Canadian Security Magazine

Active shooter exercise at OCAD University, Toronto

By Canadian Security   

News Campus active shooter emergency management guardly toronto police

In recent weeks, Toronto's OCAD University held an active shooter exercise in conjunction with Toronto Police as well as technology provider Guardly. Guardly recently detailed the experience on their website. For more information, the full blog post and images posted via Twitter, refer to the Guardly website.


The goal of the exercise was to recreate a highly dynamic, fast-moving situation that could draw upon key emotions such as fear, terror and surprise to train both police officers and campus security managers and guards on how to manage these situations as best as possible, whilst utilizing all the technological resources they have at hand to ensure best possible outcomes including:

• Neutralizing the gunman or gunmen
• Decreasing overall time of active threat
• Minimizing total casualties
• Recommending to people indoors to exit the building using safe pathways to lower-risk areas
• Locating injured victims and getting them medical assistance

The morning began with a lecture from Toronto Police on “Confronting an Active Attacker,” which provided some good foundational information on what to expect when confronting a gunman at a school or other location. The presentation also highlighted the importance of early identification (and remedy) of mental health problems in many of the active shooter cases.


Two scenarios were run over the course of the day, and they involved single shooter and multiple gunman scenarios, clothing changes and other plot changes to increase the level of difficulty for responding officers. As if responding to an active gunman threat wasn’t difficult enough?

A core part of the active shooter simulation involved the use of OCAD University’s campus security technologies to become informed that a shooter was now present on campus, inform others that there is now an active threat on campus endangering many lives, locate the gunmen within the building and work together with Toronto Police to neutralize the threats and get help to the injured as quickly as possible.

In one of the scenarios, a Guardly alert from a smartphone was used to generate a phone call and visual indicator into OCADU campus security that an active shooter threat was now present on campus; the phone call was not picked up due to the active threat, but text-based communication with security was facilitated through Guardly’s secure and encrypted chat features. The alert also pin-pointed the exact indoor location within the building from which the alert was generated, in this case it was 100 McCaul, Floor 2, Pink Stairwell K — useful information when needing to locate a shooter quickly in a large building.

From there, the OCADU campus security team initiated mass notifications to inform others within the building that a threat was present with instructions on how to conduct themselves to minimize further casualties. The security team utilized IPS-tagged text messages and IPS-tagged photos/images from the Guardly app, along with information from their VMS system to follow the gunmen as they changed locations within the building.

The exercise took place in OCADU’s 6-storey, 100 McCaul building, which is actually considered 2 buildings: The Main Building (levels 1-4) and the Sharp Centre for Design (levels 5-6).

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