"Things Need To Change"

The barbaric and godless agents of Jihad brought murder and mayhem to our Capital's streets again last night. As the texts came through to the dinner party I was at everyone’s thoughts were immediately with our kids, family and friends living in London. At some point most of us have walked across London Bridge, most of us have had a drink in Borough Market. As the days pass, many of us will be not many degrees of separation from people who were there or have been killed or injured. Again, we were lucky that the attack was close to major trauma hospitals and the Met were simply outstanding in dropping the terrorists within 8 minutes of the first 999 call. The attack could have been worse, and it again it may prove to be the case when the full details are released that we were lucky in that the full horror of what was planned was not executed to it’s fullest potential extent. 

It was encouraging to hear Theresa May say this morning that, "We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change….” Is this perhaps the “moment of collective recognition,’ to which I previously referred when as a nation we get serious about the Islamist threat rather than leaving it to for the police and security services to deal with and hope we will be okay? I hope so. Action on a broader more public perspective is overdue and the blame lies mostly on the shoulders of politicians across the spectrum who have refused to engage and debate the problem of extremism. Some of these politicians should take these mass murders as a reality check and confront some of their past decisions and their bovine intransigence exhibited when matters of individual liberty are in conflict with the safety and well being of society as a whole. Are you listening Nick Clegg and the rest of the cloth-eared Guardian reading muppets who put their arrogant ill-thought out high-mindedness before good ordinary common sense? We are not in a school debate; we are effectively, at war.

Maajid Nawaz talks to Fox News about Islamist extremism and the bigotry of low expectations. In the discussion, Maajid also argues a case for why his fellow liberals should stop saying this has nothing to do with Islam.

To that end, there are one or two immediate steps the government of the day, (whoever that might be from Thursday), can take to offer the public reassurance and I am sure that the Home Office is working on tweaking things like the Prevent policy as I write. A good place to start would be to listen to what some Muslims are suggesting. As obvious as it might sound, half of Westminster has been listening to the wrong, mostly self appointed, ‘leaders of the Muslim community,' and the other half haven’t been listening to anybody. Some, like former Islamist Majeed Nawaz have however good and logical advice to offer. We must listen and act.

For what it is worth, I think it would be a comfort to the wounded from all terrorist attacks to be told, “you are innocent casualties of war. As such you will be entitled to the full support of the State. If you choose to do so, you may elect to be fast tracked in your treatment and rehabilitation onto the military system. You will have access to the full range of medical services, doctors, mental health specialists and rehabilitation centres as you require them and you will enjoy priority access to those services for your lifetime. You will be eligible for full financial support and enhanced disability pensions with immediate effect and for the rest of your life.” Military medical services have not always been what they might have been but by the end of the Afghan engagement they were pretty slick and the work done at Headley Court, (soon to move to Stanford Hall in the Midlands), and Help for Heroes Tedworth House and Phoenix House Recovery centres provides an awesome state of the art rehab package. Moreover, any military charities who wish to offer support will be given exemption by the Charities Commission so to do. Such actions might seem trivial and disingenuous to someone lying in a hospital bed after multiple operations but in time, it might be seen as a meaningful gesture and would be well received in the country. It would also, as a statement of intent, send a message to all and help enfranchise the population in our purpose which is to defeat the terrorist.

The attack last night showed the kind of coordinated planning which was always likely to evolve from past attacks. There will be more. The suddenness, shock and brutality didn’t end last evening. The knife / machete /sword attack is much favoured by Islamists with multiple examples in the Middle East, China, the USA, Canada and Germany. Indeed, the campaign in Israel has been termed the ‘knife Intifada,’ by Hamas. Sharp blade attacks are bloody and they are terrifying. In so much as the ordinary decent citizen may be in a position to defend themselves, lets look at some elementary principles which may have value in a survival situation.

As with most incidents the citizen should be aware of the attack planning cycle, (described in this 2014 post).  Terrorist attacks incidentally are rarely spontaneous. They usually go through a distinct six stage attack cycle which includes planning and reconnaissance. Appropriate awareness of your environment can help citizens spot terrorist surveillance with things or people that are out of place, suspicious and which may represent a threat. This also represents an obvious vulnerability to the terrorist. Whilst a knife attack may be an attack of opportunity rather than one that has been planned, reconnoitred and rehearsed, there may nonetheless be ‘tells,’ that suggest someone is acting suspiciously and may be about to launch an attack. Look for unusual or erratic behaviour that is out of place. If unusual posture, tenseness, a fixed stare, agitated or nervous behaviour, perspiration or actions that suggest the person may be ‘high,’ on something then lift your ‘situational awareness,’ to your highest state of alertness.

