How to Survive a Terrorist Attack
I don’t have to tell you that events such as vehicle ramming and active shooters continue at random around the US and the world.
Lately it seems ramming with vehicles is on the rise, although this has been a jihadist tactic for some time now.
The tactics I will teach you here are the same as those used by SEALs, Rangers, JTF 2, CSOR, SWAT and covert surveillance teams… in fact there are some guys on these teams that haven’t learned them yet.
If you read the news, you’ll see headlines about new terrorist attacks occurring around the world on a nearly daily basis.
No matter how much law enforcement and the government try, they will never be able to stop every attack.
It’s important that YOU are prepared for the eventuality that an attack does manage to get past law enforcement and occur in your proximity.
Below, we’re going to teach you the simple survival skills that will keep you alive in case of a terrorist attack.
While you can’t be prepared for every eventuality (it’s highly unlikely you’ll survive a dirty bomb or suitcase nuclear device), you can learn what you need to in order to be prepared for the types of terrorist attacks you can survive.
Be prepared, and your chances of getting through it alive are much higher!
The #1 Key to Surviving Any Attack: Be Aware
In any document related to survival I have always underlined the need for situational awareness. It is all but completely ignored in our society today.
Situational awareness is one of the most important skills you can develop in order to increase your chance of surviving any attack or potentially dangerous situation.
It is described as, “the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event.”
Basically, it means being aware of what’s going on around you at all times and to make it an even simpler concept to digest… it’s about being “plugged in” to your surroundings.
Easier said than done, given the recent increase in smartphone use, mobile devices, and social media.
It’s incredibly common to see people walking down the street staring at their mobile phone, engaged in a phone conversation, or listening to music.
That distracts two of the most important senses: your sense of sight and sense of sound.
If you’re focused on your smartphone, you’re not going to hear or see what’s going on around you. That increases your risk of being caught unawares in case of an attack.
Valuable seconds will be wasted as your brain registers what’s happening, then you try to sort through the overload of sensory information to decipher the visual and auditory cues. By the time your mind makes sense of it, it may be too late.
Wherever you are, it’s important that you practice situational awareness.
Look around you, take note of the people passing by, and try to spot anything out of the ordinary or out of place.
This is especially true in “soft target areas”, public places (plaza, coffee shop, restaurant, school, mall, etc.) which are considered target rich environments because there are a lot of people vulnerable to attack.
In these areas, it’s imperative that you are aware of everything that’s going on around you.
If you don’t want to watch the video, keep reading on exactly how you can improve your awareness.
Know where the exits are.
Listen, if you remember two simple things from reading this, it’s these acronyms. POE and POEx. This stands for Point of Entry and Point of Exit. Just having that information and constantly assessing where you are in relation to these points in a public area will put you above 99% of people and increase your ability to survive a terrorist attack.
There will always be escape routes from any public place—the more the merrier! Know where the exits are at all times; it will help you know which way to run to find safety. Try to find an exit in at least three different directions. More exits give you more options depending on where the attack is coming from.
If inside a building, make sure to know where the nearest emergency exit and fire escape are. You may need to sprint downstairs to get away from a terrorist attack.
Next I want to discuss cover and concealment. These are very different concepts you need to understand.
Know where to find cover. Ignore any concealment or shelter made of plywood, drywall, glass, or plastic, but look for sturdy hardwood, concrete, steel, or stone objects to hide behind.
Concealment is a location that only offers protection from an assailant’s view. It does not offer any ballistic protection. Thin walls, hollow doors etc are not considered cover.
Cover on the other hand typically has some ballistic protection. Materials such as concrete, thick metal and very thick wood can provide cover and should be your first priority.
If you’re going to take cover behind a vehicle, make sure to hide behind the wheels, not the body of the vehicle. The best location is behind the front wheels because of the fact the engine block also provides cover.
Always know where the nearest cover or concealment is—you may need to rush there to get safe. You’ll want to find multiple types of cover or concealment, as that will give you options depending on the angle of attack. Find at least four safe places anywhere you are.
Look for outliers. Keep an eye out for people looking out of place, acting strangely, or making suspicious gestures. Pay close attention to them to see what they do—you may be able to spot an attack before it takes place. Things such as walking but one or both arms are not swinging because under their coat they are concealing a long gun. Moving at odd angles to a large crowd that might be vulnerable. These kinds of activities can heighten your senses.
