What to do when you are under a terrorist attack
To protect as many innocents on an attack site as possible, in practical terms a number of fundamentals must be in play. A terrorist or, as may be more commonly expected, an attack by a manic or violent troubled soul, may use explosives or guns. We will focus on a gun attack here. It must be said that there is a vast difference between a random, say mugging, attack in the street and an attack at a target site. Resources that it is not possible to have available in the street, may be made readily available on a known target site. Target sites can be Defense facilities, shopping malls, schools etc. As Defense facilities hardly need advice on defense, we will focus on the last two examples of civilian sites and call them here Site or Sites.
What assistance can officials offer? In regard to schools, if teachers are unarmed, how are they to protect the children/students in their care? A guard or two cannot reasonably cover a whole institution. If the authorities are worried about teachers in classrooms carrying guns, then perhaps a solution would be that teachers be issued with rubber bullet firing weapons, or similar, that might incapacitate a killer, yet not be very effective in hurting students. Teachers need a mobile phone with a speed-dial setup to their central office.
For survival, or at least a chance of survival, the following fundamentals are recommended (others may be devised):
Terrorists or maniacs with guns wish to mow people down, so they attack sites where people congregate. So it would be beneficial if, when you are in a Shopping Mall or School say, to keep your wits about you. It must be stressed that this means just observing in a relaxed manner, not stressing and shaking one’s mind insensibly by wild imagined fears. Especially observe people, not objects (except cars), nor buildings. Objects or buildings will rarely attack you. Focus on people who are stationary and who you will go passed, and also on people who are coming towards your area. Those moving away from you can conveniently be discounted.
One should not be in anxiety, expecting an assault at every moment, as that would be counterproductive to long term awareness. Instead, practice staying relaxed, like a leopard in a tree, with only your senses and mind surveying the scene.
You can stage Plays in your mind and not even have to pay for entry. When you are anywhere you can play with attack possibilities: If in this Site, a gunman now started shooting – what could/would you do? What cover is there? Where are the exit passages? Where can help be got? How can you safely raise an alarm? What communications are available to you? Where are the rest of your family/companions?
If unarmed, you need to leave the scene pronto. If armed, the same applies, unless you can take out the attacker without getting killed, and there may be more than just one attacker hidden from your view. A shooter (unless a sniper) will be moving in order to make contact with as many panicking and fleeing people as possible. If you are armed, trained and proficient, stationary and shooting behind cover: you will have an advantage in accuracy, depending on the range, and on obstructions caused by people in the line of sight.
From Scenario Projections you formulate a Crisis Plan, an emergency procedure. If it is not just for you but for family, then they should not only know it, but be agreeable and mime it. Crisis plans should be simple and flexible to change, for, as Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan, until they get wacked in the mouth. Weapons such as knives, clubs and guns give the advantage in a fight of being able to attack at a distance greater than the victim can. Guns give an especially long distance, which is why armies focus more on shooting than they do on hand-to-hand combat. Distance, or the use of it, wins or loses many fights. So a civilian in an armed conflict best makes use of Distance by fast making distance, by Running from danger. It is a priority for their safety. Know your limitations, as the gunfighter Clint Eastwood would say.
A Plan could be as simple as: Hear/see shots fired; Take cover; and/or get ready to flee in the right direction; decide and move. Move things to obstruct a gunman getting access to you if you can (moving to not be seen; close and lock doors; a chair under the doorknob to brace it; simply carrying a doorstopper in your pocket for a door that won’t lock). If you are ringing police you should be moving away if you can and continuously watching the scene. If you have a flash camera ready and a gunman turns to shoot you then firing the flash at his eyes may be your only hope, as would be throwing objects at his head.
If you have students and a gunman coming to the door, then locking the door and going out the windows would be better than an unlocked door and hiding under tables and in closets. All classrooms should have doors boltable from the inside.
4..BOOST YOUR ABILITIES
Intelligent people Think ahead in time. Practical people Act ahead of time. Only the stupid and lazy are fully helpless. If you live in a dangerous environment where gangsters operate, a warzone, or work where someone can start shooting at innocents, then getting armed and trained in use is a sensible consideration. Take a First Aid course so you can help others (might also help if able to dress your own wounds). Take a Self Defense course, if may help in a scrap but more importantly it will (or should) teach awareness and your limitations physically.
With Self Defense skills you may live a little longer than otherwise. Of course training must be frequent, if only for short sessions; and your Self defense application may only involve a good running willingness and ability. Remember that if you can hear shots then you must still be alive, so make your Crisis plan an Action plan, not an obituary. Don’t forget to deliberately Breathe slow and deep – if the body is not hyperventilating then it is telling the mind that it is OK and that helps to calm your mind. Be your own best friend and First Aider and calm yourself. You need your mind calmer and active to move your body to safety and not run in the wrong direction.