Updated: Aug 9
I once had the opportunity to visit Vienna, Austria. It was an absolutely beautiful city imbued with culture and history around every corner. A city of intrigue, particularly during the Cold War. Not the type of place you would expect a terror attack. Nor with the efficiency of Austrian counterterrorism police would you expect a long reaction time. But a gunman killed four people and injured another 23 on the evening of 02 November. A friend of mine shared a couple of interesting phenomenon about the event:
1. Firstly, people heard the gunshots but continued walking, jogging, and engaging in whatever activity they were engaged in when the shooting started. Their minds refused to accept the truth or even the possibility of the truth that someone was shooting--a lot--in those beautiful streets.
2. Secondly, authorities took an inordinate amount of time to get to the scene. German press stated 19 minutes--a timeframe within a couple of minutes noted by my friend.
What can we learn from this act of wanton terror?
Without overthinking the issue, it is important to accept the fact that this kind of violence can happen anywhere: a college campus; a business; an island retreat; a place of worship; a vacation beach; a mall; a night club--anywhere. If you can accept that then what can you do to mitigate the possibility of becoming part of a mass casualty event? Aside from living the life of a hermit, you can start by engaging in some visualization.
Whenever you go to a public place, take a few seconds and ask yourself where would you go if you suddenly found yourself in a worst case scenario? I play this game with my kids whenever we go to a store (like Costco), I'll ask them: "Ok, if a bad guy came in where should we go?" They quickly figure out an alternate exit in a matter of seconds. Since we devolve to our lowest level of training, if the worst did happen, the chances are pretty good we would make our way to that alternate exit. Perhaps more importantly, the game teaches the kids to be aware.
The second important point is don't count on the authorities. Nineteen minutes probably felt like nineteen lifetimes to those were cognizant of the danger. And if fleeing is not an option, then fighting is the only one left. Learn how and where to strike another human being to take them to non-functionality as quickly and decisively as possible. It is easier than you might think but it still takes visualization, some targeting knowledge, and practice to increase the odds in your favor. If you choose to carry a firearm or other weapon, seek instruction and maintain proficiency. I'd rather know how and never use it, than to find myself in a situation where I wished I knew what to do. Seek out those who know. I cover many of these topics in my book available on this site and in Amazon and Apple Books for those without ready access to instruction.
Sometimes, just a few minutes of forethought can make all the difference between finding yourself six feet underground, or above dirt.