Trust your gut. If your instinct is to find safety, LISTEN! Even if nothing happens, you will be safe. Better to listen to those instincts than be caught unaware in case of an attack.
Be wary of crowds. Crowds can box you in, preventing you from reaching an escape route or finding cover or concealment. They can also conceal the attackers themselves. If at all possible, avoid any places that are very crowded. If unavoidable, go around the edges of the crowd rather than cutting straight through.
When in a crowd, look for outliers: people who aren’t acting like the rest of the shoppers, people wearing heavy clothing out of season, people with large backpacks or bags, or people who might be concealing a weapon.
Vehicle Ramming Attack
Vehicle ramming attacks have been much more commonplace in Europe, but some have occurred on U.S. soil as well. Essentially, a terrorist uses a vehicle as their weapon, driving it into crowded areas in order to do as much damage as possible.
The problem with these attacks is that they’re nearly impossible for law enforcement to prevent. With bombs, there is a chemical signature that can be tracked, or nuclear devices can be sniffed out using modern technology. However, there is nothing to indicate that a common vehicle will be turned into a weapon until the moment it happens.
Vehicle ramming attacks can inflict mass casualties, but it’s possible to survive this type of attack.
Step 1: Practice situational awareness. Use the tips in the previous section to help you be aware of your surroundings at all times. Know which way to run in case of a vehicle attack, know where to find shelter, and look for any vehicles that seem out of place.
Most vehicle attackers will use larger, heavier vehicles—garbage trucks, semi-trailers, even ambulances and passenger vans—because the larger size and weight gives them more power to inflict harm. If there are any vehicles that seem to be driving erratically or in the wrong place, be aware of them.
Step 2: Execute the escape plan. If anything seems out of place, use one of your escape routes or find cover or concealment out of the path of the oncoming vehicle. The truth is that a vehicle really only has one way to attack: forward. If you can get to either side or behind the vehicle, you should be safe. Even if you only find cover off to one side, out of the vehicle’s path, there is a much lower risk of your being caught in the attack.
Step 3: Raise an alarm. As you’re moving toward safety, let other people know your suspicions and, if necessary, raise an alarm. Warn as many people of danger as possible to reduce casualties.
I have trained hundreds of LE Officers in Active Shooter tactics as well as assisting civilian institutions with creating various plans for response. These types of occurrences are very difficult to predict.
The key for an armed response is to be aggressive, however it is not the same if you are an unarmed innocent bystander.
Listen, we know guns are incredibly easy to purchase in the United States and Canada with a few differences between the two nations.
However the acquisition or possession of a gun does not lead to an active shooter. Various weapon configurations might make it easier to create more casualties but again, it’s not the gun… it’s the mind of the user that is broken.
Governments make efforts to reduce the availability of guns and certainly they have tried to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on guns, sadly there are more than enough illegal firearms available in literally every city around the country that terrorists are able to purchase guns aplenty.
Ammunition is even easier to buy, even without a firearms license in many states.
An active shooter is the ongoing and active killing or causing of grievous bodily harm in a target rich environment which is not contained.
Most active shooter attacks take place in public locations, and the shooter’s goal is usually to inflict mass casualties in order to make a bold statement. The shooter will usually not be focused on hitting specific people (you), so your chance of survival is much higher than with a bomb or improvised explosive device.
It’s imperative that you are prepared to act in case of an active shooter attack. Not only will you have a higher chance of survival, but you may be able to help other people survive as well!
Step 1: Practice situational awareness. Know where the attack is most likely to come from—a high vantage point with clear lines of sight/fire—and where the best escape routes and cover/concealment is. Be prepared to react quickly in case of any situation where there is an active shooter.
Step 2: Execute the escape plan. If you sense anything out of place, get to safety. Locate the source of the threat or threats, and get into cover or concealment, or simply evacuate the soft target zone. Fighting may be your first instinct, but flight will often be the safest choice for you.
Step 3: Raise an alarm. Report the suspected threat to the nearest security personnel or police officer. If an active shooter is already firing on the crowd, try to get people to safety without exposing yourself to risk. Your safety and that of your family is your first priority!
You can’t be prepared for everything, but it’s important to be as prepared for any situation as possible. The information above will help you to train your mind and body to be on the alert to react in case of these attacks.
A really good resource I highly recommend for these types of situations is our Alpha Survival Guide and the Seal Survival Guide which you can see here