Preparing for a terror attack
New training course aims to equip people with the skills to save lives
HOW would you react if you were caught in a deadly terrorist attack?
It’s a question we’ve probably all asked ourselves when watching distressing footage of another massacre or bombing flash up on our TV screens.
Now you can prepare for such an eventuality during a new course launched by a medical training firm in west London. Code Blue Education (CBE), based in Brentford, claims the one-day workshop is the first of its kind in the UK and – with Britain’s terror threat level set at “severe” by MI5 – is much-needed.
Participants will learn skills like first aid, how to hide from attackers when necessary and how to efficiently information to emergency services.
The training is aimed at staff within organisations where large numbers of people typically gather, making them a possible target for terrorists, like hotels, schools and colleges or shopping relay the centres.
They will learn the theory before being put to the test in role play scenarios simulating incidents like mass shootings and suicide bombings.
CBE director Chantelle Newman says the knowledge gained could equip participants with the skills needed to save someone’s life, for example by applying a tourniquet to stem heavy bleeding before paramedics can reach the wounded.
While she accepts that no amount of training can ever truly prepare you for the shock of being plunged into a killing zone, she says knowing the plan can help quell the inevitable panic.
“With terrorist attacks happening now at any place people gather, it’s important key members of staff are as prepared as possible,” she said.
“We will teach them how to help one another and members of the public, and how to get themselves and others away from danger as quickly as possible.
“They will learn medical techniques which could save people’s lives, such as how to use tourniquets and pressure bandages. Nothing can prepare you fully for a terrorist attack, but it’s important to have a clear idea of what you need to do and how to do it should the worst happen.”
As an example, she cites the shootings on the beach in Tunisia, where 38 people were gunned down in 2015.
She says hotel staff were running around shouting “what should I do?” as the wounded lay dying on the sand.
Had they received training and been given an action plan, she suggests, they may have been better prepared to respond to such a tragedy.
Ms Newman speaks from experience, having tended to victims of numerous attacks in her role as a paramedic partner in South Africa while violence flared around the end of apartheid.
She recounted one particularly harrowing day when she was called to a massacre at King William’s Town Golf Club, where gunmen shot dead four people during a wine tasting event.
She was treating a patient with shrapnel wounds when one of the attackers threw a hand grenade at gas cylinders yards from where she was crouched.
Ms Newman devised the course in conjunction with Dr Richard Cullen, a former Met Police commander who led the response to the IRA mortar attack on Heathrow Airport; and Adrian Heili, a London 7/7 bombings survivor who provided life-saving treatment to victims at Edgware Tube station.
She said it was created following advice from Homeland Security in the US, and with support from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Unit and other security experts in the UK.
In the US, she says, medical staff are now prepared to attend what is known as the “warm zone” at terrorist attacks, where the danger is not as severe as in the “hot zone” but still represents a risk to their safety. This change was introduced following the massacre at