document-reviewingColleges nationwide are revisiting their emergency-response plans in the wake of the attack on the Ohio State University campus Monday that left 11 injured and the attacker dead.

Many universities, including Ohio State’s Columbus campus, are located in urban areas that can’t be completely cordoned off from vehicular traffic or unauthorized people. And while access to residence halls is often restricted to students, authorities remain concerned about what happens if a student is the assailant.

The attacker at the Ohio State campus, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was a logistics-management student at the business school and officials say he may have been inspired by the Islamic State terror group.

Campuses are among a number of so-called soft targets, along with malls and restaurants, that have been hit by individuals seeking to cause mayhem in recent years. There were 20 active-shooter incidents each across the U.S. in 2014 and 2015, according to a Justice Department review of law enforcement records. That is up from 17 in 2013. Meanwhile, there have been 205 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013, including at K-12 schools and colleges, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that advocates to reduce gun violence.

Many college administrators say they are using this week’s attack as an opportunity to remind their communities about safety procedures and training programs available closer to home.

George Washington University in Washington, D.C., tweeted a notice Tuesday highlighting its emergency-alert plan and linking to an emergency preparedness pocket guide and a video about how to respond to an active shooter.

The video advised viewers to “Get out, hide out, take out,” a variation on the “Run, Hide, Fight” plan used at schools including Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas.

When confronted by an active shooter, local and federal safety officials say, individuals should try to escape. If they can’t run away, they should hide. And if they can’t hide, and only if their lives are in imminent danger, they are encouraged to fight and incapacitate a shooter, according to a notice published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Maureen Rush, vice president for public safety and the superintendent of police at the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, said schools revamped their emergency-response and active-shooter protocols after the 1999 Columbine school shooting—and continue to make enhancements.

Penn’s 117-officer police force recently ran a three-day firearm training program in which officers role-played in cars, rescuing people who may have been shot across the street, Ms. Rush said. The school also regularly trains with police from Philadelphia, nearby Drexel University, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, and even responds to 911 calls that come in to the city police.

“If we had an active shooter, God forbid, that would be a protracted situation that would need the participation of all of our partners,” she said. “Those relationships are paramount.”

New laws allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, including in Texas, have the potential to complicate the Run Hide Fight protocol. But school safety officials say they still train individuals to fight only as a last resort.

“Having a weapon is not a license to go hunting,” said Chris Meyer, associate vice president for safety and security at Texas A&M University. “We don’t want people who are carrying a weapon to hear a shooting in one part of the building and go looking for the shooter.”

Attacks on campuses often highlight holes in schools’ plans, and spur changes.

In June, a University of California, Los Angeles graduate student shot and killed a professor and then himself. The incident resulted in a campuswide lockdown, with widespread confusion fueled by rumors that there were multiple shooters at various locations.

A task force created after the shooting recommended more frequent staff and student emergency-response training, more wardens to conduct emergency drills and a requirement that all faculty, staff and students provide cellphone numbers to the school so they could receive emergency-alert text messages.

The task force also recommended the school use Facebook Inc.’s “safety check” feature, or a similar social media system, to enable students to notify friends and family that they are safe.

Oklahoma State University assisted police at its Stillwater, Okla., campus in enhancing security ahead of this year’s homecoming parade. At last year’s parade, a drunken driver plowed into a crowd of viewers, killing four and injuring 47.

The city placed large trucks near intersections on the parade route and shut down more streets surrounding the celebration this year, according to Carrie Hulsey-Greene, an Oklahoma State spokeswoman.

In the past few years, the campus has also added barricades in front of major sporting events and placed gates on major thoroughfares, pushing vehicles to circuitous side roads that demand slower speeds.

Kansas State University locked down its Manhattan, Kan., campus in September 2015 for several hours when an armed robbery suspect was believed to be at large. The lockdown was lifted after police determined the suspect had left the area, and school officials reminded students after the lockdown to sign up for its smartphone alert system.

Lt. Brad Millington of the Kansas State University Police Department said the Ohio attack reinforced the importance of such emergency-alert systems.

“You never know where it’s going to happen,” Lt. Millington said. “Hopefully it never happens here, but we feel that we’re trained and will respond accordingly.”

Write to Melissa Korn at, Kris Maher at and Douglas Belkin at

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