Terrorism is a real threat to modern society. Unfortunately, it is trending upward increasing at a rate of 10% per year. Hundreds of movies and television shows feature acts of terrorism or even revolve around it entirely. A few examples include The Avengers, Arrow, White House Down, 24 and many others.
The recent attacks in Paris have heightened awareness and response to terrorism to an all-time high. Never in history has the threat of terrorism been so prevalent in the mind of the worldwide community. Most of us will never have to deal with terrorism directly. But, what can you do to prepare yourself if it ever does happen?
Terrorist attacks will often seem random to a simple observer, but to a terrorist organization these are coordinated, meaningful targets. The more people they can damage physically and psychologically the better the target. Large groups of people in public locations are much more likely to get hit than a private individual’s home. Now, we aren’t advocating that you bolt yourself into your zombie-proof home and never venture outside. Take the time to be observant when you are in a public place, a stadium, or an office building. Where are the exits or places for cover? Be mindful of your surroundings.
Find Cover and Escape
Retreating from a dangerous situation seems like common sense; however, some people may freeze in the moment or enter a state a panic. Try to remain in control, and look for cover right away, especially if you are within the vicinity of immediate gunfire. Look for brick walls, cars, or large natural landscapes to hide behind. Avoid gathering in large open areas or in crowds. Try finding a safe escape route as quickly as you can and take it without hesitation. If there is excessive smoke or gas in the air, cover your mouth and nose as much as you can. Leave personal belongings behind except your cell phone. These will only slow you down and leave you more vulnerable.
Reassess your situation often. Terrorist attacks are usually dynamic and you will need to have a level head. Look for better cover or shelter. Consider arming yourself with something heavy or sharp as a makeshift weapon. You should only use a weapon to defend yourself upon discovery. If you hear any instructions from an authority figure, follow them immediately.
If it is safe to get information to the police or others, do so. The more information they have the better they will be able to make decisions. Never endanger yourself or others to gain such information. Try to obtain information such as a description of the offender and where he may be headed. Other details to note include:
- Descriptions of weaponry the terrorist(s) may be using
- Number and status of other victims around you
- Motives or intent of the terrorist(s)
- Number of terrorists
All these could be valuable clues to help authorities plan a better rescue.
Their first priority will be to find the suspect. This could mean moving past people who need help. They won’t be able to distinguish you from a gunman right away. Police response will be armed and ready to shoot if they think you pose a threat. Avoid quick movements and keep your hands visible.
You must keep a level head and make rational decisions. There is no magic formula that will cover every situation that could come up in a terrorist attack so use your best judgement. Terrorists are likely to be trained combatants so avoid taking them head on unless you are trained to do so. Fear is natural but don’t let it control your decisions. Prepare ahead of time by keeping a first aid kit at home, work or in your car. Do what you need to do to survive.