For a knife to hurt you you must be within arms length of the bad guy. The sooner you anticipate trouble coming the sooner you can put distance between yourself and the assailant or prepare to defend yourself. As I describe in the previous post, while the art of ‘ situational awareness,’ is easily learned and practiced few people bother. Why indeed should they have needed to for most of their lives? For most it is just something one does when in unfamiliar environments or, for example, at night in a badly lit street. Staying ‘ switched-on,’ though is simple, costs nothing and could save your life. Do not for example, wear headphones when out and about. You just won’t hear the bad guy coming. Obviously, the victims of last nights attack had no warning but the next attack may differ in its methodology. 

The best defence against a sharp blade attack is to stay out of range. Always run not fight if you are able. For lethality, the assailant must get to within 3-5 feet of you. If you are cornered with no exit, prepare to fight and fight hard as some very brave individuals, including a police officer, did last evening. Throwing any objects to hand at the assailant may buy you priceless seconds or indeed deter the attacker. Bar stools, chairs, tables in fact anything that can keep space between you and the assailant should be used, as indeed they have been in a number of well publicised attacks elsewhere. Self defence training is obviously a help. Most though will not have that training and will be scared. Easier said than done but if you can keep your head and commit then your life chances increase from zero to possible. In such an attack you are most likely to be cut, slashed or stabbed. It is critical that you do not lose the will to fight and survive at the first sight of blood. In a frenzy, the cuts are not likely to be fatal. Giving up is. If the emergency services get you to hospital alive you will most likely live. 

LB4.png

If the bad guy has closed in on you do not attempt to grab the knife or machete. The grievous resulting wounds will likely incapacitate you. It is vital to get control of the assailants knife hand or arm. You may consider that getting right up close and personal, inside the arc of the arm, is safer than being at the tip of his weapon and opens up your options in using your heels, head and teeth. Remember, your aim is to survive and buy time until people can come to your aid. 

Citizen Aid App

Citizen Aid App

If you are cut or are with wounded souls then providing the attacker has left, apply first aid. Remember, the amount of blood is not correlated to the seriousness of the injury. It will very likely look much worse than it is. Most bleeding can be stopped with the application of pressure and elevation. An arterial wound, (spurting), must be treated immediately. A friend of mine died in just a few minutes from a small wound to the femoral artery after a bomb blast. Act and act fast. Learn how to make and apply an improvised tourniquet. Attending a first aid course is a good idea but at the minimum, please consider downloading the Citizen Aid app which contains advice on life saving first aid and is written by military and civilian trauma specialists.

In summary, nothing in life can prepare you for a frenzied knife attack. To do nothing is to die. If you can buy time, just seconds, it may save your life. The earlier you identify a threat the more time you will have; practice situation awareness. Be curious, be aware and trust your feelings. The most valuable thing you have, as any survival instructor will tell you, is the will to live. Have that and have it in spades and never, ever, ever give up.

Citizen Aid

I have written previously about the importance for the ordinary citizen going about their daily lives to maintain an appropriate level of  situational awareness  Most of us anyway do that without thinking. Driving though a country village, down a suburban residential street, when using an ATM or when a train is approaching a station platform, our awareness becomes elevated then drops when the road widens out, when we have our money or when we have boarded the train. From that point it is an easy jump for the average person to train themselves to lift and soften their 'situational awareness,' as the environment demands and to do so automatically. This is a good step forward in staying safe. 

Sometimes though, bad things just happen. How we react will depend on many, many factors and we can never ever know how we will respond under pressure until we are there, in the moment as it were. 

It is a good plan if moving as a family, or a couple, to have an emergency rendezvous point. That is, 'if we're separated for any reason, lets meet at that junction.' Not to complicate things too much but having a 2nd RV is also good thinking. That is, 'if for any reason we can't make the RV at the junction in the first hour, move to the 2nd RV,' (which should be a good distance back from the first, if not some miles). 

If, God forbid, you find yourself close to an incident, or involved in one, what then? 

If you are with family, your responsibility is clear; get them to safety. The choices here are not easy and are mostly down to individual decision making and despite what anyone may say, luck. Personally, I would avoid going underground in cities like London, I would avoid obvious exit points or public transport hubs like stations. I would avoid likely points for secondary explosions which for example, might be nearby supermarket car parks or similar spaces where the terrorist might make a reasonable assumption that the emergency services might place their incident control centres there. I would be wary of law enforcement or security officers on the ground, who will know not much more about the bigger picture than do you, blindly directing crowds to obvious meeting points. Beware falling glass from modern high rise buildings, (which will persist long after any explosion), and beware panicking citizens behind you.  

