Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hostage Part 3

Well, we've talked about avoiding a hostage situation, but what if the worst happens and you end up being taken? How are you going to survive?

According to Cameron Gamble, a veteran instructor of the Air Force SERE (Search, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) school, you need to put yourself through a 3-phase situational assessment process to avoid what he calls capture shock. The assessment goes like this: try to determine 1) who has me? 2) what do they want? and 3) how far are they willing to go to get it?

If your captors are local punks out for some kicks by stealing your car for a joy ride, that's a different scenario than if you are carjacked by a bunch of armed bank robbers on the run from police. So first figure out who the captors are, what they want and how far you think they're willing to go to get it. That will help you determine your course of action.

Randy Spivy conducted hostage survival training for Department of Defense personnel. He also promotes a 3-stage strategy, based on the letter C — calm, connect, and capitalize. To quote him, "You want to be a calming influence, maintain our composure, and don't do anything to escalate the tension. If they say don't look at them, don't look at them." As the hostage crisis wears on, the captors might become bored and receptive enough for you to try the next two steps — connecting and capitalizing. Connecting means that you make yourself appear as a person, not an object. See if you can find some common interest to talk about with your captors — your family, recreational activities, hobbies. By doing this, you're engaging in a reverse Stockholm Syndrome, making yourself appear to be likable. Hopefully, they won't injure or kill you if they like you as a person. The capitalize phase is when you encourage your captors to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Express your confidence that everything is going to work out okay. Topics to avoid are religion, politics and economics, unless you are positive that you can connect with the captors by agreeing with them on those subjects.

When it comes to physically engaging the enemy, you need to be sure you have an absolutely clear motive. If they're holding a gun to your wife's head and you know for certain they're going to pull the trigger, that's when you have no choice. If you fight back and your wife is killed, the outcome is no worse than if you had just sat there and watched her die without lifting a finger.

In a hostage crisis, there may be a time to fight, or it may be better to keep everything calm by cooperating with the captors. You need to assess the situation and figure out what to do and when to do it. Make the right choices and you might live. Make the wrong ones, and people are probably going to die.

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