The UK and Europe are currently in the mist of a sustained period of terrorist attacks from Islamic extremists. With three attacks in three months in the UK from London to Manchester, targeting tourists, policemen and families of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds, what can you do to reduce the risks to you and your family during a terrorist attack.
Run, Hide, Tell, is the UK Government's advice on what to do if you are in the horrific situation of being subjected to a terrorist attack. But what are the practicalities?
This differs from the American, Run, Hide, Fight advice, and rightly so because we are British and that's just not what we do. Seriously though, Run, Hide, Tell does make more sense because you don't need to be told to fight, those that would fight will do it naturally and it's a small minority of the population, so for the majority, Run, Hide, Tell does make more sense.
I'm a security consultant, 37 years old, ex Army officer, specialist close protection operator, enjoy fitness and train in Muay Thai kick boxing. I have no doubt that I could out Run even the most enthusiastic Islamic extremist, I'd even take my chances on Fight if Run wasn't an option and I'd like to think I could hold my own. However the situation changes considerably when I have my eight year old boy and six year old girl with me.
All of a sudden Run, Hide, Tell isn't as straight forward as it might seem.
In any overwhelming and out of the norm situation the normal reaction is to freeze, pause and allow yourself time to try and work out if what you are experiencing is actually happening. This is time that you just don't have in the event of a terrorist incident, you've got to react immediately.
If you haven't directly witnessed the terrorist incident but you hear an explosion or gun shots or see people running and shouting about a terrorist attack, then do not run. Because if you are running with a crowd of people and you're with your children, all of a sudden you've become the slowest people in that crowd. Hide immediately, move into a shop, into their stock room and barricade the door, go into a restaurant and into the toilets and lock the door, or go into a hotel and start to make your way to the upper floors away from the lobby. The terrorists want easy targets and speed is not only critical for you, but also critical for them, as the longer the attack takes, the greater the likelihood that they will be stopped or killed. They want crowds, congregations of people, or those that have froze, so they can inflict maximum carnage in the smallest amount of time. What they don't want is to be running through a shop trying to break into the stock room, or moving through a restaurant to the toilets where they will in effect trap themselves and leave themselves open for a counter attack, or to be running up the stairs in a hotel on the off chance that their next victim might appear. Once you are in your place of refuge then stay there until someone tells you that it is safe to come out. If the police tell you what to do then do exactly what they say.
If you directly see a terrorist attack or hear someone shout Allahu Akbar then again you must react straight away. If you see someone close to you firing a gun then you need to drop to the floor immediately and drag your kids with you, before huddling them under you and shielding them from the threat. If you hear someone shout Allahu Akbar but don't hear firing or see them stabbing, then again, react immediately, drop to the floor and drag your children with you. If you witness people being stabbed and don't have time to move into a place of refuge then you need to put barriers between your family and the attacker. If in a restaurant then use a table. If in the street, a railway station or shopping centre, then use your shopping bags, suitcase or your extended umbrella. Remember, they want easy targets and the harder you can make it, the more likely that they will move onto the next target away from your family.
The world as we know it has changed, the Islamic extremist threat is here to stay so maybe it's time to start rethinking about how you go about your normal everyday life to reduce the likelihood of your family being the victims of a terrorist attack.
If going to a restaurant then why not sit towards the back to give yourself more time to get into the toilets to lock your family away should someone try to attack through the front door. If you are traveling, where possible try to avoid the peak travel times as these will be the busiest and therefore most crowded so the best time to attack. At airports, move through security as soon as possible to where the duty free is as this is the safest part of an airport. If at the cinema or a concert then know where your emergency exits are so if there is an incident, you can move away from the largest crowd of people which will be the main target of the attack. Or when walking down the street know which shop you would go into to seek refuge.
It's really sad that we have had to change our mindset and way of life, but the next time you are In a restaurant, train station, shopping centre, or walking down the street with your family, ask yourself, what would I do right now if there was a terrorist attack. Remember, REACT, HIDE, BLOCK.
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