Senior British military & civilian medics, who created the app, are concerned that people caught up in terror attacks may not know how to respond in the immediate aftermath - when every second counts.  

What though, if you are caught in the midst of things. This is when you wish you had stayed at home to do some ironing while watching Question Time. But you didn't and no one has taught or trained you in what to do. First, stay safe. As I have previously described, there may be a secondary danger with, for example, a live shooter following a detonation of a loud bangy thing. When you are confident the threat has passed or been neutralised your duty is clear. Help the wounded. Easier said than done I know but help is at hand.

A group of civilian and military doctors have just released an App called Citizen Aid. It is a basic Go-To aide memoir for life saving first aid and it is written specifically for the bad situations we have discussed and aims to prevent avoidable deaths by informing us of life saving actions to take with casualties before the professionals appear. Think of it as St Johns first aid ++. 

Sir Keith Porter, professor of clinical traumatology at the University of Birmingham, is one of four clinicians behind the initiative.

He said: ‘I have treated hundreds of soldiers whose lives have been saved by the simple applications of tourniquets when they have been shot or blown up. Teaching individual soldiers these skills has saved lives. I think it is essential we train the public in those skills and that is exactly what CitizenAID does.’

Do please consider downloading the free App and of course, share the knowledge. It could save lives.

 

Stay Safe (2)

The rolling Mandelification of Martin McGuiness, a man directly responsible for at least 200 murders, came to a juddering halt with the attack at Westminster on Wednesday by Khalid Masood. In my day it was bombs and bullets, now it's a kitchen knife and bad driving. There isn't much to cling to in the 'it could have been worse,' department when we have dead and wounded in double figures but actually, it could have been. The weather in London was pretty damp on Wednesday and the bridge could have been very much more crowded with tourists as is usually the case. That the terrorist attacked the most heavily armed part of London is also a bonus. I don't need to articulate the alternatives.

The attack came as a surprise to no one. Well, no one except the BBC who fail to understand that while the deaths are a tragedy for those concerned, in the minds of the perpetrators the BBC's blanket coverage completely justifies their actions. An absence of detached proportionality is unhelpful in the defence of the public and the sight and sound of multiple reporters maximising their air-time and seemingly vying for reporter-of-the-year award has been somewhat distasteful. I suppose that is what we get with the monster that is 24 hour news.

Then, the well-practised government machine rumbled into view and I was reassured to see the Acting Deputy Commissioner on the steps of New Scotland Yard telling us that there is no cause for alarm. In doing so he was echoing the words of the old head of the Anti Terrorist Squad, Commander Churchill-Coleman who always used to say, 'there is no cause for alarm,’ usually as he was standing in front of half a London postcode that had recently been removed from the map by a PIRA bomb. As is normal routine, this was followed by the Prime Minister giving us her ‘we will not allow our way of life to be changed by the terrorists.’ That is what Prime Ministers do. Then, the Mayor of London told us that Londoners will carry on as usual. Let me tell you son, Londoners don’t have a choice. 

Police Officer and fellow ex Gunner Keith Palmer; murdered.

Police Officer and fellow ex Gunner Keith Palmer; murdered.

The truth is, the people offering us the free advice to not be alarmed and not to worry will very much have their own lives changed with elevated personal security. Another truth is that there are some very bad people out there who, given the opportunity, will happily ruin your day with the maximum violence on the maximum number of people they can bring to bear. The threat manifests itself in many different ways. Earlier in the week the Met warned financial institutions that following  the delivery of two explosive packages to European financial institutions another intended for a British financial institution was intercepted. The mantra from the Met is ‘be alert, not alarmed.’ This brings us to the subject which I have covered many times before of ‘situational awareness.’ Here is a reminder with a piece I wrote in April last year after the Brussels airport incident,

It is an unfortunate fact that a terrorist attack in the UK is inevitable. While our security and intelligence services do good work in keeping us safe, as the Provisionals used say, 'we only have to be lucky once.' 

The attack may come in various shapes and forms from a random and impulsive ‘lone wolf’ attack to organised and coordinated attacks on multiple targets. Moreover, the threat is constantly evolving. We can expect constant improvisation and innovation from the terrorist in both method and design. Technical advances, miniaturisation and advances in chemical engineering among others will all eventually be reflected in the terrorists arsenal. 

