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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Terror Attacks

In response to April 15th/ Tax Day/ Boston Marathon/ Patriot's Day Bombing this year, I thought I'd touch on how to avoid getting into a terror situation to begin with, and what to do after.

There are nine types of terrorist attacks- Bombings, Arson, Sky Jacking, Hijacking, Maiming, Assassination, Riot, Kidnapping, and Hostage Taking.  You can fall victim to one of these at any time because no amount of caution can keep you safe from a coward that is set on hurting people.  Especially one that is also intent on killing himself in the process.  We as human beings tend to subconsciously believe that all people are inherently good.  This is what makes terror attacks so successful.

The first thing that you need to do is be prepared.  Have your Everyday Pack with you.  Also, have your weapon if you can carry lawfully... or carry it unlawfully, but have a weapon.  I do not advocate breaking the law, but I recognize that some people still carry without a permit for personal reasons.  If you are one of those guys, just be ready to take your lumps when they come.  I would however like to point out that it doesn't have to be a conventional weapon that a permit is required for in the first place.  Cold Steel makes some really nice walking sticks!

Now that you are prepared for your day and you are heading out, you should have a terrorist attack pep talk with yourself.  You need to realize that you can only be so careful and prepared.  Nobody can remove all the risk from every day and from every activity.  Bad guys are going to do bad things sometimes.  You should just acknowledge this simple fact and your day will be much less stressful.  Once you close the door behind you and head out to face reality, you need to look like you are ready to conquer the world and eat babies.  Your body language is the most significant deterring factor you will ever possess.  When you look like a hard target, one that will put up a hard fight, the bad guys will find another target.  A soft target.  Don't be soft, be hard!

There are few things you can do to help prevent your becoming involved in someone else's terror plot.  The primary two are to stay moving and to be alert to your surroundings.  It is extraordinarily difficult to hit a moving target.  This includes terrorist attacks.  It is hard for someone to attempt to kidnap you, or maim you, or assassinate you if you are in constant motion.  If you are stopped in a large crowd watching the finish at a race, you are a sitting duck. The next thing to the be vigilant.  Watch for anything strange or out of the ordinary for whatever location you happen to be in.  A truck driver parking his rig in front of a Best Western is pretty normal.  A truck driver parking his rig in front of a five star hotel housing the UN delegates   Not so much.  Same goes for people going into locations.  A pizza guy going into a hotel, normal.  A pizza guy going into a movie theater, strange.  Either of these should send you into condition red.

The next thing that you have to deal with is stopping in public.  Constant motion is great... if you are a shark. People have to stop and eat and what-not.  When you stop to eat, evaluate your surroundings.  Take note of the two closest exits, and obstacles that you may encounter getting to then.  (What's worse, having to explain why you ran out through the kitchen and had to come back around to the front door to pay the tab, or blowing up because you sat there ten seconds to long?)  Also take note of where the most likely entrance for trouble is.  Try to position yourself away from the entrance, and as close to an alternative exit as possible.  Also be out of the center of the room with the door to your front.  The old "back to the wall trick" still works hundreds of years later!

Occasionally, you will find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being stopped in a large sitting duck type crowd.  This doesn't have to mean standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  This could be at the Justin Beaver concert with your kid.  It could be stopped in rush hour traffic in downtown Houston, Texas.  How about the local air show?  Any stopped crowd is a sitting duck, and a sitting duck is a terrorist's wet dream; especially if it happens to occupy a "Gun Free Zone" where he knows he will encounter very little resistance if any.  Try to avoid being a sitting duck.

Be aware that while we like to believe that terrorists are dumb, they are not.  They understand crowd dynamics and they know how to get the best bang for their buck... hardee har har.  If you are ever in a situation such as the Boston attack, be aware of what direction the crowd is going.  You should take a lateral route 90 degrees to the direction they are coming from and the way they are going.  An experienced or a studied terrorists will set up secondary devices (such as the second plane into the Trade Center or the second bomb in Boston) to catch a larger portion of the crowd.

Speaking of crowd dynamics, think of the Boston bombings.  Knowing the crowd would be gathered at the finish line he set his first smaller improvised explosive device just away from the line so that when it went off it would drive the crowd to other way.  He set his second larger device down the block and had enough delay to allow the crowd to get there and jam up with the crowd trying to figure out what happened back down the block.  It was also in the area far enough away from the original so that people fleeing would begin to think they were now in the safe zone and would stop running.  In any situation, the presents of a secondary device is definitive proof that you are in a terrorist attack.

After the Attack

Being a hero is fine if that's the way you want to go out.  Get caught by the secondary device and you are just another dead statistic.  Situation dictates.  If you want to see your family and friends again the best advice ever is unass the area.

First thing is to develop a plan of escape.  Just like when taking pictures the old fashioned way, your previously established plan for every situation is just the film.  It needs to be developed into a picture to get the end result.  Apply the new situation to your existing plan and see what develops.  Then follow that plan but be ready to adapt when a new situation arises.  Then you have to develop a new picture, and start following the new plan.

One of the very primary things is to understand where you are in relation to where you want to be.  Know that people in a panic run in a herd away from the event.  If you must go the way they are coming from, you will have to go around them.  Do not try to run against the herd, or across the flow of the herd.  You will die.  You will get knocked down and trampled to death.  Think it can't happen?  Watch some Walmart coverage on November 26th this year... happens every year.  If you have to cross a moving herd, just like crossing a raging river, you do not fight the flow.  Go with the flow... and slowly work your way across the current to the far side.  Once out of the herd, be hyper vigilant and work your way to your destination.

Also take into account hazardous environments that may be impeding your progress to safety.  Remember that some gasses float and some gasses sink.  If you run into an invisible and odorless cloud of deadly gas that is heavier than air because you went down into the ditch to avoid a herd, you will just become another victim.  Always stay out of the downwind and low lying areas.  Also, just like in JAWS, don't go into the water.  It may not be water flowing down the street at all.  That may be gasoline.  Speeding cars need to be watched closely.  People totally forget the rules of the road during situations such as these and become potential hazards.  Downed electrical wire are another potential hazard you need to watch out for.  Falling debris is yet another.  Hazardous environments come in many fashions.

Travel Abroad

If you must travel or feel compelled to travel abroad there are a few extra things to do to be safer than your average bear.  One thing you want to do regardless is to have photocopies of all your legal documents and a stash of cash that are not on your person.  If you are accosted and the bad guys take all your dinero and travel docs with them, you are in for a severe headache.  That's just basic stuff there though.  To become less of a target in foreign countries you need to follow certain suggestions.

First, before you even leave for your trip, check the current travel warnings for where you are going, and also check the ones for any country to have to land in or drive through to get there.  Next, you want to keep a low profile.  I admire patriotism at all times.  That doesn't mean I advertise it by wearing a big ass flag on my shirt while visiting Azerbaijan !  You want to blend in.  If all the men in said country are wearing white linen shirts, Panama Jack hats, and gold rimmed aviator sunglasses, guess what you should be wearing?  You got it!  Even if you are at the Olympics and everyone is wearing a flag on their shirt, do you really want to help the bad guy identify you as a target?  Also remember that a good rule of thumb is business casual.  Most every other country in the world dresses more conservative than the U.S. and a tee-shirt with Zac Brown on it will trip flags every time.

Last.... have a backup plan for any plan.



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