How To Survive A Terror Attack – The Steps You Can Take


There have been too many terror-related attacks this year. These come in the form of blatant strikes by those looking to cause death, injury, fear and panic on innocent civilians. And each one is different without any strategy or procedure. To prepare for an event like this is to prepare for an event with no tactics.

To be honest, it is outright ridiculous how a person can fathom driving into a crowded street and killing innocent people think for a moment that it is a way to spread a message. But nonetheless, they keep doing it and there is never an indication as to where it would happen next or when it can happen.Shooter

So what if you were involved in a terror-related attack like the ones we have seen in Europe recently? How would you survive? First, we need to look at what happens when a life-threatening event starts to unfold before our eyes.

Before you even realise it, your body has transformed into a heightened state of alertness. As soon as you see something like this, subconsciously you are under stress. Your body has just released a heap of stored sugars, fats and your adrenaline levels are through the roof. Your breathing has increased rapidly, your pupils have just dilated and your sense of smell and hearing has just picked up. On top of that, your muscles have tensed to prepare for action, your blood clotting mechanisms are activated and you are in survival mode.

Flight or Fight

So now what? The next thing you do decides whether you are stunned with fear, start running for your life, or you stay and assist victims or move to attack an aggressor. This is the fight or flight response and a very mental element of survival.

Military and law enforcement professionals are often trained in stress-inducing scenarios so that they can operate at a confident level in stressful conditions. To overcome the panic-inducing stress they manage their stress and think with clarity in a combat-related situations by:

  • knowing themselves
  • anticipating their fears
  • being realistic
  • keeping a positive attitude
  • reminding themselves of what is at stake
  • training (realistic stress-induce training)
  • learning stress management techniques

Without these, they are not able to survive many of the threats they face. Training yourself might not be so easy, but you can teach yourself some great stress management techniques that you can rely upon in any given emergency event. Stress management techniques are things such as relaxation skills, time management, assertiveness and self-confidence skills and the creative viewing of different situations.

What You Can Do In A Terror-Attack Or Shooting

Keeping a positive attitude

This is a principle from the Marine Corps Manual and for good reason. It means keeping a positive frame of mind no matter what the circumstance. In a terror-related scenario the first thing, and the easiest thing to do, is to panic. You would panic because your life might be in danger, or because there has been injuries or deaths. But a key principle is to stay positive so that you refrain from panicking.


Notifying police is one of the most important principles

Once you are in control of your stress and you have a clear and positive mindset, despite the situation, you can use the ALICE approach. It is a principle taught to students, teachers, businesses and law enforcement staff to manage terror-attacks, shootings and attackers.

ALICE is meant to be used in scenarios where there is an active killer, violent intruder or active assailant. Those terms refer to an ‘individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area’. It stands for:

  • A: Alert
  • L: Lockdown
  • I: Inform
  • C: Counter
  • E: Evacuate

In the Alert stage of the scenario you have witnessed an attack. You should first ensure that authorities have been notified and alert other people in your vicinity. Doing this could result in a lot of lives spared and can be done through verbal methods, text or calling.

In the Lockdown phase, if you cannot safely escape or leave the area without endangering yourself and others with you, then barricading or ‘locking down’ an area is important. This can be done by barricading a room, switching all electronic devices to silent mode and prepare countering strategies. This phase is important as police response times can vary depending upon the area that you are in. The average police response time can be between 10 – 14 minutes and while this is not a failure of police it is time that you need to prepare for. In that time, when you are in the lockdown room authorities may apprehend the attacker, but meanwhile, you should still be planning an escape route and a means to defend yourselves should an attacker gain entrance.

London Attack

A reminder of how much of an impact these horrible attacks can have on people – London 2017

Ideally a lockdown room is going to be a place with a lockable, firm door. Using extra reinforcements against the door provides further cover and places of concealment should also be found. When finding a lockdown area, the purpose is not to hide, but to also plan an escape. The primary focus of all of this is to safely leave an area, so this should be the imperative.

Informing is to continue relevant communication at all times. If you are with a group of people, one person should remain on the phone to authorities providing a constant flow of information as to your movements, situation and what you are witnessing. This information should also include any updates on the attacker’s location, movements and actions. In the event that an active killer is nearby this may be halted to keep silence.

The next part is to Counter and does not mean you should attempt to confront an attacker. Countering an attacker is a last resort. Instead, counter means to focus on creating distractions that reduce the shooter’s ability to shoot.

In this scenario, if a gunman was to enter a room, you should be throwing anything from books to chairs which would cause enough of a distraction to allow people to escape from a room or to overcome the attacker and disarm them. These would be ‘weapons of opportunity’ from the Marine Corps Fundamentals Of Martial Arts which basically means any item you can throw or swing, use it.

The countering of an intruder is the very last resort of the ALICE program and should only be carried out when a direct confrontation is about to happen.

The last part is the Escape and the removal of yourself and those with you out of the danger area. The escape method includes the safe escape by any means such as higher floors, through windows and other means of evacuation without putting yourself in danger from the attacker.

These are principles to protect your life, but one terror attack is not like the other and sadly it is very difficult to counter an enemy that works in such unpredictable ways. While the ALICE method is a great way to keep yourself and others from danger and plan an escape, the essential survival methods of alerting others around you and police, running and hiding and escaping are a priority in any event.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic!