Vicarious survival lessons from the recent Paris terrorist attacks

By thc0655 on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 - 2:19pm

The videos of the various parts of the most recent Paris terrorist attacks are starting to be released and "leaked."  Since we never know where and when any of us might find ourselves in an active shooter incident or terrorist attack, I thought it might be helpful for us to discuss some vicarious lessons about how we might survive such a thing if we ever have the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  We'll be much more likely to survive and even win if we have given these rare events some thought and planning in advance.   (If you come across some helpful video with lessons to be learned from them, please add them to the discussion along with your thoughts.)

Watch the videos below of part of the terrorist attacks in Paris.  Here are some lessons I picked up from the video.

1. Don’t freeze in place! Do something.
2. If you’re in the kill zone where rounds are coming in, move laterally (to the sides) not straight away from the shooter.  For instance if the rounds are coming in from the north, run east or west to get out of the line of fire. Don’t run south: you’re still in the line of fire!
3. If you have to escape something like this, don’t worry about your darn purse!  Just leave it (unless that’s where your gun and spare ammo are, in which case pull them out and leave the purse).
4. Unless you don’t have any other option, don’t run INTO a building or room that’s being fired upon. Run AWAY! Generally, you shouldn’t run into a building at all unless that’s the only cover you can find.  You’re only likely to get yourself cornered by running into a building.
4. If you’re in a room or building that’s being fired upon, run out of the building if possible but DON’T RUN UPSTAIRS (unless you know there’s a way to escape higher up - like a fire escape out the back or something). You risk cornering yourself at the top of the building where you can be finished off.
5. Don’t RUN through a kill zone: Crawl!
6. Know the difference between concealment (which only hides you from view of the bad guy) and cover (something that actually stops bullets). Use both concealment and cover if you can, but cover is more important that concealment.  Concealment would include an interior wall made of lumber and sheetrock, and a car door (most bullets can go right through both and still kill you).  Cover would be a stone, concrete or brick wall at least 6” thick, and a car’s engine block.
7. These terrorists were nervous amateurs.  They sprayed rounds into the cafe.  They didn’t take aimed shots.  They stayed farther away than they needed to (making hits less likely) and didn’t move aggressively to get closer to their targets to make sure they were dead.  (They had to assume not a soul there would be armed, because of French gun control laws, so they could have gone anywhere and done anything for the few minutes until armed French police arrived.) There was one exception when a shooter with a rifle approached two women laying on the sidewalk right next to the front of the cafe and attempted to finish them off. (What the heck were they doing just laying there?!) His rifle jammed and he didn’t know how to instinctively and instantly clear the jam and keep firing.  All this tells me a citizen armed with a concealed handgun with a little training could probably have killed some of the terrorists or at least scared them off with some accurate handgun rounds sent back at them. Lessons: get trained, keep training, ALWAYS carry your gun (even to a cafe on Friday night), and carry as much spare ammo as you can.  And don't fool around with mouse guns in small calibers: .22LR, .25, .32 and .380.  Go big or go home (actually go big or STAY home).
This video was produced by the City of Houston in cooperation with the federal Dept of Homeland Security and gives you some good guidance on how to respond to an active shooter kind of situation (it also assumes you aren’t armed, so take it with a grain of salt).


capesurvivor's picture
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Good thoughts, thc

Like everyone with an LTC, I  also tried to game out the scenarios as far as I could tell from media. Sitting facing the door like LEO is always a good idea. Facing crazy suicidal folks, looks like you need to get close enough or be a good enough shot for a head shot, easier said than done. Otherwise you risk setting off their explosive vests. I just bought a 20 y.o. preban G21 (all that is allowed here) mag for my G30 second magazine. Three extra bullets, you never know. Better to go down fighting.

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More lessons, from Mali this time

1. Like I said above: escape out of the building (if at all possible), not up higher into the building.

Three of the gunmen have been killed while the remaining terrorists have taken up positions on the hotel's roof as rescue forces, led by US Special Forces, try to finish off the gunmen.

"Try?"  Good luck with your roof top defilade boys!  Keep your eyes peeled on the sky and listen for the sound of helicopter blades beating the air.

2. Except for true trained, experienced professionals (like military special forces and full time police SWAT teams), in situations like these the "good guys" will often have poor muzzle control (i.e. they point their barrels at other good guys without thinking), their safeties will be "off," and they'll have itchy fingers on triggers where they should not be.  The chance of a negligent discharge (and therefore a friendly fire incident) is high.  As a citizen caught in the melee, you would be wise to keep an eye on your rescuers and try to stay away from any who are waving their guns around with fingers on triggers.  There's plenty of this in the images from Mali.

3. There's one video above from a Chinese citizen filming the street below from a 3rd or 4th floor window.  Do your best not to silhouette yourself in a window while operations are ongoing, unless you're trying to signal for help or escape out the window (he wasn't doing either).  You might get shot by the good guys or the bad guys.

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Was the Paris Attack a False Flag?

Paris Attacks: Another False Flag? Sifting Through The Evidence

I thought that this reviewer did a good job pointing out a number of points classic for government sponsored "synthetic terrorism" (defined as not arising spontaneously, but created by an intelligence agency for a political purpose.)

My favorite type of evidence is a pre-event announcement of an event that has not yet happend.

A couple of other striking parallels with 9/11, when the BBC reporter announced that Building 7 went down 20 minutes prior to the event, ... Wikipedia within two hours from the very onset of the attacks already had posted a fully detailed account complete with footnotes specifying “Syria” being mentioned by a witness, “5 or 6 terrorists”, and “3 suicide bombers” all from the get-go pointing to the big bad Muslim villains yet again. The clinching evidence was Wikipedia running an early story version at 23:06 specifying:

     In a televised statement at approximately 23:58 (local time), French President François Hollande declared

     a state of emergency and closing of borders for the whole of France.

