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Early Pioneers of Run Hide Fight Options-Based Training

As one of the pioneers of Run Hide Fight (RHF), I am frequently asked why I created AlerT (Assess, lockdown, evade, resist, Tell).  It was a major decision, but after much deliberation and research, I decided to re-engineer SafePlans’ entire active shooter response training to provide a training system that is more effective, functionally valid, and superior to all other programs – including Run Hide Fight.

I am very proud of the contributions I made in pioneering RHF. However, RHF was designed as basic individual response options for adults and was never designed for schools. Regardless of its application though, RHF has significant limitations, particularly “Hide,” which may only increase opportunities for victimization, by aiding the attacker.

Just as the tactics of mass killers evolve, so must our training.

AlerT Active Shooter Defense is the Evolution of Run Hide Fight for Schools

The core concepts I applied to RHF training are still fully valid and integrated within AlerT training. The AlerT training has been improved through research and development incorporating new science -based training tools such as teaching optimal survival response options, integrating strategies that improve situational awareness, stress inoculation techniques, and tactical decision making.


As the name suggests, AlerT promotes the importance of good situational awareness; which has always been (and remains) a core component of our training.  AlerT still emphasizes the yellow color stage in Cooper’s Color Codes to indicate good situational awareness.


Assessing is a critical first step in any emergency and is absent from various popular active shooter response programs – including Run Hide Fight, Avoid-Deny-Defend, and Standard Response Protocol.  AlerT training expands on this critical element and provides much greater detail and emphasis on its importance. 

AlerT teaches the mental process for decision making known as the Boyd Cycle or the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) Loop helping to determine the best option of: lockdown-evade-resist.


“Hide” in RHF does not mean lockdown. Lockdown requires 1) Access Control 2) Concealment 3) Cover or protection from gunfire.  AlerT utilizes the same impromptu strategies to secure classrooms and offices but emphasizes the need to re-learn lockdown. If all three lockdown criteria cannot be met, then evade is likely the best option.


Under direct contact, your best option is to run.  However, if under indirect contact, it does not make sense for teachers to tell students to run and thereby lose control and create panic.  Additionally, running increases the heart rate, which decreases situational awareness, motor skills, and decision making. Furthermore, not all students and staff can run, special needs students for example.  Evade encompasses the need to run or escape under direct contact, and our AlerT training conveys it should be more of a strategic and tactical movement.


Resist is the last resort when lockdown or evade are not options. “Resist” is more appropriate for the school environment than “Fight.”  “Resist” also applies to the mindset needed when actively implementing lockdown or evade.  The body cannot go where the mind has not been.  AlerT training does not encourage the training of students to “Fight” an active shooter. “Resist” promotes a survival mindset, instructing that you do not have to be a victim. Victimology is a process and your mind-set will determine your probability to be a victim.


Alerting others and calling 911 is a critical part of response and not a part of Run Hide Fight or ADD.  “Tell” is the last step in AlerT because it is imperative to take action to protect yourself, and those under your care, before calling 911.

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