The details surrounding the attack centering on Munich’s Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping mall are still being ascertained, but one thing remains certain: The headlines announcing tragic events such as these are becoming all too common. Whether the perpetrators of these events are involved in a terrorist organization or self-radicalized, whether the weapons used are firearms, bombs, edged weapons or vehicles, and whether you are in an airport, a shopping center, outdoor gathering or a nightclub, your chances of surviving such an incident depend on your immediate reactions to the situation.
What should you do if you’re caught in a mass-casualty incident?
Learn from those who have studied these types of incidents in the past. The City of Houston has an excellent video on surviving an active shooter event called “Run. Hide. Fight.” Click HERE to view the video. (These strategies apply regardless of whether or not it’s a shooting event or not.)
- Run! “Get off the X,” as the military folks say. The X is where all the bad stuff is happening. The more you can move away from the incident, the less likely you are to become part of the casualty list. Even if the shooter is shooting at you, a moving target is harder to hit than a stationary target. If you can’t get completely away from the incident, look for a place of cover and concealment. Cover may provide you some protection from bullets and bomb blasts. Concealment just conceals your location but may not provide you protection. Which brings us to our next point…
- Hide! If you can’t run, hide. Get behind a door and lock it. Many shooters won’t waste time with a locked door. Turn out the lights. Silence your cell phone and turn off the vibrate function too. Don’t give away your position.
- Fight! If you can neither run nor hide, or if you’re hiding and you’re discovered, this may be the last day of your life: fight like it. Do anything in your power and use anything at hand – you are fighting for your life at this point. Fight dirty, grab anything you can use as a weapon and don’t stop. An injured person can still pull a trigger, so if you get the upper hand, keep at it and call for help. If you can then get away safely, do so.
Remember to review these tactics with your kids and family members as well. Those behind such events know no boundaries.
Now, let’s address some variables to the situation:
What should you do in such an incident if you are armed?
If you’re armed, we’re assuming you are a citizen and not a law enforcement officer (Cops have their own protocols). I can’t advise you to stay and shoot it out with the bad guy, although I know some of you will. The correct thing to say here is that you need to use your firearm to save your life or another, but you are the one who has to make the decision about how to best do that. There are a million variables here and you’ll need to make a decision that’s best for you and others at the time, given the circumstances. Some will return fire, some will freeze, some will seek cover and only use the gun as a last resort weapon. Regardless, you must keep in mind that responding law enforcement may not know that you’re a good guy (or girl) and not the shooter, and they may not have time to find out before they make a decision about the potential threat that they believe you pose to them.
What should you do if the shooter is wearing a suicide bomber vest?
If the shooter is wearing a suicide vest, the goal is to run; if you can’t run, get to a place of cover and get down. Bomb blasts go upward and outward in most cases, so stay below the belt line; ideally, eat pavement. Get right on the deck. If you have to fight a suicide bomber, you’re well within the bomb’s kill zone, so you are absolutely fighting for your life at this point, but the only other option is to run and hope they don’t detonate until you’re out of the area.
Even if you see how the bomber intends to detonate (i.e. finger on the button and ready to release, or depress), and you neutralize that, it may still not stop a 3rd party confederate who uses a cell phone signal to detonate the device remotely. The Israeli fighting discipline known as Krav Maga has a weblink that has strategies if this is a skill set you’d like to learn.
Ideally, you won’t be in this situation, and despite the headlines, the odds are overwhelming that you never will be. However, 0% of people who have been in such an incident thought that they ever would be. A little forethought, planning and preparation could literally mean the difference between life and death.
To read more of my posts on aviation security, click HERE.