For that announcement on Wikipedia to be made nearly an hour prior to Hollande’s actual statement could suggest that Wikipedia was in fact being used by the French authorities as an information disseminator of a preplanned event, right away establishing an official narrative from the outset that Arab terrorists from Syria were the guilty murderers behind the attacks far in advance of the start of even a preliminary investigation.

It’s also been recently learned like in several previous false flags that security forces in Paris were simultaneously undergoing another live action emergency drill earlier that same day (as in Charleston, Baltimore, Boston, 9/11). Patrick Pelloux, an emergency medical services specialist and one of the first responders to the attacks, confirmed in a radio interview that a live drill had been conducted that morning of the 13th. These co-occurring government events timed perfectly to overlap so called acts of terrorism cannot be considered purely co-incidental.

When a news source is able to announce that an event has occurred BEFORE the event happens, this is conclusive evidence that the event was pre-planned.

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Terry L
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I appreciate the advice re active shooter situations...

This American PPer happened to arrive in Paris just hours after the attacks. I am glad for your advice, thc0655, and will keep it in mind when I'm out in public (and I'm heading out now to get food).

Below is a pic taken last Monday under the (closed) Eiffel Tower. Anybody know what the guy on the left is carrying? Ammo? Grendades??

Terry L

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Terry L
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Oops, will try to figure out why the pic didn't come thru

Any advice on how to include a picture? Pasting didn't work...

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Three States: Warrior, Victim, "It won't happen to me"


I appreciate your thoughts, recommendations and the video you posted on the active shooter situation.

I was reading a novel by a philosophical author who discussed the three states humans can be in:

1.  Warrior

2.  Victim

3.  Denial ("That will never happen to me.")

When an active shooter situation develops, defense #3 collapses in disbelief and shock.  All of a sudden "It can and IS happening to me."  Now we have 2 options, 1) The Warrior, (heroic action) or 2) The Victim (collapsing in incapacity and disbelief and waiting helplessly to see if someone will kill us--which they do at their whim.)

You encourage us to face the shock of this possibility so that The Warrior is an option.

At which point, having one's Glock in a belt holster and a good pair of running shoes are both very handy.

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Denial will get you killed. Respond immediately.

Watch the 15 second video of this apparently mentally ill man who draws a deadly sword inside a Manhattan Apple store and starts swinging it around.  Such a blade is as deadly as a handgun and should have caused everyone in the store to immediately escape from the building.  But look at how nearly everyone just stands around either staring at the guy with the sword or ignoring him.  Then read the witness comments like this:

“His face looked a little contorted and twisted,” she added. “I thought he was doing some sort of performance art, but then he pulls out this sword with a huge 2-foot-long blade and it was dead obvious that it was a real sword.

Customer Luis Apolo, 18, says he at first thought the man was holding a simple stick.

When something horrific happens like an active shooter or terrorism incident, most people will mentally deny what their senses are clearly telling them is happening.  It's too terrible for most minds to accept, at least in the first few seconds or minutes.  That's denial, and the delay it causes will get you killed.  Train your mind to be open to the possibility of terrible things happening to you where you're at, and mentally practice responding immediately.  Play real life scenarios over again in your mind and imagine yourself taking swift, decisive, life-saving action.  Imagine doing what would you do if you had been sitting at that sidewalk table at that Paris cafe when the shooting started.  Imagine doing what you would if you had heard "popping sounds" (gunfire) while in your 3rd floor room at the hotel in Mali.  Imagine doing what you would do if a crazy guy unsheathed a sword inside your Apple store.  Those mental exercises practiced 1-3 times per week will dramatically decrease your denial when the real thing happens and dramatically increase the speed and effectiveness of your real life actions.

And kudos to the unarmed security guards who risked their lives to protect the public and save the crazy guy's life from being shot by you-know-who when they finally arrived.  That was WAY beyond the call of their duty and, frankly, tactically unsound.  But that's what heroes do.  Once again the old adage holds true: "When seconds mean the difference between life and death, the police are only minutes away."

Here's a disturbing video of armed Nicaraguan police attempting to arrest a male armed with a big 10" knife without shooting or killing him.  It doesn't turn out as well as the Apple store incident: one officer is killed and several severely injured. AND they had to shoot the guy to death in the end anyway.  (Warning: graphic)

If you want to be a hero, you have to realize it's a roll of the dice as to the outcome.

And here's a crazy guy with a machete video that has a happy ending in the UK when 30 officers with shields, appropriate training, and plenty of courage take the guy down without shooting him (apparently they have more plastic shields than firearms available to them).  Say what you want but my opinion is this is an unacceptable risk for the good guys (especially the good guys without firearms).

Just go on YouTube and search for machete attacks to open your eyes to how often knife/machete attacks happen and how deadly they are.


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I like the Glock/shoes combo, Sandpuppy.

It sounds like a "Brave Sir Robin" attack.

Brave Sir Robin ran away  (No!)
Bravely ran away away  (I didn't!)
When danger reared its ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled  (No!)
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about  (I didn't!)
And gallantly he chickened out

Bravely taking to his feet  (I never did!)
He beat a very brave retreat  (All lies!)
Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!  (I never!)

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The Band from the Paris attacks speak

The band leader said many died for an inability to leave their friends and for hiding in the band's dressing room where all but 1 were killed after they were trapped by the attackers. Who knows if they could have left the building but decisions about whether to leave injured/dead loved ones are battlefield calls that no one is prepared for imho. Awful.

Tom I appreciate your analysis of this situation. Lots to consider. Situational awareness is so important.



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