“For want of strategy an army falls, But victory comes with much planning.” Proverbs 11:14 (The Israel Bible™)
Following Sunday’s mass shooting attack at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left at least 26 people dead and 20 wounded, ZAKA, Israel’s premiere search and rescue organization, known as the first on the scene of a terror attack and the last to leave, offered advice should one find themselves in such a dire situation.
“Before 9/11, there was an attitude that terrorists sought to be heard and there would be an opportunity to negotiate,” David Rose, international director of ZAKA, told Breaking Israel News. “Unfortunately, today, we see that attackers don’t value their own lives and certainly not that of their victims.
“Firstly, if one sees that a terrorist does not cover his face, that is an indication that he does not expect to escape. Therefore, one must immediately go into survival mode.
“Even if a terrorist covers his face, most incidents end in 5 minutes and the average response team arrives in 18 minutes. Clearly, knowing what to do in such a situation and taking sensible precautions can make the difference between one’s life and death.”
He suggested 8 basic responses to a terror situation.
1. Run. If you can remove oneself from the danger without being overly exposed, do so. Moving targets are harder to hit than stationary ones. Stay low and try to take others with you. There is strength in numbers. In a high-rise building, it is recommended to go to the roof. Statistics have found that those who run have a better chance of survival than those who play dead.
2. Hide. It is preferable to place yourself in a spot with substantial brickwork or heavily reinforced walls. Try to lock or barricade the area. Stay away from doors and windows, which can be perforated.
3. Be aware of exits. In general, you should always know where exits can be found. In a terror situation, as soon as there is an opportunity to escape, take it.
4. Turn cell phone to silent and turn off vibrate. You should be as invisible as possible. If you can see the attacker, you are probably not invisible.
5. Leave belongings behind. Everything but life can be renewed.
6. Call the police. Even if you cannot speak or make noise, listen to police instructions and do your best to convey location, number of suspects, and their description, including type of clothing and weapon, casualties or hostages
7. As a last resort, take the terrorist out. Gather a group of 5-6 people and try to kill and/or disarm the terrorist by hitting hard. Aim to kill and then run. Go for the eyes and/or the groin. If possible, try to disarm him. Yell, throw things and do anything you can to fight for your life. The key is speed, strength, surprise, and aggression.
8. Mentally strengthen yourself. You should repeat in your mind that you will survive. You should also review in his mind what you have to live for. Determination enhances survival instincts and releases adrenaline, which helps people to react better. Repeat affirmations to help stay calm and get to safety. Never willingly go with an attacker and do not comply with the terrorists’ demands as statistically, those who do so die.
Advice for surviving a bombing is slightly different than for an active shooter, as many dangers arise after a bomb. You should leave the area as quickly as possible, both because buildings become unstable and terrorists often place secondary bombs in the area.
If you cannot leave the area, take shelter in a cupboard or under a table to get protection from falling debris. Do not take elevators and stay away from kitchens and other areas where a fire might easily ignite.
ZAKA notes that it is preferable for those with first aid or medical backgrounds to help victims. However, if you find yourself in a situation near injured people and no help or limited help is available, ZAKA gives the following advice:
1. Do not move a casualty that complains of back or neck pain, severe abdominal pain or bleeding, unless absolutely necessary.
2.If a person is unconscious but breathing and has no apparent injuries, secure their location to a safe place.
3. If a person is not breathing, administer CPR using hands only if one is not properly trained in rescue breaths.
4. If a person is bleeding heavily, apply pressure to the wound.
“There is nothing more precious than life,” stated Rose. “Unfortunately, terror worldwide is increasing with well over 1,000 attacks in 2017 alone. We must all prepare for the worse and pray for the best.”
The face of terror is constantly changing. Though often assumed to be religiously motivated, and with investigations into the motives of the Texas gunman ongoing, only one thing is clear: it is becoming more and more difficult to calculate where the next attack will take place or who will be the victims. This attack happened in a town of less than 400 residents, with victims ranging from five to 72 years old.
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This article was written in cooperation with ZAKA.