While the probability of being caught up in any of these incidents is remote, advice for innocents caught up in incidents, and the ensuing melee’, is sparse. Jihadists present a fractured and complex threat across the European mainland, holiday destinations and within the UK. They are committed, in many cases well trained and as evidenced in the Brussels attack, they have a good bomb-maker. The tradecraft of the Brussels attackers though was sloppy and unrefined reflecting the fact that the terror threat doesn’t come in a neat, one profile package. Here then are my thoughts on different scenarios

COL. JEFF COOPER WAS A LEGEND IN THE US SHOOTING AND SELF-DEFENCE WORLD. IN ADDITION TO BEING INSTRUMENTAL IN REFININGAND POPULARISING MANY MODERN PISTOL AND SELF-DEFENCE TECHNIQUES HE BELIEVED, IMPORTANTLY, THAT THE MIND WAS THE BEST SURVIVAL TOOL.

COL. JEFF COOPER WAS A LEGEND IN THE US SHOOTING AND SELF-DEFENCE WORLD. IN ADDITION TO BEING INSTRUMENTAL IN REFININGAND POPULARISING MANY MODERN PISTOL AND SELF-DEFENCE TECHNIQUES HE BELIEVED, IMPORTANTLY, THAT THE MIND WAS THE BEST SURVIVAL TOOL.

Bang!

For individuals caught up in an incident the reason why will matter least. The instinct of survival should have primacy but that is often not the case. Most citizens take a ‘well, if it’s got my name on it…’ fatalistic approach to the prospect of a bad thing happening. They feel events are anyway beyond their control and there is little one person can do. Moreover, in the aftermath of an incident, especially one involving an IED, people are disorientated and shocked leaving many unable to grasp what has happened, far less grip their own vulnerability and seek a route to hiding or safety. This is true of trained individuals and ordinary folk. Bombs are violent, bloody and indiscriminate instruments of war. They create fear through destruction and after the short silence, mayhem ensues. There are however, steps that the ordinary decent public can take to mitigate some of the risk. In the first instance, much depends on luck. There isn’t much anyone can do if you are standing a few metres away from the seat of an explosion but let’s take things one step at a time and look at how we can employ our own situational awareness to increase our chance of survival before, during and after an incident.

Don’t Be A Victim

Taking the fatalistic approach to life may seem to fulfil what is expected of ourselves as Britons displaying a 'business as usual,' phlegmatic approach to life. Indeed, various governments play the same record after every incident, ’This will not change our way of life.’ Well, mine changed as soon as the Provisionals started bombing the Mainland back in the Seventies.. Having the right mindset is critical. Denial, ignorance and complacency are no defence against nail packed semtex packages. Acceptance of the threat is the first step in not becoming a victim. Don't live in a bubble.

Most people exercise situation awareness whether they recognise it as a valuable tool or not. Walking down a dark street at night for example will inevitably create a state of heightened sensory awareness of everything around. While we can’t replicate that same heightened state of awareness throughout the day, (it would simply be exhausting), there is a reasonable medium whereby you are alert to your surroundings. US law enforcement frequently use a system called Coopers colours to describe the five common levels of situational awareness. For ‘awareness,’ read ‘alertness.’

In condition White you are relaxed, tuned out and unaware of events around you. Unaware equals unprepared. The kind of constant vegetative state that many urban dwellers seek refuge in; hood up, plugged in to music, eyes down. People who are 100% dependent on luck for survival; people happy to become statistics, in an ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that this is happening to me,’ way.

In condition Yellow you are relaxed but aware of what is around you. You are paying attention to activities and sounds around you. You will be in a state where you will not be completely surprised and will be taking normal precautions. You may be running ‘what if,’ scenarios in your mind and have pre planned exits in mind. (This is a dynamic process. For example, when driving down a suburban residential street you probably already say to yourself, ‘the car in front may turn right,’ or 'that child ahead may run into the road,’ and be prepared to brake. That is typical of condition Yellow action). This is the minimum mindset everyone should adopt, especially when in unfamiliar surroundings, in crowds or when with people not known to you.

In condition Orange you are more focused and may have identified a potential threat. Someone following you, for example an unruly bunch of NEDS approaching or something more sinister. If a bad thing happens in condition Orange you should be expecting it and not be surprised. You will have a definite plan of action and escape routes in mind. The driving analogy here might be driving in icy or foggy conditions when you are totally focused and ignore any distractions outside keeping the car safely on the road.

In condition Red the threat identified in Orange becomes real and triggers action, be it flight, fight or hide.

There are some points to note about these different levels of situational awareness. The first is that people cannot operate in a heightened state of alertness for prolonged periods. It is tiring and induces stress which is unhealthy. People should simply practice being in a constant state of relaxed awareness and be prepared to elevate that alertness for brief periods as required. Adopting a minimum level of awareness will anyway, lead to the avoidance of many situations that could otherwise escalate. This process is simply introducing some rigour into what will come naturally to most people anyway but usually in situations they are already familiar with such as driving, watching young toddlers play, using an ATM and even Christmas shopping. You can practice your situational awareness skills easily and at will. Examples include checking exits whenever you walk into buildings, always leaving a gap between you and the car in front when in waiting traffic, watching vehicles in your rear view mirror to see if any are taking the same turns and start people watching. Look at people and work out where they might be from, their education, distinguishing marks, what kind of mood they are in, what their life story is. Observation can be practiced and honed until it becomes intuitive. The British excel at this game. Note our obsession with shoes from which we can derive a massive amount of instinctive background information. This process of seeing, and interpreting, rather than just looking soon embeds itself into the subconscious and becomes part of one’s natural state.

