Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How to Act During an Attack

It happened Edmonton, it can happen anywhere. It happened in Ottawa. It can happen anywhere.

I'm no security expert and not a member of law enforcement but I do take some responsibility for my own well being. It doesn't have to be unnatural either. Parents watch over children, women assess their safety all the time,  we all lock our doors in houses and cars. It only takes one time such as losing a child in the store for a time, feeling menaced walking somewhere or having something stolen from you from an unlocked property to make one change their behaviour.

I will cross the street every time when someone I don't know approaches during certain hours. Why? Because I've been attacked. My experience tells me that if I don't know the person, it could be dangerous. I don't base it on gender, race or possible religion. Often in Winnipeg on a dark street and in the cold you don't know anything discernible about who approaches. I assess the situation, cross and give myself options.

Situation awareness.

I don't want to be paranoid but good situational awareness becomes a habit. I lock my car and house, know where my family is to get in touch, let people know where I am, never assume nothing can happen and when I go somewhere, I know how I'm getting out.

When I left for the Soviet Union when the Cold War was heating up, my parents told me if something went wrong, they'd meet me in Finland and to cross the border somehow.  My mother was joking but also she was not. As it turned out, the Soviet hosts kept me longer than anticipated and I have no easy way to let them know. In the end, it was the Moscow CBC correspondent who helped get word to my family.

People get scared. It doesn't matter if it is a fire or if they hear an explosion. It is okay to be frightened but most people who hear a fire alarm don't hide under the bed. It is deeply ingrained in us to look for the exit. Most places now before a meeting advise people just as if they are in an airplane where the exits are. We often ignore the repeated warning but it seems many of us have learned it by rote. It is always amazing how many people file out safely and how many lives are saved as a result.

Security has been enhanced at many events people go to. It doesn't matter if it is the Ex or a Jets game. Security will go through bags and use a wand or even pat you down. Today, the IGF field where the Blue Bomber play was putting up cement barricades to block truck attacks. Plans still remain to put bollards around the police headquarters to do the same thing. However, as has recently been shown, the vulnerabilities can be just outside the security perimeter. You cannot rely on help being readily available or timely.

We already take precautions now when we go out. We try not be alone or if we have to be, walk in a lit area and try to be aware of the situation around us. We let people know where we are, when we are expected home and who we are with. We need to be more vigilant about it.

Winnipeg, despite its reputation, is generally safe for many people. Most of the violence in this city is drug or alcohol related, happens between people who usually know each other, is often associated with criminal enterprise, rarely related to politics or religion. It often has a race component but not specifically a race crime although there is likely debate on that. Residents of the city have not experienced an attack that seems to happen all to regularly elsewhere.

We can't be smug about it though. Despite a diverse and generally welcoming population today, there have been people here on watch lists and a former resident of Charleswood died in Ontario in a failed attempt at terrorism. Other residents have disappeared and are suspected of joining overseas organizations fighting possibly in Africa. We just don't know.

The only thing we can do as residents and when we travel is have a plan. Don't be paralyzed, don't be indecisive, assess risk and move. If someone you know is hurt, move them or drag them to safety. Two people were shot while doing CPR in Las Vegas. Like being on water, move a person to where revival techniques are safer for both.

Canadians are all over the world. It is probably best to remember there is not an invisible shield around you. Be careful and not a naif ready to get in trouble. Enjoy yourself wherever you are but no what your situation is to avoid robbery, terrorism and violence. When in doubt... move. Get out of the danger area. Most times nothing will ever happen. However, just as in a fire or if your plane goes down in the Hudson, be ready and act. Shock is something you can let happen after you are safe.

Everyone be careful out there and take care of one another.

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