THE porch project


October 19, 2017

This was originally a post I wrote back when the Nice terrorist attacks occurred in July of 2016. However, after an active threat scare yesterday on campus, and the recent Las Vegas terrorist attack, I felt compelled to share this article with you all now. 




As a result of the recent terrorist attack in Nice, France, where attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel barreled down the Promenade des Anglais during a Bastille Day celebration, killing 84 civilians and wounding 202, I figured I wasn’t the only one wondering what to do if I were to find myself in a similar tragic situation.


A majority of students in America have experienced some form of a lockdown drill at school; teachers lock their classroom doors, everyone typically finds a safe space in their rooms, turns off their phones, and remains silent. However, what if the “drill” was instead reality and, God forbid, an attacker made it into the classroom?


Or what if you find yourself in a heavily populated square, and you hear gunshots being fired into the air? What if a gunman runs into your movie theater? Or your workplace?


As horrible as it may be to even contemplate being in the middle of a terrorist attack, it is happening everywhere, and too often, terror has no boundaries.


Here are some important common procedures you can follow in the event of an emergency:

What do you do if you are in the vicinity of an active shooter?


On websites such as the FBI’s, you can find helpful information on how to respond in the event of an active shooter. What do the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security primarily recommend? Running, hiding, or fighting.


What happens if someone near you gets shot?


Websites such as and give extensive instructions. Wikihow, for example, divided the article into four parts: Providing Basic First Aid, Assessing the Victim’s Status, Treating a Wound in the Arms or Legs, and Treating a Sucking Chest Wound. From listing the perhaps somewhat obvious steps, such as calling 911 from a safe location to describing the best ways to apply pressure to different wounds, there are a plethora of sources online at your disposal with ample information.


What happens if you are a witness to a nearby bombing?


“According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, bombings accounted for nearly 70 percent of all terrorist attacks in the U.S. and its territories between 1980 and 2001,” says In the event of being a witness to a nearby bombing, the website recommends steps such as:

  • Leaving the area immediately.

  • Avoiding crowds. Crowds of people may be targeted for a second attack.

  • Avoiding unattended cars and trucks. Unattended cars and trucks may contain explosives.

  • Staying away from damaged buildings to avoid falling glass and bricks. You should move at least 10 blocks or 200 yards away from damaged buildings.

What should you do if you successfully escape?


Avoid large groups and resist taking any form of public transportation. According to Ian Reed, a former British soldier, military instructor, and chief executive of the Formative Group security firm interviewed by BBC News, you must “always assume there’s going to be a secondary device or action.” Find the nearest police officer or official if you can, and ask them where to go.


Another important tip from BBC: Avoid returning to the scene at all costs; it will increase the risk of danger for both you and rescue workers.

What if rescue workers are not available to transport you or other injured persons?


Websites such as asks that you do not rely on 911 services (police, fire, EMS, and ambulance) following an attack, due to the fact that they might be severely delayed.

Furthermore, always have a backup plan for transportation. If you can’t get hold of someone nearby for directions, follow reliable news sources (if available).

The website also suggests that you follow (what should be) a safe and familiar emergency disaster plan, whether it’s your family’s, job’s, or school’s. If you don’t know what that is, I would recommend researching or creating one as soon as possible.


Where do you go for care? recommends going to a hospital or clinic away from the event, if possible; hospitals away from the event will be less busy than those nearby.


What can you expect at the hospital?


Unfortunately, the website says there will be long waits, triage, and limited information. While you wait at the hospital, it’s important to remain as patient and calm as possible.


Despite how challenging it may be to think of such events occurring, it never hurts to know more information on how to act in the event of an emergency; the more you know, the better.



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© 2017 by Megan Hill & Caroline Watkins

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