New online program teaches how to survive an active shooter

June 03, 2014

A training program that uses chilling realism to demonstrate how to survive an active shooter is now available for the campus community.

StaySAFE: Surviving an Active Shooter is available to anyone with a Penn State Access ID at The strategies in the Penn State Public Media-produced program follow the acronym SAFE, defined as:

-- Search for a safe place.
-- Alert the authorities.
-- Find a place to hide.
-- End the threat.

The program addresses how to identify violent situations, what to do, what to expect from law enforcement and how University emergency warning systems will be used. A key piece of the training is a seven-minute video depicting two attackers who detonate a bomb outside the Business Building and storm in with rifles. Clad in black hats, black shirts and toting black duffel bags, the men begin firing in the halls leaving multiple bodies on the floor. Students and employees filled most of the roles, with makeup artist creating wounds and burns for several of them. 

“Presented from a victim or witness perspective, the video depicts several worst-case scenarios, but most importantly it depicts tangible things witnesses can do to help mitigate the impact,” said University Police Chief Tyrone Parham at the time of the filming in July. “The video also helps viewers realize that it can happen here. That’s the reason we wanted to film on our campus and use the campus community in the video.”

The creators of the video were lauded in May with a Bronze Telly Award in the safety category. 

James Espy, director and co-producer, said “Receiving this award is great recognition for the mission of the program, the training it provides and for Penn State Public Media. I am honored to be a part of such a great cause and helping to educate people on this topic.”

The current training program goes beyond mass shootings, depicting various acts of violence that have occurred around the nation since the release in 2010 of Penn State’s previous active shooter safety video, The Five Outs.

Rebecca Bywater, Penn State’s threat assessment and community education director, said the University answered a demand from the campus community for online training in this area. Previously, the University only offered the active shooter program through in-person sessions. University Police will still provide in-person training, Bywater said, but the entire StaySAFE program can be completed online.

“Even though it’s a Penn State program, the same StaySAFE model can be utilized not only here at campus but also in your daily life,” Bywater said. “Whenever you graduate or move to another institution or move to a different area those same StaySAFE principles are always going to be there.”

Anyone interested in scheduling an in-person training session, can contact the University Police and Public Safety Community Eduction Division at 814-865-5871.

Last Updated June 03, 2014