepare and protect yourself and help others in the event of a mass attack.

Types of Mass Attacks

  • Individuals using firearms to cause mass casualties (active shooter)
  • Individuals using a vehicle to cause mass casualties
  • Individuals using homemade bombs to cause mass casualties
  • Other methods used in mass attacks may include knives, fires, drones or other weapons.


  • Stay alert. Always be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.
  • If you see something, say something to local authorities.
    • That includes suspicious packages, people behaving strangely or someone using strange communications.
  • Observe warning signs.
    • Signs might include unusual or violent communications, substance abuse, expressed anger or intent to cause harm.
      • These warning signs may increase over time.
  • Have an exit plan.
    • Identify exits and areas to hide wherever you go, including work, school and special events.
  • Learn lifesaving skills.
    • Take trainings on first aid to assist the wounded before help arrives.


  • Run to Safety
    • Seek safety. Getting away from the attacker is the top priority.
    • Leave your belongings behind and get away.
    • Call emergency call number (112) when you are safe and describe the attacker, location and weapons.
  • Cover and Hide
    • Cover and hide if you can’t evacuate.
    • Find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and put a solid barrier between yourself and the threat if possible.
    • Lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights.
    • Keep silent.
  • Defend, Disrupt, Fight
    • Fight only as a last resort.
    • When you can’t run or cover, attempt to disrupt the attack or disable the attacker.
    • Be aggressive and commit to your actions.
    • Recruit others to ambush the attacker with makeshift weapons such as chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc.
    • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the attacker.
  • Help the Wounded
    • Take care of yourself first and then, if you are able, help the wounded get to safety and provide immediate care.
    • Call emergency call number (112) when it is safe for you to do so.


  • When Law Enforcement Arrives
    • Remain calm and follow instructions.
    • Keep hands visible and empty.
    • Report to designated areas to provide information and get help.
    • Follow law enforcement’s instructions and evacuate in the direction they tell you to go. Listen to law enforcement for information about the situation.
    • Share updates as you can with family and friends.

Consider Seeking Professional Help

  • Be mindful of your mental health.
    • If needed, seek help for you and your family to cope with the trauma.


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