Run, Hide, Tell? London attack response likely saved lives

2017-06-05 11:18
Armed police officers patrol the streets of London (Chris J Ratcliffe, AFP)

Armed police officers patrol the streets of London (Chris J Ratcliffe, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

College student Vashu Tyagi was leaving his dorm and heading to a nearby bar to celebrate the end of classes on Saturday night in London when he saw people running frantically down the street.

As three men with large knives moved through the area, stabbing anyone in their path, police yelled at Tyagi and others to get back inside — an order he credits with saving his life.

"Obviously they gave us good advice," he said. "I'm quite lucky to be here."

As reports of stabbings in a popular London nightspot started flowing in late on Saturday, police sent out a tweet warning people in the area to run, hide, then call authorities. 

Officers on the scene also shouted at bystanders to disperse, a response that experts say likely saved lives.

Yet while the Run, Hide, Tell strategy — known in the US as Run, Hide, Fight — has been credited with saving lives in certain circumstances, some say it's not perfect, especially when a victim's first instinct might be to freeze on the spot.

"The best thing you can do is to get as far away from the source of the danger as possible," said Denis Fischbacher-Smith, a risk analyst and professor at the University of Glasgow.

"But it's never going to be a universal solution. It's never going to work all the time."

Saturday's attack unfolded over a few minutes: First, a rented van veered off the road and drove into pedestrians on busy London Bridge.

Three men wielding large knives got out of the van and attacked people at bars and restaurants in the popular Borough Market. The men killed seven people and injured roughly 50 before they were shot dead by police.

Run, Hide, Tell strategy

The Run, Hide, Tell strategy promoted by the United Kingdom's National Police Chiefs' Council says that in the event of an active attack, people should first run to a place of safety. 

If there is nowhere to go, hiding is the next best option, setting up barricades if possible. Then, when safe to do so, victims are urged to call police.

France has a similar strategy, and posters providing directions are meant to hang in all public places.

The goal is to make sure people are vigilant and adopt the right attitude in the event of an attack, said Cedric Michel, president of the Union for Defence of Municipal Police.

Fischbacher-Smith said the strategies in Europe are an evolution of the Run, Hide, Fight approach in the United States, which started in 2012 in Houston, Texas.

Run, Hide, Fight is standard protocol for active-shooter situations in the US. It advises people to run away if possible, get out of view, and if that's not feasible, try to incapacitate the shooter if there is an imminent threat.

Larry Barton, professor of public safety at the University of Central Florida and a threat assessment instructor for the FBI, said the strategy saves lives, but people need to make decisions quickly.

"The longer you wait and deliberate ... the chances of your survivability really diminish notably," he said.

'All in'

Hiding is easier in a school setting or office, where people know the building's layout. On the street, or in a stadium or nightclub, hiding is virtually impossible. And if someone choses to fight, he or she has to be "all in", he said.

In the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, roughly 40 people hid in bathrooms — where they were trapped for hours as the gunman went through the club, then became cornered when he entered the bathroom and began shooting into stalls.

There are occasions in which people cannot protect themselves by running. 

Many people didn't have time to run when a truck careened into a seaside crowd in Nice, France, last year.

More than 80 people died. Those who survived jumped from the promenade onto the beach below or threw loved ones out of the way.

In a study to be released later this month, Barton analysed 61 deadly assaults in public places such as arenas, nightclubs, coffee houses or other venues from 2006 to 2016. 

He found that 73% of those who survived did so by running, and they had no injuries or moderate injuries such as a sprained ankle. 
Twenty percent of survivors hid, but about a third of the hiders were injured. The remaining 7% both ran and hid, he said.

But for those who are out enjoying life, running or hiding might be easier said than done.

Freeze or flee

Joseph LeDoux, a professor of neuroscience at New York University and head of the Emotional Brain Institute, said humans are evolutionarily programmed to freeze when there is danger, and a person can't run if they are frozen on the spot.

"It sort of short-circuits the entire slogan from the get-go," he said.

Dean Mobbs, assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology, said an individual's perception of the situation can also affect whether one flees or freezes. If someone feels they can't control a situation, or can't escape it, freezing is more likely, he said. 

In addition, people tend to greet horrific situations with initial disbelief, delaying their response.

But he said that after three attacks in London in as many months, Londoners are more prepared and will likely react more quickly.

One survivor of the London attack said he decided to fight before he ran and hid.

Chef Florin Morariu said he first froze when he went outside the bakery and saw two people stabbing others.

Then, he said, he began fighting and hit one of the attackers on the head with a crate before police told him to run.

"There was a car with a loudspeaker saying 'go, go' and they [police] threw a grenade...and then I ran," he said. He then let about 20 people hide in the bakery and closed the shutters.


Read more on:    uk  |  security

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

5 top leg exercises for men

Here’s our selection of the five best leg exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

 
 

You won't want to miss...

10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.