Cerro Coso Community College

Surviving a Hostage Situation

Surviving a Hostage Situation

None of us expect to be taken hostage but the possibility exists. Knowing proven strategies can increase your chances of survival and enhance your wellbeing both during and after captivity.

During a hostage situation, you must make the decision to resist, surrender, or run. A decision to resist, surrender, or run will be driven by many factors.

Examples are:

  • Environmental factors: Where is the location of the hostage situation? Is it in a room/area with limited exits or is in in a room/area with multiple exits.
  • Situational factors: How many hostage takers are involved? How are they armed (guns, knives, bomb, etc.).
  • Personal factors: Do you have the adequate survival skills if escape is necessary? Are you able/willing to fight back if needed?

If taken hostage, it is important you make the transition from victim to survivor.

If you hear or witness a hostage situation:

  • If safe, leave the danger area immediately.
  • Call 911

Be prepared to give the following:

  • Location of incident (classroom, financial aid, counseling, etc.)
  • Number of hostage takers, names, and physical description (race, gender, clothing, hair, eyes, etc.)
  • Number, names, and condition of hostages
  • Any weapons or threats made by the hostage taker
  • Your name and phone number

If you are are taken hostage:

  • Remain calm and maintain your composure.
  • Maintain a low-key, unprovocative posture.
  • Eye contact may be regarded as a challenge.
  • Do not antagonize the hostage taker, it could cost your life.
  • Speak normally, do not complain, avoid being belligerent, and comply with all orders.
  • Avoid topics that upset the hostage taker (religion, politics, etc.)
  • Hostages can be considered as expendable objects. Attempt to show your humanity on non-threatening topics so that the hostage taker can identify you as a person.
  • Do not make sudden movements.
  • Observe the hostage taker and try to memorize their physical traits, voice patterns, clothing, or other details that can help provide a description later.
  • Try and stay low to the ground and away from windows if possible.
  • Do not give up hope.

The dos and don’ts during a rescue:

  • Do drop flat. This will allow the rescuers to have a complete visual of the area and gives them the ability to use the appropriate force option.
  • Do remain calm. Most rescues are over within seconds and are successful.
  • Do not move. Movement draws attention and could cause someone to use force on you.
  • Do not attempt to help. Let the rescuers apprehend the hostage taker.
  • Do not say anything or resist. You may be mistaken as a hostage taker. Until your rescuers can confirm you as a hostage, only identify yourself when asked directly and safe to do so.

Links

10 Things You Need To Do If You Are Taken Hostage [medium.com]

Riverside school evacuated due to hostage situation [youtube]

Kern Community College District