If you find yourself in a scenario where you need to evacuate a building with a real threat or danger posed to your safety, then you need to do so tactically, following these basic, lifesaving, procedures.
For the purpose of this article, we are not interested in conventional SWAT tactics as it is not our job to apprehend, or even nullify, the threat; your job is to look after yourself, your family, or your client. It’s a fact that law enforcement SWAT tactics don’t work against criminals and terrorists who know how to defend buildings, so conventional law enforcement SWAT training is something you can forget in this scenario.
If you have to evacuate your home, office, hotel, or shopping mall, for whatever reason, it needs to be done quickly, quietly and with the minimum of fuss. You should always know where your escape routes and exits are but never use obvious ones as the criminals or terrorists will have thought of these and may have blocked, booby-trapped, or prepared ambushes on them. If there is an incident going on get as much information as possible as to where the threat is, and what is happening, and then start moving away from it using cover.
If you have to walk down corridors, keep low and move fast, do not walk down the center of the passage, but also, stay off the walls. Get in a couple of feet from the wall to avoid being hit by any ricocheting bullets or wall fragments that could harm you if you suddenly come under effective fire.
Always be scanning for improvised cover, even in a seemingly empty corridor, look for things that could be used as shelter; doorways and frames can provide good cover. Speed is of the essence but taking a second to plan your next bound is time well spent.
Check behind you continuously; it’s easy to get tunnel-vision and too focused in on the direction you’re traveling. And if you must stop, do not stand up, adopt a kneeling position. Always be aware of where you are casting shadows and avoid giving away your location before looking around a corner.
If you are moving as a group keep good spacing between everyone and stagger your positions; you do not want to bunch up. Remember; one bullet can go through multiple people, and large groups of people make easier targets to shoot at than lone individuals. If you’re dealing with criminals or terrorists, then improvised pipe bombs or hand grenades could be a credible threat. One of these devices has the potential to take out the whole group if you are close together. Why SWAT teams bunch up is beyond my ability to explain; I’ve heard reasons ranging from, having better arcs of fire, to moral support for team members; I only hope they never have to deal with professional criminals or organized terrorists!
Going into rooms through doorways is very dangerous and best avoided; where possible, windows make for a better option. Doorways are channels that are easy for a criminal or terrorist to cover with fire or booby-traps. Before you go near a door, first consider if the wall around it could stop a bullet, if a gunman inside were to hear you, or saw your shadow under the door, and started shooting. If you must go through a doorway, try to determine if there are any threats on the other side before you enter. Don’t just rush ahead, pause and tune in to your senses, do you hear anything? Most people cannot keep quiet for any length of time.
When opening a door, you will need to consider if the door opens inwards, outwards, and also, where is the handle located. Remember to avoid casting shadows that will give your location away before you enter a room. When you open a door do so from the side, never stand in front of a door, open it quickly and move away in case it’s booby-trapped. If there anyone in the room they will likely start shooting towards the door and at the surrounding walls. If you must go through a doorway, then keep low and move fast and when you’re in the room quickly get behind some hard cover, do not hang around in the doorway!
You cannot learn room entry techniques by reading about them, so all I’ll say in summary is practice your drills and SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) routinely and remember when evacuating a building you must keep a cool head as you might not be the only person doing so. If you are armed, you should never draw your handgun unless the threat is imminent. If you draw your handgun in an evacuation scenario, you could cause further panic and also expose yourself to being mistaken as the source of the threat, by law enforcement personnel, and shot at as a consequence. And finally, when you are clear of the building, get well out of the area and inform law enforcement, ASAP.
Evacuating and Moving Through Buildings Tactically
By: Orlando Wilson
Orlando Wilson has worked in the security industry internationally for over 25 years. He has become accustomed to the types of complications that can occur, when dealing with international law enforcement agencies, organized criminal and Mafia groups. He is the chief consultant for Risks Inc. and based in Miami but spends much of his time traveling and providing a wide range of kidnapping prevention and tactical training services to private and government clients.