What would I do?
The recent terrorist shootings around the world make for scary reading. Indeed, as I write this Brussels is still in lockdown, due to specific information about ‘persons known’ targeting various locations in the city, and military helicopters have been whirring over West London most of the day.
It’s impossible not to feel empathy for the victims, and for those left to pick up the pieces of their lives. But it’s not the end: indeed, it could be just the beginning of a period when we will have to be at our most alert to potential danger. And I don’t feel the urge to adjust my behaviour, to avoid public transport or crowded shopping malls (or at least, no more than normal).
What does confuse me is what I should do if a ‘situation’ arises? Our Government’s latest advice is that if you are caught up in a gun attack, you should ‘run, hide and tell’. Run, hide and tell? Unless adrenaline has a profound affect on arthritic knees, I won’t be running anywhere. Limping, crawling or walking away as fast as I can is the more likely alternative. But I wonder if even that is the right option.
Whereas the National Counter Terrorism Security Office says that, if escaping from gunfire is not an option, people should try to find cover behind ‘substantial brickwork or heavy reinforced walls’, and then call 999, the security agencies in the US offer differing advice. They say that we should ‘run, hide and fight’.
Thinking back to the summer, and the man who was spied loading his gun while in the toilet of the train from Amsterdam to Paris and subsequently taken down by fellow travellers, I wonder if they have a point. In fact, the American advice comes from a study of 160 ‘active shooter events’, which apparently showed that in 21 cases the gunman was overpowered by unarmed civilians.
What’s going to offer the best chance of survival: running, acting dead, or catching the shooter unawares while reloading and overpowering him? You can tell I’ve been giving this a fair amount of thought in my waking hours. Would I be able to work out whether he/she was wearing a suicide vest? Would I have room in my handbag to carry my heaviest frying pan? Is pepper spray a viable option?
I can only hope that my sixth sense for trouble, developed in my teens, is as effective now as it was then. Or are we, like cats, granted nine lives? I know that, as a family, we have lost a few of ours, but the current threat cannot make us change our behaviour because we are scared of losing a few more.
I also know that it’s far more likely that I’ll come off my bike – again. Although one in the family with a compound fracture of the arm is enough to be getting on with.
What would I do in the face of danger? Knowing me, probably try to slip away unseen. But I hope if I were to spot a potential threat and thought I could do something to prevent it, that I would.