Working abroad in conflict zones/ war zones and other high-risk environments brings all types of hazards and dangers—a big one is the risk of bombs, IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), artillery strikes and mortar attacks, and other explosive dangers (like fuel trucks that are targets for the bad guys). There are some simple reactive steps you can take to increase the survivability statistics when confronted with one of these immediate violent and kinetic risks.
- Move away from the risk as fast as possible if you are able (this is more akin for an approaching vehicle bomb/ SVBIED or a person with a suicide vest-- essentially an attack you know is coming from the ground or water). For airborne attacks and unknown or surprise factors, see the next points.
- Cover behind a sturdy barricade or inner wall within a structure on the ground floor if you are near proper cover and a defensible or strongly-built building (i.e. concrete or a bunker or fortified connex). If you are able to get into a ground depression or a trench/ ditch or foxhole and not to cover, that is optimal for the circumstances.
- Lay down as flat as you can and as quickly as you can, and cover your head, ears, and face. This will help protect you from shrapnel and blowing out your eardrums apart from mitigating the shockwave on the body.
- Keep your eyes and mouth closed. Depending on the proximity to the blast, it can knock the wind out of you, knock teeth out, and even force your eyes out their sockets based on how powerful and kinetic the blast is. This along with lying flat will help mitigate the shockwave to your organs and keep some positive pressure.
- Once the explosion has happened, stay there for a few moments and do not move immediately, you may have to endure a secondary (another explosion, but a sometimes larger blast than the initial one) or follow up barrages/ attacks from artillery and mortars. If more than a minute passes with no further blasts, get up cautiously, assess your surroundings, and move away from the damage zone as quickly as possible to mitigate risk of armed assault from enemy personnel or building collapse-- on the flipside you may have to stay in the zone for a short time to assist others in escaping or rendering aid, then get out of there if it is safe to.
- Be vocal and call for help. Take charge of the situation for yourself and anyone who needs aid, and make every attempt to call or look for help in the immediate area if it is not completely hostile. There may be a quick reaction force that arrives to assist, or local forces may cordon off the area with a perimeter and provide emergency assistance. Otherwise you may need to call your local embassy for help if you cannot get assistance from locals or military/ police units that may be nearby.
- Have a plan overall, pay attention to emergency operations briefings you may have with protective staff/ personnel, and have some medical equipment easily accessible on your person or nearby. Minutes matter when such a kinetic and traumatic event happens. Stay adaptive, and stay lethal. About the Author: D.J. aka “The Metalhead Mercenary” is a US Army Veteran, Executive/ Close Protection Specialist, Private Sector Analyst and Consultant, general Security Specialist and Federal/ Defense Security Contractor with a combined 21 years of experience, he still currently works in the industry.