Hostage situation


Procedure title:Hostage Situation
Effective date: May 2014
Revision date: May 2016


This procedure provides direction to the campus community when responding to an incident or emergency that may threaten the institution’s processes, the safety of its employees and students, or the facility itself.


Hostage refers to a person being held by a captor.
Hostage-taker refers to a person who seizes one or more hostages.
Hostage situation refers to an individual forcefully restricting the movements and actions of another person(s) through threats or violence.


If you become aware of a hostage situation:

  • If you believe that it is safe, exit the building immediately and move far away from the building, in a direction away from the hostage-taker;
  • Notify anyone you may encounter as you go, to exit the building immediately;
  • Assist persons with disabilities in exiting the area; and
  • Notify Campus Security at ext. 2400 from a campus phone or 905.721.3211 from an external line.

If you are directly involved in the incident and exiting the building is not possible, the following actions are recommended:

  • Go to the nearest room or office, close and secure the door and/or barricade the door if possible;
  • Cover any glass panel in the door and windows if possible;
  • Go to the farthest point away from the door or windows;
  • Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room, stay close to the floor;
  • DO NOT respond to requests to open the door until and unless you are sure that it is Durham Regional Police outside; and
  • Notify Campus Security at ext.2400 if there is a phone in the room and provide the following information:
    • Your name;
    • Location of incident (be specific as possible);
    • Identification and or description of the hostage-taker(s);
    • Number of people who may be involved;
    • Your present location; and
    • Wait for Durham police or Campus Security to assist you out of the building (which may include raising your arms demonstrating that you have no objects in your hands).

If you are unable to safely escape or hide, you may be able to negotiate with the hostage-taker. Consider the following:

  • Be patient, remain calm. The initial period of time, approximately 30 to 45 minutes, is the most dangerous.  Remember the hostage-taker may be emotionally unstable;
  • Call Campus Security at ext. 2400 or 905.721.3211. Do not hang up the phone unless ordered to do so by the hostage-taker;
  • Don’t speak unless spoken to and then only when necessary. Remain calm, sound confident, do not raise the tone of your voice, and don’t talk down to the hostage-taker;
  • Attempt to establish a rapport – use first names to humanize both you and the others;
  • Do not invade the hostage-taker’s personal space;
  • Do not touch or challenge the hostage-taker;
  • Do not accept the weapon if offered, ask that it be laid down;
  • Be observant — your personal safety and the safety of others may depend on your memory; and
  • Be prepared to answer the police on the phone. If medications, first aid, or restroom privileges are needed by anyone, say so.

In the event of an injury:

In the event an injury occurs, please contact your immediate supervisor to inform her or him of the incident. Next, you or your supervisor must fill out an Accident/Incident Report Form.

For Durham College employees, the form can be located on the employee intranet, ICE, under Forms, then Human Resources, and Accident, Injury. For more information, please refer to the Durham College Accident Reporting Procedure (EMPL-301.1), also located on ICE.

UOIT employees can access the form through the website. On the homepage, click Faculty and Staff, then Campus Services, and Health and Safety. For more information, please refer to the Accident Reporting Procedure, which is located on the website.

Authority and responsibilities

Security supervisors, the manager of Public Safety and Security and the emergency manager are responsible for establishing communication with the Durham Regional Police Service, which has authority governing shooting and hostage incidents.

The Emergency Management Response Team (EMRT) and the Office of Campus Safety will be responsible for enforcing and communicating these procedures to staff and students.

Faculty, staff, and students will be responsible for taking direction from the appropriate authorities and contributing to a safe and secure environment.


Durham College and UOIT Emergency Preparedness Plan & Policy

Durham College Emergency Preparedness Policy ADMIN-211

Durham College Accident Reporting Procedure EMPL-301.1

UOIT Accident Reporting Procedure