With the recent terrorist activity in western nations, there have been a lot of questions coming in about how to stay safe in the event one were to find themselves in the location of such an attack. I will leave out such sections as what happens if they bomb your flight while you are at 30,000 feet. Everything here would still apply in the situation of a hijacking though. They have a varied playbook these days. In this article I am going to address my take on such situations.
Avoid the obvious targets.
As with any other topic related to self-defense and personal safety, this one should be a no-brainer. When you know the threat is out there, and they are making claims about what they will do, avoid the obvious targets. The terrorists use soft targets (such as gun-free zones), or very large gatherings.
The terrorists of our time no longer have lists of demands. This current crop is after exposure. They need media attention to their crimes and so they use these tactics to create waves of fear in entire populations. While the hype is that we should not alter our lifestyle because that means that they win, when one is concerned with actual safety and not little moral victories, avoid the probable target areas.
Do not deny or try to rationalize what is happening.
So let us say that you ended up in the wrong place at the worst possible time.
If you start trying to rationalize what is happening, you will get stuck in a mental loop because what is happening is not going to be rational.
If a gunman walks into the room shouting in arabic and starts firing, your mental connections of, “He must be lashing out in anger about global warming.” will not stop the bullets. The only thing in that situation that actually will stop the bullets is if he runs out of ammo or if someone stops the threat.
Where it is legal to do so, be armed. If it is legal where you live and you do not know how to use a firearm, get training in shooting and gun safety and become armed.
This is a training I am currently undergoing, and there will be a new section added to this blog to help others along the way.
Have a basic plan.
Some people are better off getting the hell out of the way when the bad guy starts killing people. Running at him unarmed and shouting about how he is acting in an unsafe manner is only going to get you killed. If you are not skilled in violence, and also mentally and physically able to execute violence at a level that will stop the threat, hide or get out of the way.
You know you better than I know you. If you are better off hiding or running away, do it.
Learn to improvise.
Okay, what if you are good at violence, bad at running and hiding, but not armed?
Learn to improvise.
Anything of moderate weight can be used as a blunt force weapon. Even those nations which politically seem to be unarmed could make a weapon out of anything that is still legal. Take a couple of ten inch long box-end wrenches and a dog collar and you have makeshift nunchucks. Belt with a steel buckle? Great flail. Padlock in a sock. A hard soled shoe. Laptop computer. A chair, broken table leg, beer stein, handful of black pepper, cup of hot coffee, frozen or poorly cooked pork chop…anything can be a weapon. Be willing and able to adapt to this fact.
Put away the distractions.
If you are going to be aware of what is happening, you need to put away the cell phone when you are out and about, in public if you will.
Stop paying so much attention to how many likes your status update has received and be aware of what is going on around you.
Know their playbook.
It seems that there is a trend to having secondary attacks. This is bad because people tend to let their guard down once they think the event is over. Keep your guard up and keep your eyes open to potential threats and secondary threats as things unfold.
When you act – ACT.
Whether action to you means running to call the Police, or hiding, or attacking the threat, do it with complete resolve. There is no wrong in this because each of these is an action and a personal choice. If you know you are not a fighter, stay out of the way. If you are a helper, but not a fighter, get help. Understand your strengths and use them to stay safe.
In the aftermath, be of service.
When the event is done, in order to be of good service, you need to have at least a basic understanding of first aid. If you are not CPR certified, get certified. Seek training in basic first aid and learn to keep people alive until the Paramedics arrive. If you gain the knowledge to lessen the body-count you are now a great asset against them.
Be a good witness.
Be able to provide clear descriptions of the people and events. Adrenaline plays havoc with the ability to do this, but hammer into your brain the need to describe who was doing what. Details are important. This is most easily developed into a habit by practicing when there is nothing out of the ordinary going on. Have your spouse grill you after a dinner party on what Mrs. So-n-so was wearing, or who was the person who decided to blow their nose during dinner, or what color shoes Lord Autumnbottom was wearing.
In short, this list is not really different from other topics in the area of self-defense and personal safety. The advice hold true in many different situations. Awareness and good decision making never seem to be a bad plan.