Patrick Hoy believes that with the right preparation, most people can survive an active shooting situation.

Hoy, an Air Force veteran who recently opened PJJH Survival Perspectives, conducts trainings with area businesses on how to respond to an active shooter. Speaking on Wednesday to a crowd of about 50 at the SafetyFestMT, a Department of Labor and Industry workplace safety conference, Hoy said the “do’s” boil down simply to run, hide, fight. (That’s borrowed from a popular active shooter training video on YouTube.)

Whenever possible, people should get away from the shooter and out of the building. If that isn’t possible, hiding in closets or other locked rooms is best. And when there’s no chance for that, people should act quickly and aggressively to disarm or surprise the shooter, tackling them or improvising to use office equipment as weapons.

“If you throw something at this guy, he’s likely to duck,” Hoy said.

The “don’ts” are also fairly simple: Don’t freeze up or delay in acting, don’t remain in a questionable hiding place if you are still able to run, and don’t follow a shooter’s instructions, as they won’t likely offer an option for survival.

For instance, a shooter at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in 2015 questioned people one by one and shot them according to their answers. Hoy said that the process took time and involved the shooter focusing on one person individually, providing a window for others to act.

The scenarios can seem far-fetched for people who haven’t experienced them, he said, but any community could see a mass shooting.

In January 2015, a man wanted by the U.S. Marshal's Montana Violent Offender Task Force opened fire on officers outside Billings Clinic in broad daylight with members of the public nearby.

He said that most active shootings happen in places the shooter is familiar with, such as a workplace or school. Indeed, more companies are opting to buy active shooter insurance.

He said everyone should create a plan for such scenarios. 

That includes identifying back stairwells and building exits that are less frequented, lockable rooms throughout the building, and fire extinguishers, which can be used as weapons if needed. Hoy advises every employee to devise escape routes from their desk, from the bathroom, break room and other areas they spend time in.

Envisioning how to respond ahead of time can help people act quicker when they do experience a shooting.

For more information or to schedule a training, contact Shelly Popp at or 406-671-9505.