Post‐secondary institutions introduce 'active shooter' education for Campus Alberta

Video uses intense dramatization to show students and staff what to do in an unthinkable situation.


(Edmonton) A group of Alberta post-secondary institutions launched an initiative today to educate students and staff about how to respond in an active shooter situation. 

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.

“It is extremely unlikely that any member of our communities will get caught in an active shooter situation,” says Philip Stack, associate vice-president of risk management at the University of Alberta and chair of the Campus Alberta Risk and Assessment Commitee. “But we need to recognize that unthinkable things like this can happen anywhere.”

The group has produced a short video that includes a dramatization of an active shooting scenario. The dramatization is supported by a voiceover and on-screen instructions. The instructions stress three courses of action: escaping when possible, hiding and barricading when necessary, and as a final resort, using force against the assailant.

“The messages are blunt and the dramatization is intense,” says Stack. “But we are speaking to an adult audience and we need to hold their attention while giving them vital information.”

The partner institutions, which include Concordia University College, MacEwan University, Mount Royal University, NorQuest College, SAIT Polytechnic, the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge, consulted with police experts while developing the materials, which are available to all post-secondary institutions across the province on a cost-recovery basis.

“A critical part of this initiative,” says Stack, “is to ensure that the various police forces across the province know what we’re telling our communities to do in these situations. Having police representation as we worked on this material gives us additional confidence we’re giving the right messages.”

Stack says the developers of the video relied extensively on existing materials and training available in various jurisdictions in Canada and the United States.