Understand Your Environment

Clearly, you are more vulnerable to attack either individually or as part of a crowd in some environments than in others. Travel to many countries necessitates a heightened state of awareness as indeed a visit to a major attraction in London does when compared to a visit to a village flower show. On a micro level however alertness can often prevent a bad thing happening or increase the observer’s probability of survival if it does. Criminals and terrorists have a significant advantage because they have surprise. That advantage is magnified if the victims freeze rather than react. The bad people though will often plan and reconnoiter their attack. Suspicious activity makes the terrorist vulnerable and they are not very good at camouflaging their behaviour when either marking potential targets or in the run up to an attack. They will be edgy and their adrenaline will be pumping. This is why some take drugs before an attack to dampen the natural response of their bodies to stress. Many adopt an intense stare before an attack. Wearing unseasonal clothing, suspicious bulges under the clothes, unnatural perspiration, avoiding eye contact, mumbling and fidgeting, using hand signals with other perhaps unsighted individuals are all give away signs. A citizen identifying out of character suspicious behaviour will tend not to want to make a fuss. Make a fuss. Better to suffer the embarrassment of a false alarm than to be a quadriplegic for life

As a young soldier I recall attending a lecture and demonstration of let’s call them ‘sneaky IED’s.’ These would be devices hidden in lamp posts, telephone boxes, gate posts, window boxes and so on. I asked the instructor, who had entertained us with some very impressive bangs, how we might know if one lamp post out of the hundreds we walked past on patrol in Belfast every day might have an IED inside it. He said, ‘the hairs on the back of your neck will stand up.’ What did he mean? Every day, in going about your normal business, your mind processes everything it sees and hears. It might be in the home, the journey to work, in the workplace or place of leisure, your brain is expecting every detail and matches it to what has gone before. It isn’t something that you consciously think about but sometimes, there might be something out of place. A person, an object or things happening in the wrong sequence and while it may not trigger a conscious thought or response you get, ‘a feeling.’ That ‘something isn’t quite right,’ feeling is the ‘hairs on the back of your neck rising.’ Don’t ever, ever ignore it. It may be something unthreatening, something completely trivial and innocent but something has changed and your mind is warning you that something is different.

Depending on the study, brain scientists tell us that our conscious mind processes 40-126 chunks of information per second. Our unconscious mind, on the other hand, is processing upwards of 12 million chunks of information per second. If you’re consciously trying to continually evaluate your environment for threats in addition to actually engaging in conversation with other people, the conscious mind just doesn’t have the bandwidth to do both well and it puts a considerable amount of stress on the mind.

But, if you give the mind the tools it needs to unconsciously identify and rank dangers and threats it can work in the background while your conscious mind is fully engaged with people around you.

AN INFORMATION FILM, MADE BY THE POLICE, WHICH IS FULL OF GOOD ADVICE AND EXPOUSES THE BRITISH APPROACH OF 'RUN, HIDE, TELL.'

Action!

If a bad thing happens and you are caught up in a terrorist attack the first and obvious thing to do is dart to the nearest cover and quickly ascertain where the threat lies. You must determine where the terrorist or terrorists are less you run blindly into the danger, or killing zone. Gunfire in built up areas for example is notorious for being difficult to pinpoint because of the echoing around buildings. 

Shooter

If the attack is a live shooter or shooters do not panic or give up. You have a good chance of escape to safety if you keep your head. Knowledge dispels fear. Here is the knowledge. 

In most cases active shooters are not well trained and as explained earlier, will be 'pumped up,' with adrenaline flowing and very possibly, under some kind of intoxication. Most casualties are shot at close range. Our aim is obviously to increase that range. Using the acronym MDACC which represents, Motion, Distance, Angle, Cover & Concealment we have all we need to exponentially increase our survival rate. Forget everything you have seen in movies. It is very difficult to hit a moving target, even for trained soldiers and law enforcement professionals. The average target presented to soldiers in Northern Ireland was a moving target with a 3 second exposure. Very few such targets were hit. 

