The fight or flight response is the bodies automatic response to danger that floods the body with adrenalin and cortisol to give a person a sudden burst of energy to help them escape or defend themselves against a threat.
In a situation where a person is in physical danger, whether an active shooter, a knife assailant or a fire, by understanding what is happening to your body when you enter ‘fight or flight’ mode can help you avoid panic and make better decisions. Continue Learning >
What happens to our bodies
during the fight
or flight response?

The fight or flight reaction is an automatic response – it will happen to everyone involved in a stressful situation, and it’s nothing to be afraid of or concerned about. By learning about what is happening in your body, and the phases of the fight or flight, the panic that you feel initially, can be managed.

When you are exposed to an extreme stress situation the body floods hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol which shunts blood flow to major muscle groups and alters other autonomic nervous functions. The surge of hormones has several quick effects on the body, we lose the ability to carry out actions that require fine motor skills, as our hands and fingers shake.

Our vision becomes a tunnel, and with the blood flow moved to the muscles, we are unable to concentrate or perform complex tasks – we’re capable only of using basic movements – gross motor skills – these are large scale movements that involve the torso, arms and legs to make whole body movements.

At the same time, our hearing closes off and in the tight spaces of a building, where the sound of a gunshot will echo in rooms, through hallways and with our senses already shortened, it will be almost impossible for the occupants to know where the shot came from.

Unaware. Relaxed, comfortable or daydreaming.


Aware. No direct threat but aware of the environment.


Unaware. Relaxed, comfortable or daydreaming.


Unaware. Relaxed, comfortable or daydreaming.


Unaware. Relaxed, comfortable or daydreaming.


The Cooper Color Code

The Cooper Color Code system of awareness uses color to profile a person’s psychological condition dealing with a life-threatening situation. Developed by Lt. Col Jeff Cooper, Marine Corps retired, the system includes four colors that depict a person’s mental state during a dangerous event. These colors represent levels of awareness: White, Yellow, Orange, Red and Black. Each one describes a process and can enable a positive or negative outcome depending on the person’s reaction to the situation.

Black was added to the Cooper Color Code. It is also possible for someone to move along the Color Code, to go from white through yellow, orange and to red.

How the fight or flight response informed the design of Go-to-Green?

In an active shooter incident, an attack at a hotel, or in any crowded location, with our senses limited from adrenaline and cortisol coursing through our bodies, the mass panic and our body primed for run, hide or fight – making that decision independently is a very difficult choice. If we don’t know the location of the assailant – how can we decide upon which course of action to take? The first thing we understood in approaching go-to-green is that we needed a means to identify and update the location of the shooter. Mobile phones are ubiquitous, but their use requires fine motor skills and would be difficult to use when running or in a panic.

The solution had to be intuitive and universal – it had to operate at the same level of instinct that drives the fight or flight response.

Around the world, the traffic light system has taught us to cross a road or an intersection when the light is green, but to wait when it’s red. Every person on the planet has been taught that ‘green means go’ and that ‘red means stop’.

Using acoustic gun-shot detection, we knew we could accurately locate a ‘shooter’ from the shots fired and capture their location with each additional shot as they moved through an environment.

The responsive lighting system provides us with the means to direct occupants of an indoor location or visitors at an outdoor environment away from the shooter.

Take a look at our video of Go-to-Green in action.