London, Nice, Barcelona, Paris, Manchester, Istanbul, Stockholm. Ring a bell yet?

Nowadays lowly assholes use guns as well as knives, bombs, cars, and combinations of all of the above to mass-murder as many innocent people as possible to scare as many people as possible.

The odds that you will killed in an act of terrorism in the US is 1 in 1.600.000 per year (2001/2017). Europe is a lot lower still: 1 in 2.800.000. In Europe we are 4888 times more likely to die from a heart attack than a terrorist attack. Just to put things in a bit of an perspective. But that is historically speaking and there is a trend of more terrorist attacks happening. And statistics hardly matter when you are attacked.

The probability is not high, but the possibility is 100%. Why not be prepared?

The Barcelona Incident did shake me up. I guess it’s the way that works when people are cowardly killed in your backyard. I couldn’t help but thinking:……’What could have been done to reduce the number of casualties?’

These mass casualty events get huge media exposure, but the ‘What to do if it happens to you’ seems to get lost somehow.

So…..Here are the official Guidelines and Recommendations for the Average Citizen from the FBI and Homeland Security (with some added tips).

Be Aware of your surroundings

Obviously you have to be aware. How can you respond to danger when you can only see it coming at the last moment?

Always scan for exits, where ever you are. Scan for anomalies from the baseline.

I use the ‘what if’-game with my daughter. I ask her: ‘What if we were attacked right now?’ ‘Where are the exits?’ ‘Who could help you?’ ‘What would you do?’ ‘Who looks suspicious and why?” What is out of the ordinary here?’


Last week, we, as a family, attended a Katy Perry concert in Amsterdam. We went there fully prepared. Together we had made a target package of the location (inside and outside: amazing what you can find online), avenues of approach, most likely method of attack, security protocol of the venue, criticalities and vulnerabilities. We picked RV locations. And left before the end of the show (to avoid the crowd). Lessons learned from the book ‘Sheep No More’ by Jonathan Gillian. Highly recommended read.

This sounds paranoid for some. But: ‘Heeeey, What can happen at an innocent Ariana Grande Concert for teens?’……..right?

Statistically the attack will be over in under 10 minutes. Beginning till end. Most casualties will be made in the first 3 minutes. Most of that time there will probably not be professional help, like police, to keep you safe. That is your job. A lot can happen in 180 seconds. You are your first responder! Always be Ready for that!


Be switched on. If you are in a mall in Europe and it sounds like screaming and gunfire…….it probably is. It’s probably not an Iraqi wedding. Or early fireworks. Don’t rationalize it away.

Once you realize an attack is taking place, you will have to overcome your fear. You will have decisions to make. Those decisions will be made a lot faster by a prepared mind. Seconds count. You will need a plan.

Most people’s reaction will be: Do Nothing. Really, we have been conditioned to rationalize danger away (head in the sand) and to ‘follow the herd’. And trust me: The herd will do nothing thoughtfully. Sheep have 2 basic gears: ‘Graze’ and ‘Stampede’.

RUN (Escape)


It has shown time and time again that escaping is your best option. Get away from the threat ASAP. Be sure to move towards a safe area. There might be several avenues of approach used by the terrorists. But don’t over-analyze. Action beats reaction.

Try to take others with you on your path to safety, but don’t let them slow you down. Don’t spend precious time convincing others to escape. They will likely be either like a ‘deer frozen in headlights’ or will ‘choose’ to hide.

Do not try to move wounded. This is not the time. The threat needs to be eliminated first. Don’t make one victim into two.

If you need to clear a line of fire, zigzag. A moving target is much more difficult to hit than a static one. Zigzag-ing will make you a harder target still. Try to use cover.

Leave your stuff behind. Buy a new laptop later, if needed. Your priority is to survive.

Don’t forget your beer..

If you encounter law enforcement personnel on your way out of harms way: show your hands, spread your fingers, follow instructions. Show them that you are not a threat. The last thing you want, is to get shot by a police officer.

These officers are not there to help you or the wounded. They are there to neutralize the threat. Don’t hinder them in doing so.

If a vehicle is the weapon of choice, run in a sharp angle from the direction of the car. Not directly from it (or towards it obviously).




As soon as you are in a safe area, call the Emergency Number for the country you are in. Don’t assume that somebody else has already made that call.

Tell the operator

a. Where the attack is taking place and the location of the attacker

b. The number of attackers, their weapons and what the attacker(s) look like

c. Report on number of victims, if any

Prevent any other persons of moving into the danger zone.

Do you want to die fighting or on your knees?

HIDE (Evade)

Cannot run? All exits blocked off? Then hiding is your second option.

Close off your hiding place by locking and barricading the door, without restricting your further movement. Try to have another way out.

Stay out of sight.

Be sure to hide behind cover (protection from bullets), not mere concealment (like camouflage) and be quiet. Be very quiet and make sure your phone is as well.

Stay there until you are 100% certain the threat is gone.


Cannot escape? Cannot hide? FIGHT! If the attacker is close to you and you cannot run or hide: FIGHT. You can close a distance of 7 meters in 1.5 seconds. Go for it. Change the status of the attacker from predator to prey and rip loose. Give ‘m something to think about. You might get shot or stabbed, but you might just survive because of your action. If not you will be shot or stabbed for sure.

You will have to give the attacker the ‘uhhhh shit…..not what i planned’ moment. That will only happen by using violence of action. Turn yourself into a human weapon. Use improvised weapons. Commit and destroy the threat. Anything less will not do.

It’s best to attack in a group, because courage is contagious!

Control the attacker’s weapon, terminate the threat. Use lethal force. It’s Now or Never-time!

No violent attacker ‘just gave up’. They were forced to give up by either law enforcement officers or brave civilians or were KILLED.


These are the Guidelines for the Average Citizen. But when you are reading this, chances are……You are not an Average Citizen. Chances are that you would like to be part of the solution, an asset. To not be a Sheep.




So, Question:….Do you think the likelihood of surviving an attack and rescuing others increases or decreases when:

  1. You are aware
  2. You are fit and strong
  3. You have trained yourself in the use of violence (martial arts, Tony Blauer SPEAR, Tim Larkin Target Focus Training)
  4. You are armed and skilled
  5. You have a medic kit and know how to use it
  6. You have thought about and visualized what to do in an attack. See yourself as a winner.

Right. Then you might consider engaging the attacker and incapacitating the SoB. And save untold number of lives.

So get to work, dammit! It’s your responsibility as a person, husband, father and fellow citizen!


Do you think somebody you know might benefit from knowing what to do in case of an attack? Your loved ones? Your friends?

Be sure to share this information with them. There is no downside to being prepared!


Written by Robin C, Former Dutch SF officer, Operator, 12 years into adapting to civilian life

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