Clemson first-responders to have active shooter exercise on campus March 19

March 12, 2019

Clemson University first-responders will conduct an active shooter exercise Tuesday, March 19, in the central campus area. The exercise will be during the week of spring break, when it will cause less disruption than when classes are in session.

Clemson University and city police, fire and EMS will participate in the exercise along with about 150 participants who will act as role players, bystanders or exercise observers.

Exercise organizers police Lt. Chris Harrington and fire Capt. William Shivar don’t want to be more specific about the location of the exercise so first-responders react just as they would in a real emergency, arriving at the scene without prior preparation.

Shivar and Harrington are trying to make it as realistic as possible with police firing blanks and “victims” made up with moulage, artistically applied makeup that looks like real wounds.

“The more this exercise looks and sounds like a real event, the better the training experience will be for our first-responders,” said Harrington. “We want them to act like they would if there was a real shooter on campus.”

The exercise will be from 10 a.m. to noon, but actors will be gathering early in the morning before the exercise and participants will meet afterward to review it. The parking lot on the east side of Cooper Library will be closed Tuesday to provide parking for emergency vehicles.

A reminder CU Safe Alert will be sent to announce the start of the exercise.

Clemson last conducted an active shooter exercise in 2016.

“We believe it’s important to conduct this training for our officers and safety personnel regularly. It’s the ‘worst-case scenario’ on college campuses today and we want to be prepared to respond appropriately and save lives,” said Shivar.

Along with first-responders, participants include the university Emergency Management office and the Office of Strategic Communications.

“In an active shooter event, first responders from multiple agencies and disciplines will be required to work seamlessly together to stop the violence and treat those impacted,” said police Chief Greg Mullen. “This exercise will elevate our response and recovery capabilities, increase coordination, and build confidence among public safety personnel. Each of these elements are critical to our ongoing commitment to keeping Clemson’s campus safe.”

Observers will monitor the emergency teams’ actions and evaluate them to help identify training needs for first-responders.

What to do in a real active shooter situation

Clemson University police say you should be prepared to act in the unlikely event you are confronted by an active shooter. You have three options: RUN, HIDE or FIGHT:

1 – RUN

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • If there is a safe path out, evacuate.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Help others escape, if possible.
  • Do not attempt to move the wounded.
  • Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible so police know you are not armed.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.

2 – HIDE

  • Hide in an area out of the shooter’s view.
  • Lock the door or block entry to your hiding place; turn off the lights.
  • Silence your cell phone (including vibrate mode) and remain quiet.


  • Fight as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with as much physical aggression as possible.
  • Improvise weapons or throw items at the active shooter.
  • Commit to your actions. Your life depends on it.

The first officers to arrive on scene will not stop to help the injured. Expect rescue teams to follow initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove injured.

Once you have reached a safe location, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned.

Do not leave the area until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

The Department of Homeland Security has produced a video about what to do in an active shooter situation.