Weapon/Hostage Situation

Code Silver


Upon witnessing, observing or being notified of a person with a weapon or a hostage or barricade situation on Hospital property:

  1. Call 1111
  2. Provide Dispatcher the following information: identify yourself and describe the situation. Give as much detail as possible, and in particular, describe the appearance of the perpetrator(s), whether any weapons were evident, the location of the situation, and in which direction the perpetrator(s) was last seen headed.

Staff located near active shooter:

1. RUN
  • If it is safe to do so, run away from area of active violence
  • Leave personal belongings behind
  • Visualize possible escape routes, including physically accessible routes for patients, visitors, or staff with disabilities and others with functional needs
  • Avoid escalators and elevators, use stairwells away from event for vertical movement
  • Take others with you but do not stay if others choose not to leave
  • Call 1111 if safe to do so from desktop or ASCOM
  • Call 911 if unable to use internal phones

West Chester Communications DOES NOT have 911 texting capability.

  • If running is not a safe option or for patients with mobility issues unable to “run”, seek areas of safety, preferable with thicker walls, few windows, placing barriers between you and the shooter
  • Mentally note location and room number
  • Lock door, if possible and barricade door with room furniture
  • Close and lock windows and close blinds or cover windows
  • Turn off lights
  • Silence all electronic devices
  • Remain silent
  • Seek alternate avenues of escape
  • Identify ad-hoc weapons-i.e. fire extinguisher, lamp, etc.
  • When safe to do so, use strategies to silently communicate with first responders-i.e. in room with exterior window, make gestures to signal Law Enforcement
  • Hide along the wall closest to the exit but out of view from hallway, this allows the best options for ambushing the shooter and for possible escape if shooter enters or passes the room.
  • Remain in place until given ALL CLEAR by identifiable Law Enforcement
  • When neither running or hiding is a safe option, as a last resort, when confronted by shooter, you should make personal choice to attempt to negotiate or overpower and fight shooter.
  • If choice is to FIGHT
    • Try to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force, ad-hoc weapons, throw items, yell and scream
    • It is crucial to commit to your actions when attempting to disrupt and/or incapacitate shooter – you are fighting for your life!
Staff not located near active shooter:
  1. Immediately begin to secure and inspect area with priority to protect all patients, staff and visitors.
  2. Close all fire doors and implement measures to prevent entry to unit-i.e. barricade unit entrances by any means necessary.
  3. Ask visitors, patients and other staff members to be quiet, turn off all radios, TVs, pagers, and lights.
  4. Advise patients to remain or return to their rooms with door shut and barricaded and seek protection.
  5. Individuals not in the defined area of concern should stay out of the area and keep all employees and visitors away from area.
Guidelines if taken hostage:
  1. Remain calm and avoid display of emotion
  2. Do what you are told
  3. Initially, do not speak unless spoken to
  4. Never:
    1. Lie
    2. Argue
    3. Confront
    4. Provoke
    5. Attempt to negotiate
  5. Get rid of or hide
    1. Symbols of authority
    2. Personnel Effects-i.e. pictures of spouse & children, keys, etc
  6. Sit down if possible and relax
  7. Remain alert
  8. Anticipate tremendous light and noise if rescue attempt is made by Law Enforcement
  9. Get on floor and stay down until told different by Law Enforcement


  1. Law Enforcement’s primary goal upon arrival is to engage and stop the threat; all other actions are secondary
  3. WCH personnel will cooperate fully with the UC Health Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies to see the situation through to its quickest resolution
  4. How to react when Law Enforcement arrives:
    • Remain Calm, follow Officers’ commands
    • Law Enforcement will likely instruct persons to get on the ground, place hands on head and persons may be searched. This includes Physicians, Nurses, Staff, Contractors, Patients, and Visitors alike
    • Put down any items in your hands
    • Raise hands and spread fingers
    • Keep hands visible at all times
    • Avoid quick movements towards Officers
    • Do not grab or hold on to Officers
  5. Provide Law Enforcement or Dispatch with following information:
    1. Location of Shooter
    2. Number of Shooters, if more than one
    3. Physical description of shooter/s
    4. Number and type of weapons
    5. Number of potential victims


  1. Ensure that patient’s care, safety and well-being have been attended to.
  2. Debrief within your department or unit.
  3. Report any deficiencies found that would jeopardize safe operation of your department and report to your department or house manager immediately.
  4. For the well-being of staff, visitors, patients, and residents, Employee Assistance/Chaplain on call will be available for anyone needing counseling assistance.
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