Most tactical shootings happen at distances of less than seven meters. Few people can consistently hit a stationary target beyond 25 meters with a handgun, much less a moving target. Most people can put 25 meters between themselves and an attacker in just a few seconds, so motion and distance improve a target's chances of escape. Think and move. If in doubt, seek sanctuary, secure it and protect yourself as best you are able. Then, prepare to fight.

CONVERSATION ON ACTIVE SHOOTER SCENARIO FROM STRATFOR.

The angle at which a target runs away is also important because shooting a target that is moving straight away is easier than shooting a target running away at an angle, since the second scenario would require the shooter to swing the barrel of the weapon and lead the target, a difficult task even for an experienced marksman. Both require practice, even with a rifle or shotgun. If the target can run at an angle behind objects like trees, cars, office furniture or walls that obstruct the shooter's view of the target (concealment) or stop bullets (cover), that is even more effective. Think and run.

It is important to distinguish between concealment and cover. Items that provide concealment, such as a bush or tree leaves, can hide a target from the shooter's line of vision but will not protect them from bullets the way a substantial tree trunk will. Likewise, in an office setting, a typical drywall-construction interior wall can provide concealment but not cover, meaning a shooter will still be able to fire through the walls and door. Similarly, a car door or the boot doesn't afford the same protection as does the bonnet with the engine block inside. Still, if the shooter cannot see his or her target, they will be firing blindly rather than aiming their weapon, reducing the probability of hitting a target.

In any case, those hiding inside a room should attempt to find some sort of additional cover, such as a filing cabinet or heavy desk. It is always better to find cover than concealment, but even partial cover,  something that will only deflect or fragment the projectiles, is preferable to no cover at all.

Bomb

Let's not mince our words here; bombs are a bastard. When a device is detonated all hell breaks loose. If you are in line of sight of the device then you are at risk from the shockwave, fragments and debris. Distance is the best defence. The blast from even a small device will be magnified inside a building. There will be a shockwave which will damage everything in its path, (including your internal organs), fire, heat, noise and steel and glass fragments travelling at high velocity. If you are some distance from the explosion and are not medically trained leave the area immediately helping the infirm or children as you are able. Do not loiter to take photographs, make telephone calls or seek comfort from strangers. Avoid obvious meeting points such as squares and precincts and avoid crowds. There may be secondary devices planted at such locations. 

If you are closer to the blast, and survive, switch on. It is easier said than done given you may suddenly be deaf and shaken beyond any previous experience. Live shooters may be on the loose. Seek cover if you are able and remember, you are at risk from falling shards of glass from buildings for a long time after the explosion. 

AMERICAN PUBLIC INFORMATION FILM ON RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. THERE ARE MANY SUCH VIDEO'S AVAILABLE, MOSTLY FROM THE US. HERE IS ANOTHER, THIS TIME FROM LA WHERE I GUESS THEY HAVE HAD PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD.

Wounded

If you are wounded it's not game over. The body will not give up and cease functioning but the mind is likely to. Escape out of the line of fire is doable if you want it to be. As with every survival situation, the will to survive is everything. Most people do freeze and go into shock which allows the shooter the opportunity to let loose with a close range killer shot. When shot apply an improvised pressure bandage using anything to hand to both the entry and exit wound if there is one which won't always be in line with the entry wound. If you are shot and get to a hospital alive you will probably live, such is the excellence of trauma care these days.

Fight

Advice from British law enforcement backs off from fighting the terrorist. Not so in America, as we might expect, where they promulgate the Run, Hide, Fight approach. I favour this. Be under no illusion, if you are cornered and your life is in danger, as a last resort only sudden maximum violence on or at your attacker using any improvised weapons to hand will keep you alive. 

RUN and escape, if possible.

  • If safe to do so, use an accessible path.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible.

HIDE, if escape is not possible.

  • If you are in an office, stay there and lock or barricade the door.
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.
  • Close, cover, and move away from windows.
  • Your hiding place should be out of the shooter's view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
  • Remain quiet with all sources of noise silenced.

FIGHT as an absolute last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger. DO NOT seek out the shooter. 

  • Attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter.
  • Act as aggressively as possible against him/her.
  • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter.
  • Throw items and improvise weapons.
  • Yell.
  • Commit to your actions.

Law Enforcement

Don't expect too much from law enforcement officers arriving on the scene. If caught up in the initial incident they themselves will have adrenaline pumping and may also be shocked. Be wary of first response directions issued under pressure by disorientated officers which may also send you into harms way. When armed officers arrive do exactly what they say. Make no sudden movements and do not approach them in haste or you might get an unwelcome response. They will be extremely keyed up. Mistakes can happen. Avoid shouting, gesturing and pointing and keep your hands where they can be seen. You may be roughly treated by first responding officers. Their priority is to neutralise the threat. They may push you down for your own safety or may treat you as a suspect until otherwise proven. Suck it up and do as you are told. Also, paramedics and doctors arriving will seek out the badly injured first. If they don't come to you think of it as good news. Wait your turn if wounded and rely on self help. They will get to you. After reaching a place of safety identify yourself to the police as a witness. If waiting try to recall the sequence of events and take notes in as much detail as you can remember where possible.

