Boom, bang, smoke, fire, or just alarms. When you are in unfamiliar surroundings, everyone without training generally runs in the same direction, away from the event.
So what to do?
Run within the crowd and hope there is sufficient meat around you to soak up any flack, explosives, bullets, or blades?
Or did you carry out your due diligence to keep yourself (and others) from harm. That all important survey of exits and plan for a couple of ways out in case of emergencies. checking that doors were unlocked, exits were cleared, and whether there was adequate lighting. That’s just in case you weren’t carrying an EDC with a small torch and the essentials like dust masks, gloves, a weapon, charged up mobile, and a small first aid kit.
I’ve been in panicky crowds before and the worst thing to do is to ‘go with the flow’. Two reasons.
- For a disabled person the push and frantic behavior can put you on the ground in seconds. After that it’s only a matter of time before you get crushed.
- The second is that fear of running over a cliff or being carried by their momentum into a “secondary”. That’s a terrorist (and ambush) trick where the main escape route out is booby trapped or/and covered by a shooter(s).
Yet even fleeing needs careful thought.
Remember the “hope there is sufficient meat around you “?
There is a good case for not relying on that.
Instead you concentrate on moving from cover to cover and NOT being pushed by others in an uncontrolled crush of bodies.
To do that you need to be able to move within a crowd to control your movement.
Yet there is a danger, especially if you are disabled.
Like fighting a powerful water current it is best to use the flow but angle towards the edges. Problem is, in a frantic crowd, you have to be merciless about your safety.
For me that’s easy and two flailing sticks will make space around you despite the panic. Unlike self defense where the objective is to put the person down, here you want to inflict pain enough to get people moving away from you. So none of the leg strikes you’ve trained for, now it’s upper body, less the neck and head.
Remember it’s pain you need, not incapacitation. Having said that, if someone retaliates, put them down. You are already in a “strike (aka aggressive) poise” and that may give you the edge.
Then, as the force and blocking lessens, that’s when you move DIAGONALLY, with the flow to the edges.
Wisely though, and putting yourself on the opposite side of the aggressor(s) or event while carefully scanning for possible IED’s or aggressors.
So what happens if someone opens up?
Without adequate cover, the best you can do with limited mobility is hit the ground and play dead. ‘Fall’ down and curl up like a hedgehog. Protect your head, neck, and your legs. You will need all three when you get a chance to escape. If possible try to get under cover as you do that, be it a table, stage, or between pillars. NEVER curl up along a discarded bag. That may be an IED!
Except there is that “hide, run, or fight mantra” of dealing with a active shooter.
The hide or run bit is a judgement call and calls for a huge bit of luck that the person(s) you are evading are inexperienced in assaults, or don’t know the full layout of the place you find yourself in.
That place where you did your due diligence and planning.
As for the fight bit?
Unless you are armed, trained with that weapon, or have decent expedient weapons.
AND only if you are capable of mounting an ambush AND are determined and fit enough to keep going an assault until the threat is neutralized.
Perhaps the other two options are better suited to you.
Right the way through this I’ve been speaking about myself as I am mildly disabled and use walking sticks. I’ve just covered that one.
- For wheel chair users?
Don’t go down, don’t get unseated, and if you are fight to reach the slack water by the walls.
- Those with young kids or partners.
At all times those you are trying to protect MUST BE IN FRONT OF YOU!
Behind you or to one side is a recipe for disaster.
Behind may get trampled, alongside your grip on them may be torn apart by the pressure. A panicked crowd will easily break the hold you have on any child and once they fall, it’s unlikely the crowd will even feel them.
So if you can CARRY a child only be mindful to GET TO THE EDGES because of you go down, so will they.
- If someone in front you are protecting goes down, Turn and fight the pressure. You need space to rescue them and the only way you can do that is to make space the hard way. NOISE AND FULL ON AGGRESSION.
Then, when you generate a space, scoop and head for the edges.
- Those who get separated.
This is a tough one but bear with me.
In a surging crowd it’s foolish to try and fight their force if you cannot see the person you have lost.
So I want you to consider these points NOW before you have to make a decision then.
They will buck your instinct to protect and save but try to see the logic.
- Although separated, the person you are looking for may have been carried to safety by the surge. Children may have been scooped up and carried, others helped to escape, so if you are outside check there first.
- The panicked and numbers on the move will lessen over time.
So if you cannot find them outside, wait until a noticeable lull before trying to get back in. However there may be two problems there.
- The first is Security.
They may have been ordered to NOT let you back in.
Personally I have no qualms about laying into someone on minimum wage preventing me from saving my own.
Don’t stand there arguing, JUST ACT!
Maximum aggression may be needed to make space then reenter.
So if you aren’t willing to go that far, forget it.
- The second is what you may be re-entering into.
ARE YOU SURE YOU CHECKED EVERYWHERE BEFORE REENTERING?
If an active shooter is still operating, you may just present to them as another target. Now it’s a judgment call.
If you are absolutely certain your charges are within, now is the time for movement with care. Armed or not, you will be noticed as numbers dwindle simply because you are entering and not fleeing.
I’m sorry to say that terrorists aren’t dressed the same so anyone you come across must be deemed hostile. Male, female, teen to child, it doesn’t matter. All can hurt you as terrorists or just those who are just trying to escape and see you as an aggressor.
It’s going to put you in a position where if they attack, you may face killing innocents. (Not quite as clear cut as you first thought is it?). Yes you can disarm them (if you know how) but what if you find a genuine bad guy? Do you pop him or her? With the law, in the cold quiet safety of a court room, you could find yourself being accused of murder or (if you didn’t do your job right), assault with a deadly weapon.
If you find your charge, will they be mobile?
If they aren’t, or even worse never will be, what’s your plan?
Grief swamps caution in the main and you still need to get out.
If they need medical help, can you field dress them enough to move them? If you can’t, then you have to protect them until help arrives. Now we are talking about cover against attack or debris.
Only what will you do if the air becomes toxic?
Will you stay, scoop and run regardless of the effect, or just leave?
IF THEY ARE DEAD, LEAVE THEM.
Carrying out a corpse, no matter what you may feel, is a restriction on your movement. To put it bluntly the dead can afford to wait, you need to carry on, especially if others are depending on you.
Is that it?
Not exactly but maybe none of that happens and you manage to ‘escape’ from the scene. Only don’t think that now you are out of the scenario you were in, everything is over. There may be others hidden, waiting to attack. So do yourself a favor, never move in a straight line or in the open. Always choose and use cover wisely as you move until you are certain you are safe.
Safe however can be compromised from unexpected directions.
Sometimes your saviors may be less trained than you are and decide in their ‘red mist’ or ‘hyped up’ state of mind that you are the aggressor(s).
The watchwords now are CAUTION and COMPLIANCE
Do what you are told, slowly, clearly, open handed, and without complaint or hesitation. They may restrain you, cuff you, and put you on the ground. Never resist, they will react accordingly to resistance.
Remember, if you had to act aggressively, or are armed, you will have questions that need answering.
Real life law is nothing like the movies.
It’s dumb and ignorant and will judge your actions incorrectly, nine out of ten times. So be damn sure you don’t speak without legal representation apart from identifying yourself and, if accompanied, letting them vouch for you.
That’s because if death has happened, they will be looking for someone to blame.
It will never be the terrorist, criminal, or the insane person shooting everyone, but the easy target that is you.
And that’s it for now.
As always your comments are welcome.