Department of Emergency Management and Security

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30p.m., Monday - Friday
4890 Alliance Drive, Suite 2200, Fairfax, VA 22030
Seamus Mooney

Acts of Violence/Terrorism

What It Is

Terrorism refers to the use of force or violence against persons or property for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. A terrorist assailant might use everyday items such as firearms, knives, of vehicles; purpose-made weapons such as improvised explosive devices; or weapons of mass destruction such as toxic or poisonous chemicals, biological weapons, or radiological-release devices.

An active assailant is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people, usually in a confined and populated area, and typically through the use of firearms. An individual may or may not have terrorist motives, and they may or may not have accomplices.

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Acts of Violence/Terrorism Hazard Annex

Click on the appropriate link below to download a PDF copy of the Cyber Attack Hazard Annex page from the Community Emergency Response Guide.

English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF) | Korean (PDF) | Arabic (PDF) | Mandarin (PDF) | Vietnamese (PDF)

Key Terms

  • The National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) is the US Department of Homeland Security’s threat advisory system, which provides timely information about credible terrorist threats.
  • Sheltering-in-place is selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there.
  • Lockdown means securing a building or physical space against intruders.

What To Do

  • Sign up for Fairfax Alerts and have a battery or crank powered NOAA weather radio available.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – if you see something, say something. Call 911.
  • Take notice of the behavior of individuals – if anything is out of place, report it.
  • Identify the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.
  • Become familiar with “Run, Hide, Fight” or “ALICE”.
  • Learn First Aid or’s “Stop the Bleed” program.
  • Refer to the “Medical Emergency" hazard page.

  • Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life.
  • In an active shooter/assailant situation:
    • Use Run Hide Fight and/or ALICE principles.
    • Silence your cell phone and remain quiet.
    • Leave your belongings behind.
    • Be out of an assailant’s view.
  • Listen to official information.

  • In an active shooter/ assailant situation:
    • Remember the primary responsibility of first responders is to stop the threat – stay out of their way and do not expect their help until the situation is secure.
    • If you see law enforcement officers, raise your arms and spread your fingers out.
    • Comply with all instructions from law enforcement officers.
    • Be out of an assailant’s view.
    • Officers are charged with clearing the building; they will enter every room. Be patient.

  • Receive physical First Aid and/or mental health First Aid, if necessary.
  • Report any medical conditions to first responders.
  • Do not interrupt the law enforcement investigation.
  • Check in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • If you did take pictures or witness any of the events, please notify law enforcement.
  • You may be treated as one of the suspects when law enforcement first arrives and may be told to raise your arms and walk out in that position. This is being done out of caution.

Run, Hide, Fight
  • Run: If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate.
  • Hide: If you can’t evacuate, find a place to hide.
  • Fight: If you can’t run or hide, attempt to disrupt or incapacitate the assailant.
  • Alert: Become aware, overcome denial, get ready to act.
  • Lockdown: If you can’t evacuate, barricade entry points to the room you are in.
  • Inform: Communicate information out, if it is possible and safe to do so.
  • Counter: Create noise, movement, distance, and distraction (this may be distinct from “fighting”).
  • Evacuate: When safe, remove yourself from the danger zone.
Fairfax Virtual Assistant