With sev


eral cases in the news about attacks on travellers I was asked the other day by a client of mine if there was anything they could do to help prevent them becoming a victim. They had heard on the radio on the way to the office that as terrorism and violence can be so random there was little if anything that an individual could do to reduce their risk.

Well in part they are correct. If you happen to be the person walking past a car as it explodes there is nothing you can do that’s just fate, being unlucky, gods will, karma or however you choose to label it. However in other situations there is the chance for you to say “not today fate, come back another day, today I am safe”.

Now its important to recognise that you cannot eliminate risk, risk will always exist and be a factor all you can do is attempt to identify and plan how to reduce risk. Its all about understanding and managing risk.

Even if you do nothing there is risk, if you choose to never leave the house ever again that in itself is a risk either from health issues, a house fire or something like an earthquake.

As the main reason this question came up was the recent attacks on train travellers let us consider how we can adjust our chances, or manage the risk we have identified.

The incidents in case were attacks in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and France. None of these would in the past have been areas that most people would mention in the same breath as terrorism or attacks but situations change and you should always be aware of this.

Its important to recognise as members of the public the cause is not important so if its a terrorist attack, an attack due to drink or mental illness or for robbery and theft at the time of the incident it doesn’t matter we just want to make sure its not us that doesn’t make it home that night.

BBC Links to the attacks

Austrian AttackSwiss AttackGerman Axe AttackGerman Knife AttackFrench Gun Attack

Firstly if you have attended one of our training courses, events or webinars and have been using our 3 Step System to Safe Travel then you should have already identified the risks around public transport. If not get in touch and I will personally help you even if you aren’t an organisation with our annual support service.

If we think about our security, spatial awareness and a recognition of the people and layout of structures around us are vital. The recent incidents have involved close proximity weapon attacks such as knives so being in a position that gives you time to react, escape or attempt to protect yourself is crucial.

Where you stand or sit on a less busy journey is an essential element of your security. If you sit with your back to the rest of the carriage how will you know if you are at risk if you can’t see who is behind you.

I suggest you sit with your back to the wall near an exit or door but not with the door straight in front of it.

If you are near an exit you can make a decision on whether to stay on the train or get off. You get a chance to evaluate risks and make a decision although not perfect it is better than other options.

If you sit or stand directly in front of the exit then anyone standing there or getting on doesn’t give you the necessary time to recognise and evaluate the risks. So for example if we consider a knife attacker who gets on and swings at people you would not have the opportunity to react.

If we consider theft instead of attack for a moment, consider that,  just as the automatic doors close they grab your bag and jump off. Much more seriously they grab you and jump off, you are now outside the train with your aggressor with no notice.

Situational awareness and simply being prepared and realising that not everyone is as nice as you is absolutely critical in not being caught like this.