Personal Preparedness Points on Active Aggressor Scenarios

It has been 4 months after the bombing attack a the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester England. This weekend we witnessed a mass shooting on a country music festival in Las Vegas that so far has a count of 59 fatalities and 550+ injured. The world owes a debt of gratitude to the first responders on scene for ensuring that this scenario was not worse, their efforts and the trauma that they experience on account of such events should be noted.

I would like to speak to the general population about things they can do in the event that they ever end up in such a scenario, all the while praying that their preparedness never becomes of real use to them.

During a crisis scenario the primary aggressor is one of 3 major threats you face, the other two are the crowd around you and their reaction, the last is yourself and your ability to react appropriately and keep you(rs) safe.

1) Panic does not serve your survival. There aren't many ways that you can consciously control your reaction (inoculate) aside from:

  • Experiencing the panic stimulating stimulus a number of times, which would obviously involve facing peril and is not ideal
  • Visualising the experience with as much detail & honesty, and as little "hollywood" wood as possible. You are not a hero, don't try to visualise yourself as one. Your concern is you and your hive, that being said keep in mind that it is also your job to pick up anyone that you see being trampled. Every person on the ground is an obstacle to you, your's, and every person behind you. Every person on the ground is another potential tertiary fatality to the attacker. Every person on the ground is a person and someones son, daughter, mother, father, etc. Taking care of yourself is taking care of the people around you, taking care of the people around you is taking care of yourself.

2) Use your senses

  • see where the crowd is moving and do not oppose the flow directly, or you will be crushed 
  • see where there are bottle necks and react appropriately, be aware of secondary kill zones near main exits (particularly during bombing attacks such as in Manchester)
  • LISTEN to emergency response personnel once they arrive on scene

3) Be aware of your limitations

This is a reiteration of the fact that you are not a hero. Leave the responsibility of the first responder to the people that know what they are doing

  • if you DO have an applicable set of skills (medical, security, LEO, etc.) that could be utilised in the situation, make yourself knownwhen appropriate if you are able to (remember that your first responsibility is the safety of you and your hive if present). If first responders ask you to move along, do not linger or pres the matter as they likely have a response plan in place and you badgering falls under the "needing to be a hero and making the situation worse" banner
  • if you have mobility issues (physical disability, age, small children present, overall poor physical health), it might be a better idea to identify cover than to get in the throng of humans stampeding for the exits

4) Start with a Plan

  • although most people will not actively search out exits and form exit strategies on a regular basis, try to make a point whenever entering areas of high volume crowds to seek out primary, secondary, tertiary routes of egress and escape
  • a good indicator to trigger this thought process is if you are made to stand and wait in a lineup prior to entrance, this eyes on approach to such a scenario will improve your reaction time and familiarity with the layout of the venue
  • do not internalise your plan, if you are with companions let them know where you will be if you become separated, and where you will be if you cant make it to the first muster point, have them vocalise the plan back (this doesn't have to be a war room type of planning session, merely clear and concise communication, if they poo-poo on your method- find new friends)

5) Every Day Carry (EDC)

There are a number of items that can be carried on your person that can assist in the event of emergency, it does not need to be a full kit of just in case gear. Its better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

  • scarf/ handkerchief/bandana- to act as a bandage, tourniquet or a filter for particulates/ debris
  • flashlight- assist in visibility in case of power blackout/ or low visibility to assist responders to visually identify your location if you are trapped
  • whistle- identify location/ attract attention again in case of injury/ debris/ being lost
  • change- pay phones are a thing, during times of disaster/ crisis cell towers can be overloaded and it can become difficult to communicate to those outside of the crisis area Canadian pay phones require a quarter and a dime
  • small portion of duct tape- works better then band ages acutely
  • emergency identification/ credit card- NOT stored i your wallet or purse but in a pocket i a garment that you will not be removing (ie. jacket)
  • water bottle- there is just never a bad time to have potable water at hand




Dax Williams