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What UHPD says to do in an active shooter situation

In the event of an active shooter, the University will send alerts to students as soon as the situation begins and ends. | Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

In the event of an active shooter, the University will send alerts to students as soon as the situation begins and ends. | Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

UHPD offers monthly, and by request, Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events training focused on the “easy to remember” method called Avoid, Deny, Defend.

“What we tell people is that this is not just something that we’re training for you here,” said UHPD Sgt. Dina Padovan about the campus CRASE training. “This is something that we’re talking to you about for life.”

The training helps people understand what to prioritize in the event of an active shooter on campus, and how to help others remain calm.


“Avoid” focuses on how to escape your attacker. The method says that you must know your exits immediately, including alternative exits like windows. If possible, try to be in a place where you have distance or obstacles between yourself and the attacker, such as locked doors and walls.

“That’s what is most important is knowing your exits, reporting suspicious behaviors, and if you see something, say something,” Padovan said. 

If there is someone is your group feeling overwhelmed with panic, Padovan said that giving them some direction or a job to do can help them to focus. 

“You’re always going to have someone that says ‘I can’t do it. I can’t do it’,” Padovan said. “Give them something to do. Turn around and tell them ‘I need you to text 9-1-1.’ or ‘I need you to silence everyone’s phone’.”

In Harris County you can text 9-1-1, and Padovan said that it can be a valuable service in this situation.

“You want to script in your head ‘Here’s my name. Here’s my location. Here’s what’s going on’,” Padovan said. “Especially at the University of Houston campus — what building you’re in, what classroom number you’re in.” 


“Deny” focuses on denying the attacker access to your area. Once you’ve gotten to a room you’re able to lock yourself in, push anything you can against the door such as desks, shelves, etc.

The program said that straps, belts and lanyards can be used to shut the arms of a door and slow down the attacker.

“It may not stop them, but it will slow them down,” Padovan said. 


“Defend” focuses on understanding that there’s no rules saying what you can and can’t do to protect your own life in an active shooter situation. The method says to be aware of anything in your room you could use as a weapon, and to not fight fairly. Going for weak spots like the groin and throat are recommended.

“The bottom line is that we all deserve to live,” Padovan said. “So we all have to say ‘Is my phone charged?’, ‘Am I prepared?’.”

Padovan said that in an active shooter situation, first responders have been trained by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training to go in toward the threat.

Padovan said to always listen to the police commands once they arrive on the scene. They’re going to assess threats by asking to see your hands, and Padovan said not to have anything in your hands that may look like a weapon, such as a cell phone. 

UHPD has card or key access to every door on campus, Padovan said, and as the situation begins and ends campus would be notified by a text from the UH Alert system.

Emergency notifications will also be sent with any necessary information, such as which buildings to stay inside or away from. 

“We need to make sure that we are signed up, and that all of our information is up to date and correct,” Padovam said.

Padovan said to follow the directions of the alert, start locking doors of the room you’re in, turn out the lights, silence all phones and stay out of sight until further updates. 

UHPD will also be posting social media updates to the situation, and you can follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Padovan recommends to always make sure to have a charged phone, understand CPR in case the situation arises, and to always be aware of your surroundings. She said that even a small bag with a portable charger, extra pen, screwdriver, small first aid kit and a flashlight can be helpful. 

UHPD recommends watching this video produced by the ALERRT Center for more details on staying safe in an active shooter situation.

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