Keeping your family safe from terrorist truck attacks

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Terrorism is a real threat in today’s world. One of the more recent method is a terrorist truck attack-having a lone terrorist drive a truck towards a crowd of innocent people. It may be worth rehearsing your actions in your mind in case this does happen.


Terrorist truck attacks are one of the latest methods of terrorism. They are easy to plot and skip over the entire complexity required for a bombing or shooting type of attack. Bombings require specialized knowledge and materials which open up a risk of being tracked before the attack is executed. A shooting event requires training and acquiring of the weapons and a vulnerable target. On the other hand, the truck requires an individual who can drive, and he can rent a truck from just about anywhere. The attacker will only need to pick the time and place where he can inflict optimum damage-that is about all the planning he would need.

We have seen this attack in Nice, France and a few months ago in Berlin, Germany.

It has yet to happen in US soil, but given how simple the attack is and how it has seemed effective-it is possible that someone in the US will pick up after this method and create some damage.

If it is a possibility here, how might you be able to stay aware of this danger and keep yourself and family out of harm’s way?


WHAT ARE THE PREFERRED TARGETS?

So far in previous truck attacks the targets were large crowds gathered outside. The crowds were gathered for some type of festivity, but the same risks can be found in other events. This might apply to a protest, a marathon, a concert or a busy Friday night in a downtown outdoor venue.

The key is:

  1. Lots of people
  2. Accessible to a fairly large vehicle (truck)
  3. Wide enough space to maneuver the truck for multiple attacks

The easy pattern is to find a large crowd in high density cities when they are gathered for some kind of celebration. The celebration itself has a theme that can be used as part of the message of the attack. Nice is the 5th most populous city in France, and Berlin is the capital of Germany. The significance of the city may have been part of how they were selected as targets.

2010 Parade in Nice. Photo from Wikivisually.com

Consider also the nature of the festivities. Remember, it was Bastille day (French National day) and Christmas. Similar festivities in the US might be Independence day or a Thanksgiving day parade. In both previous attacks people were in good spirits and care free. If you do decide to participate in an event where such an attack can happen, what can you do to stay ahead?


HOW DID PEOPLE REACT?

Watching the videos for both terrorist truck attacks, we can see how a lot of people stared in disbelief-some until it was too late. People can freeze in these types of situations as the mind tries to process the unusual information coming.  Some people stood still and motioned their hands up, gesturing the mad attacker to stop.

After enough people had screamed to get out of the way, most of the crowds had enough presence of mind to react. There is panic and everyone simply tries to get out of the way. There is pushing and disorientation. Some people even managed to keep their heads and found a chance to fight back. A few people tried to stop the attacker in Nice by grabbing onto the side of the driver’s door and attacking him. (In retrospect this was dangerous as the driver may have well been armed.)


WHO SURVIVED?

Mainly those who were far enough from the attack had a great chance of survival. They heard the commotion and were distanced enough that they could process what was happening. They then had enough time to get to safety. If you were far away enough, you had a pretty good chance of surviving it. The truck had a very limited maneuverability and traveled in a fairly straight line.

Those who were close to the truck had a smaller chance of surviving, reaction time is very important. If you are closer to the source of danger, you will need to react faster.

 


STAY AWARE

Does the event you are participating in have a religious or political theme that can be leveraged for the attacker’s message?

What are the socio-political hot topics right now? Would any of them be tied to this event in some way?

Are there any high value targets possibly coming to this event? Maybe a public figure is giving a speech of some sort. A quick review on the event’s website can give you most of this information. A quick online check can also give you some idea on news trends that may have some connection to the event.

It is interesting to note that the Nice attacker had lived in Nice. He was parked along the promenade of the attack earlier that day. The promenade had been closed off to vehicles for the festivities. He was a local and had rented the truck himself. He parked the truck and was waiting for the time to attack. Sometimes you will notice these kinds of signs-most of the time they will be nothing, but in this case the attacker was real.


KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Situational awareness is key. If you are going to be stationary in this event, you should plan some things. Keep an eye for a safe way to get out in the event of a panic. Can you find a driveway which is small enough that it is probably not where a truck attack might come from? Are there obstacles you can reach, which will provide you with protection? These obstacles may include:

  • Bollards
  • Walls
  • Concrete planters
  • Thick bushes
  • Trees
  • Permanent platforms or ditches
Bollards
Heavy and permanent planters

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