Handling Emergency Situations

This sheet summarizes the actions you should (or should not) take in a hostile or threatening situation. That way, if you are confronted by an angry, hostile, or threatening customer or coworker, you will know what you should do. Everyone in your office, including supervisors and managers, should follow these same procedures.


Angry or hostile customer or coworker

Stay calm.
Listen attentively.
Be courteous patient.
Maintain eye contact.
Keep the situation in your control.


Someone threatening with a gun, knife or other weapon

Stay calm.
Quietly signal for help. Use a duress alarm or code words.
Maintain eye contact.
Stall for time.
Keep talking, but follow instructions from the person who has the weapon.
Don't risk harm to yourself or others. Never try to grab a weapon.
Watch for a safe chance to escape to a safe area.

Shouting, swearing or threatening person

Signal a co-worker or supervisor that you need help.
Use a duress alarm system or prearranged code words.
Do not make any calls yourself.
Have someone call the security guard or local police.


Someone threatening over the telephone

Keep calm.
Keep talking. Don't hang up.
Signal a co-worker to call 911.
Ask the caller to repeat the message and write it down.
Write down whether it's a man or woman, pitch of voice, acent; anything else you hear.
Listen for background noises and write down a description.
For a bomb threat, ask where the bomb is and when it is set to go off.
Try to get the peron's name, exact location, and telephone number (if possible).
Repeat questions, if necessary.
Notify your immediate supervisor or agency emergency contact.