The 5 Words to Remember During an Active Shooter: KOODA

In the unfortunate case that you find yourself in the midst of an active shooter incident there are 5 words to remember; Know, Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. An easy acronym to remember these 5 words is KOODA.

What is KOODA?

KOODA is the acronym Head of Security uses to teach active shooter courses. We break down the course into two parts. Part one is K.O.O.D., or Know, Observe, Orient, and Decide. The second part is the A, Act.

The term KOODA is an extended version of the OODA Loop concept. The OODA Loop is a four-step approach to decision-making. Head of Security added the K for Know specifically to train students to become better observers of their surroundings and environments.


The first letter in KOODA is K for Know. Head of Security teaches our students to know their surroundings and environments. For instance, if you are a teacher at a school you must know where there are fire extinguishers, how many students are in your class, know what the procedures are for an active shooter, natural disasters, and much more.

Emergency exit and fire extinguisher

Knowledge is power. Not familiarizing yourself with your surroundings and environments can not only put you and your life in danger but others’ lives as well. The first thing you should do when you enter a new environment is to look around. Find where the closest exits are. Know who is around you. Furthermore, ask yourself if you feel safe.


Knowing your surroundings and environment go hand in hand with observing them. Next, after KNOW, is the O in KOODA, to OBSERVE. In order to know your environment you must first observe it. However, the reason KNOW is before OBSERVE is because before you can observe any anomalies around you, you must first know your environment.

A security guard observes his surroundings and environment.

Observing is an art form. KOODA shows students it takes knowledge of your current environment and a keen sense to know when there is a disturbance within said environment. For instance, if you are a teacher and have 20 students during the third period, but one student is missing for multiple days. You would first observe this before anything else. Furthermore, if said student returns to class, however, their behavior has changed from what it was before can also lead you to observe a disturbance within your environment.

Once you have observed a disturbance within your environment is when you can orient yourself to said disturbance.


Now that you know your environment and you have observed a disturbance within the said environment is when you must orient yourself to the disturbance. The third letter in KOODA.

When orienting one’s self to a disturbance within your environment means actively engaging the disturbance. You are now taking a vested interest in understanding the disturbance and figuring out what, if any, action needs to be taken.

For example, if the student returns to class after missing multiple days of school, one cannot simply ignore it. The teacher must have strategies to use to understand the situation. Once the teacher understands the situation is when they need to decide what to do next.


The fourth letter in KOODA is D for Decide.

Within our lives, we gather different tools. Tools can mean many different things such as communication skills, behavioral analysis, teaching a subject in school, and many others. Once the teacher has observed a disturbance within their environment and they have oriented themselves to said disturbance it is time to decide. They need to decide which tools to use to help the situation or prevent it from escalating.

After the decision has been made it is time to act.


Again, KOODA is broken down into two parts; K.O.O.D. and ACT. ACT is taking the game plan and shifting gears into drive. You are now putting your decision to the test with the tools you believe will help or prevent the situation from escalating.

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to acting, especially when it comes to an active shooter. The predominant theory is called, “Run, Hide, Fight.”

Run. Hide. Fight. Presented by and copyright to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Run means to do just that, get away from the situation. You are no longer engaging with the problem and have decided to remove yourself from the situation.

HIDE is similar to RUN in the sense that you are attempting to remove yourself from the situation. However, when it comes to hiding, you will find that you are still confronted with the situation or problem at hand. It is up to you or someone else to engage the problem now. But, since you have chosen to hide, you are essentially passing it off for someone else to handle.

Finally, there is FIGHT. Fight means engaging the problem head-on. You have decided to stay involved and attempt to help resolve the problem at hand. It can also mean to actively engage physically, for instance, if there is an actual active shooter or aggressor.

Choosing to fight is great. However, it requires training and a firm understanding of one’s limitations. A great place to start for a physical fight is to find an accredited Brazilian jiu-jitsu school local to you.

KOODA Conclusion

KOODA is meant to give readers the 5 words needed to remember during an active shooter incident. Know, Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. KOODA can be used in daily life to help you make decisions more effectively and efficiently. However, in times of emergency, like an active shooter, KOODA can be the difference between life and death.

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