ONE minute you are busy shopping at your local supermarket or you are in the bank and the next thing you know, people are running around bumping and pushing each other as panic fills the air while men with semi-automatic guns are shooting in the air and shouting out commands.
Taking a person or group of people hostage has been around since the Dark Ages, with the aim to use them as leverage to negotiate for money, personal safety, safe passage to another country or even to voice their political objectives. A lesser-known form of hostage taking is gaining momentum however, where the hostage taker only has one goal in mind and that is death to make a statement, as was seen last month in the Westgate Shopping Mall massacre in Kenya.
Fortunately, in most situations the bulk of hostages are released unharmed and fairly quickly.
However, make no mistake, any abduction can turn deadly and whether the victim survives can depend on decisions he or she makes while in captivity.
The most dangerous phase is in the beginning in which the hostage taker is trying to gain control. This is also the best time to escape. Victims need to assess the situation, avoid attention, stay low and head for exits or cover.
If the intruder’s intentions are to detain people or control a facility for negotiation purposes, then the victims need to employ the three Cs.
However if the hostage-taker starts shooting and taking lives you then have one of two choices: you either Port Elizabeth Krav Maga instructor PAUL VOGTS gives La Femme readers advice on a hostage situation escape by all and any means possible or disarm and disable the gunman as quickly as possible with as much force as needed.
Don’t give the intruder an opportunity to fire multiple shots and reload by hiding or playing dead. The three Cs are
Calm: Stay as calm as you can, follow instructions and avoid arguments. When hostages panic, the hostage taker panics and then the situation can escalate beyond the hostage-taker’s control;
Connect: By appearing to empathise (not sympathise) with your captor, you will become a person to them rather than a brokering chip. In some cases, by creating a bond, hostages have reversed the Stockholm syndrome, making captors unwilling to harm their captives. Encourage the negotiation process and keep the focus on outside contact;
Capitalise: While encouraging a negotiated release or some other peaceful conclusion, remain alert to rescue efforts and escape opportunities without putting yourselves or others in danger.
Research indicates that 80% of all hostages worldwide survive their ordeal one way or another.
Resolutions are typically characterised by one of three options, negotiated release, rescue or escape.