Urban Zombies

There is a modern trend which seems to be almost hard coded in the mind of the urban dweller to reach for a smart phone and either start recording any incident that takes place in his or her vicinity or to telephone a loved one. As an immediate action following an incident both are stupid and both are selfish. 

Taking photographs or footage of injured people, rather than helping them, is callous. It is also dangerous. Current popular tradecraft among Jihadists points to them detonating an IED then switching to a 'live shooter,' attack to kill the confused and disorientated civilians around them, or, they open fire then detonate. Indeed, shots were heard before the Brussels airport devices detonated and what was left of an AK 47 later recovered. 

Survival for those in the midst of the mayhem is absolutely dependant on their will to survive and their ability to quickly gather their wits to a heightened state of situational awareness and take action. Taking pictures or telling your Mum you're OK is all a bit pointless if you are about to take a couple of 7.62mm rounds to the chest. 

For the injured and dying words fail me of how they must feel when fellow travellers start snapping away. If I end up lying on the pavement in Piccadilly with my legs in bits all over Regent Street I'll be more than a little animated if I found myself full frame on someone's iPhone 6s. Perhaps we need a Good Samaritan or Duty to Act law which enshrine a duty of action and legal protection in doing so in law. Unfortunately, in these extreme situations such Act's would not be reasonable given many of the people reaching for their iPhones are doing so while in a state of shock and are themselves reaching out for comfort and security by the only means known to them. iPhones don't stop bullets though. 

Simple actions that could immediately be taken by the Home Office would be to prevent individuals generating money from opportunistic photographs and to heavily fine news agencies that solicit, (often while events are in progress) and pay for such pictures and footage. Perhaps too it is time for the return of the Public Information Film instructing citizens of 'actions to take in the event of a terrorist incident.' The Government does a good job in calming a sense of elevated fear and keeping 'business as usual,' but the hard fact is that it is only a matter of time before the terrorist strikes again on home soil.

Most of all, those Urban Zombies who wander around town with white ears buds stuck in their ears oblivious to all around them and reach for their smart phone when a bad thing happens are likely to discover that its a fast track route to being a dead Urban Zombie.

Summary

No one except the terrorist wants us to swap a normal way of life for paranoia and fear. That however, does not preclude accepting and understanding that risk exists and some simple steps to elevate our personal situational awareness can help mitigate that risk. Adopting the right mindset which is appropriate to your environment and being ready and able to elevate your preparedness and then react vigorously if a situation develops will all contribute to enhanced survivability. Finally, bloody minded determination and aggression will see you through the darkness should you be embroiled in an incident. Do not ever, give up. That's the point when the bastards have won. 

Finally, if it is all too dramatic for you and you had rather not bother my departing advice is move to Glasgow. They've got it taped up there (starts 1:13).
 

Nice; No Simple Answers

The events in Nice last night have triggered another unwanted replay of saturation disaster news coverage and waves of dread pulsing through families and friends with loved ones in the South of France. Anyone who has been to Nice has strolled down the Promenade des Anglais and it is familiar to many across the world. This being the third major terrorist event in eighteen months the French could be forgiven for suffering from emotional exhaustion. France though is a mature democracy with broad shoulders and they will get through the trauma. The tragic fact is however, it is unlikely to be the last such event.

We do not yet know for certain that the Nice attack was perpetrated by an Islamic terrorist. The French Tunisian individual identified as the driver may have been mentally ill, high on drugs or hell bent on revenge for some perceived or actual sleight. Perhaps a combination of two or all of those factors may become apparent. Apart from petty crime the perpetrator had not been flagged as a radical and was unknown to security services.

As we are aware, so called ‘Lone Wolves,’ or ‘Stray Dogs,’ present security forces with very specific difficulties. They are often solitary and withdrawn individuals, frequently without ideological motivation, which makes identification through profiling difficult and clearly infiltration of potential targets, because of their singularity, is a non-starter. Given many are mentally ill they often come to the attention of the police and or health professionals prior to major incidents but that is very large haystack for security professionals to trawl through and monitor in order to identify the very few individuals who may then advance to mass murder.

Much will again be made of solitary attackers in the coming days and the threat will remain persistent. I have discussed them before but have avoided listing specific threats lest I unintentionally present some lunatic with a script. The threat however to the well-being of ordinary decent citizens goes beyond the Lone Wolf because the general terror threat is embedded in the EU.

