With the number of lone wolf terror attacks on the rise across the world, and with little prospect of governments being able to prevent them, it’s time to take matters into our own hands, and do whatever is possible to protect ourselves in an incident.
Security authorities around the world now agree that the best course of action is NOT to shelter in place – in other words hide under your desk – but to RUN to safety if you can, or to HIDE in a secure location.
During the June 2017 London Bridge terror attack UK police used this protocol for the first time: Run, Hide, Tell is their mantra, but the head of London Police’s antiterrorism unit also adds in this video explaining the strategy, that if both of those actions fail to protect you, and you come face-to-face with an attacker you may choose to fight back – physically.
The US Department of Homeland Security is more explicit, and includes FIGHT as it’s third part of the strategy. This is a methodology that has proven success and was put into action in the London Borough market attack.
Scores of ordinary people confronted by the armed terrorists fought back by throwing tables and chairs and drink glasses. Reports suggest the first police officer on the scene at London Bridge took on all 3 terrorists while armed with just his baton, and was very effective – the so-called lone wolfs turned out to be stray mutts it seems.
You don’t have to be armed to fight back, you can use with anything you have, an umbrella, a tape dispenser (they’re usually quite heavy), even a pen. But is vital that you commit to the fight, and don’t stop until you are dead or the attacker has stopped.
Run, Hide, Tell (& Fight) are actions to take when you’re IN the moment. But how you prepare for that moment is crucial. It is natural human instinct to “freeze” when something unusual occurs. It is actually taking the brain a few seconds to comprehend this abnormal behaviour. It’s called normalcy latency. Almost all of the deaths in an active shooter situation occur in the first few minutes while victims are stunned and try to make a decision about what to do.
If you have already made up your mind about what to do in such a situation – through preparation – you can spring into action (run, hide), and those seconds may keep you alive. There’s a theory and deep research behind this method. If you want to know more look up the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) that is credited to master military strategist John Boyd – starting with this great article, then follow the links.
Be prepared but don’t be paranoid. Sadly these are skills we will have to incorporate in our daily lives, but they don’t have to be a burden. For example, we all know that stepping out in front of traffic could have deadly consequences. To combat that we know to look before we step out. We do it instinctively, but we had to learn that skill. Schools teach it to young children and parents are always reinforcing that message.
One day soon checking for exits, listening for sounds, observing unusual behaviour and having a plan of action will be just as instinctive.