The proximity of North Africa and Turkey to Europe, centuries of trade and colonialisation and waves of immigrants seeking work, education and advancement over generations has resulted in large numbers of Muslims living in Europe. Although some are fourth or even fifth generation immigrants many have not integrated and live in isolated Muslim dominated communities. For example, Matthew Levitt, the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, noted in a recent Politico article that only eight of the 114 imams in Brussels speak any of Belgium's traditional languages.

The backdrop is not helped by the weak European economy which has impacted the Muslim population disproportionately and while the unemployment rate for young males on the Continent is very high, (ex Germany), the numbers for young Muslims should be a source of alarm. Alienation through economic disenfranchisement and an absence of any kind of mandatory assimilation through benefits-for-work type schemes provide the purveyors of violence rich pickings with which to pollute, twist and control minds. To combat radicalisation all European countries must accept that they must do more than ‘round up the usual suspects,’ and put soldiers on the streets in a show of force after major incidents. They must meet the extreme violence of terror with radical social and economic reengineering in order to drain the pond. Without confronting the worst truths of these societies the outlook will remain at it's bleakest.

The political impact of terrorism in France will gain momentum with an inevitable uplift for the right wing National Front and the centre right Republicans in next April’s elections. Both are critical of Schengen and the demand for greater national control of borders is anyway growing across Europe both because of terrorism and migration. It is also inevitable that the French will reach out for more support in their foreign anti Jihadist operations but are likely to receive a subdued response from other European nations who lack the will, the budgets and the expertise to field expeditionary forces.

They can hope though for renewed efforts in intelligence and information sharing but many countries in Europe are themselves hampered by their own fragmented security and intelligence structures not to mention entrenched privacy laws.

For individuals, the advice remains the same. Forget all that ‘business as usual; our lives will not be affected,’ hogwash from politicians who know no better. We live in an environment of elevated risk from multiple threats and citizens should adopt a poise of situational awareness wherever they are. That doesn’t mean constantly living on edge. It simply means being aware of ones surroundings and events. That is, tune in, never tune out. Always have the basis of an escape and action plan and remember, an air of superior laissez-faire indifference is no defence against 7.62mm rounds and flying glass. You can read more here in Stay Safe.

Brussels & Urban Zombies

1 x injured. 1x cretin on her phone. 1 x cretin taking a photograph.

A week after the Brussels atrocity and we can reflect on a number of aspects of the incident which I'll cover in the next few posts which give cause for concern. 

There is a modern trend which seems to be almost hard coded in the mind of the urban dweller to reach for a smart phone and either start recording any incident that takes place in his or her vicinity or to telephone a loved one. As an immediate action following an incident both are stupid and both are selfish. 

Taking photographs or footage of injured people, rather than helping them, is callous. It is also dangerous. Current popular tradecraft among Jihadists points to them detonating an IED then switching to a 'live shooter,' attack to kill the confused and disorientated civilians around them, or, they open fire then detonate. Indeed, shots were heard before the Brussels devices detonated and what was left of an AK 47 later recovered. 

Survival for those in the midst of the mayhem is absolutely dependant on their will to survive and their ability to quickly gather their wits to a heightened state of situational awareness and take action. Taking pictures or telling your Mum you're OK is all a bit pointless if you are about to take a couple of 7.62mm rounds to the chest. 

For the injured and dying words fail me of how they must feel when fellow travellers start snapping away. If I end up lying on the pavement in Piccadilly with my legs in bits all over another post code I'll be more than a little animated if I found myself full frame on someone's iPhone 6s. Perhaps we need a Good Samaritan or Duty to Act law which enshrine a duty of action and legal protection in doing so in law. Unfortunately, in these extreme situations such Act's would not be reasonable given many of the people reaching for their iPhones are doing so while in a state of shock and are themselves reaching out for comfort and security by the only means known to them. iPhones don't stop bullets though. 

Simple actions that could immediately be taken by the Home Office would be to prevent individuals generating money from opportunistic photographs and to heavily fine news agencies that solicit, (often while events are in progress) and pay for such pictures and footage. Perhaps too it is time for the return of the Public Information Film instructing citizens of 'actions to take in the event of a terrorist incident.' The Government does a good job in calming a sense of elevated fear and keeping 'business as usual,' but the hard fact is that it is only a matter of time before the terrorist strikes again on home soil.


Most of all, those Urban Zombies who wander around town with white ears buds stuck in their ears oblivious to all around them and reach for their smart phone when a bad thing happens are likely to discover that its a fast track route to being a dead Urban Zombie.