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You are the hostage. Escape options

1929 Views 16 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Glenn Bartley
Although highly unlikely, there is always a chance that one of us or our loved ones could be taken hostage either by a terrorist or more likely a criminal type. Tried using Google for information about this topic but came up dry. It seems that keeping calm and watching closely for any chance to escape would be wise as would the use of deadly force.

This could be an interesting topic if those with law enforcement or military experience would offer thoughts on their personal training and the mindset/philosophy/techniques taught.

Please feel free to speak your mind.

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There is so much to this topic Rika that I could post a literal library here. I can give you some pointers but experience and training in this area is paramount if you really want to become familiarized with how to survive a hostage experience. SMTC offers the best SERE and HRP courses in the world outside of the military. If you take these two courses, your odds of survival go up almost 90%.

As to touching on this... Keep a low profile, don't bring attention to yourself, if there are multiple hostages, keep to the center of them if possible. Don't dog eye your captures and act submissive. Don't try to escape if you don't think you'll make it. Plan carefully and think before you act. Also, take note of how many bad guys there are, what kind of weapons, and what their background is. See if they are creating the situation due to strife, religion, or what have you.

And the most important thing of all, if the good guys bust in to save you, the first and only thing you do is go prone with your hands behind your head.

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Well, I guess the first thing to consider is how far are you willing to go to escape?

If there are any avenues to exploit, any holes in their system, I guess that would be up to the individual to assess his or her chances for using it.

One thing that has worked in the past... the old saying "if you can't beat em, join em." That's what I meant by the first question. If you use the psychological phenomenon of a hostage bonding and sympathizing with the hostage takers to your advantage, maybe they will want converts to their cause? One of the theories about the leader of the schoolyard seige in Russia was that he was a former police officer and was kidnapped by the chechens, threatened with death but joined their cause and became brainwashed. Maybe he orchestrated the whole thing. Also, the Marine that was kidnapped in Iraq, played on his Islamic faith and was released... who knows?

Another part of me has to wonder about stuff like the kidnappings and subsequent beheadings in Iraq. Wonder if the hostages were totally complacent... even right before they were offed, maybe they were told "just make your statement, we'll act like we're going to kill you but we won't" and they were lulled into submission.

But there was also the contracted truck driver that assessed his situation, heard the US military convoy outside and figured his captor split, he ended up escaping with his life.

tough call

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You really need to frame the scenario better. (good timing btw, as I will be playing the part of a hostage this weekend for a swat training exercise...)

Hostage where?
By whom?

For example, you're at the mall, and a robery goes bad. Even though you are armed and have a CCW, with muliple bad guys and lot's of civilians, you may not be able to use your weapon. You could walk around the corner and find a shotgun in your face.

Or a McDonalds for that matter. GK, you really don't understand how quickly and without warning some of these events can unfold. (you could even be taken hostage as you leave a meeting with your parole officer.)

You could be on a bus, at a movie, grocery store, bank, etc. While the odds are low, this still more likely than being a hostage in shtf. It's not a matter of screwing up, it's a matter of wrong place wrong time.

We did a huge exercise last year where we used a large shopping mall after hours. All the area swat teams were involved. We had about 250 people to act as shoppers in the mall. Everything from terrorists to botched jewlery store robberies was gamed.

In more than one scenario, most or all of the hostages were killed. This is why they practice and actually work through the scenarios. It may sound good, but until you actually try it, you have no idea of what really works or not.

For the record, it's a lot more fun in the scenarios being the bad guy than it is being a hostage...I got to be a "sleeper" for one of the scenarios. Although I did ultimately get killed, I at least had the satisfaction of taking out one swat team member with a knife. He learned a very valuable lesson, maybe it will keep him alive one day.

Nothing gets your attention more than having a knife come up through your inner thigh and then accross your arm and neck. It's a real simple move from a sitting position holding the knife in the "earth" position (blade down, cutting edge out). Basically as you rise, the blade sweeps the inner thigh severing the artery, then you make a simple "z" motion taking the blad accross the arm in one direction and the throat in the other.

Of course everyone arround me opened up on me once they realized what was happening.

Now, back to topic - why not post a couple of scenarios?

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Please see scenarios in my answer to 223 fan in his "U screwed up" post. I should have placed them here but just didn't. Sorry.

Krept, I really like your comments about the men who were taken hostage and later beheaded in Iraq. None of the news media has ever mentioned whether they were armed (though I assume they were). Although its possible for anybody to get blindsided, I would think that it would be so much harder in a place where kidnappings are common. I think that I would be on 3rd level orange alert all the time and try to have 1 or 2 other people with me as much as possible. If captured I would do absolutely anything necessary to kill my captors and get free because I would figure my days of living were numbered regardless of what they promised.

When talking with the captors, stick with the standard advice of avoiding "religion, politics and sex", last thing you want is to start an argument. Stick with safe subjects and try to make yourself appear human to them instead of "just a...(add your hated group here)", ie talk of family, pets, homelife - still avoiding subjects that may be touchy.
Sorry, all the training I went through was pre 9-11, so it was, "Shut up, stay alive and hit the ground when the cavalry comes to the rescue".
There is not a scenario you can cite here that will cause someone to give the same definitive course of action to take each time it happens. Of course there is a type of scenario you can bring up in which you should virtually always respond with action - the scenario is that the bad guys have started killing or are obviously about to kill. In that scenario it is time to act with deadly force if you are a law enforcement officer. Sadly this does not always take place. Law enforcement officers have been known to hide their creds and guns in such situations hoping to be left alive, but once the killing begins or is imminent it is time to act.

As far as escape goes, and LEO taken hostage with other hostages has a tough choice to make about escape if it is likely he/she will be the lone person to get out. The LEO may decide that he has seen enough to give extremely valuable intelligence to other officers who are on the outside, or the officer may decide that he or she has an obligation to remain inside and try to prevent any killing as best possible.

If you suddenly found yourself in a scenario like the diner scene in the movie Pulp Fiction, what would you do? There is a scenario that is quite possible, and in fact has taken place. As an armed person or LEO you may decide to immediately try to take out the two assailants; but what if there was six of them. What would you do. Now make that a bit more complex. The six assailants who are all armed with firearms, start robbing the people and making them empty pockets then stand up for a quick pat to see if they withheld anything. You are at your table far away in the corner. You are armed and you are a credentialed LEO. What do you do?

To make it worse, you are sitting their with two other officers, who just hid their credentials and their guns in the crack between the seat and seat back in the booth in which you are seated. What do you do?

Or even worse, you are seated there, with your spouse, your daughter and your son; what do you do? What would you do if your 5 year old son suddenly blurts out, hey dad why aren't you arresting them? Are you ready for this type of a situation when all the attention has just focussed on you? (Hopefully you have trained the family to keep quiet and hit the deck if you give the signal.)

Many LEOs refuse to carry off duty because scenes like this can come up and they think themselves and their families better off if they are not armed. I on the other hand believe it better to be armed, and to take action if necessary. I feel this way because if I am unarmed I am totally at the mercy of some dirt bags who may decide that mercy is not something they are doling out today, or who may simply be intent on killing a fat, middle aged guy like me. Of course, I may act, and my actions may be the wrong ones that lead to someone getting hurt or killed. While it would be very difficult to live with I think I could someday comes to terms with the actions I took or even with my decision to take action. I do not think I could live with myself if I did not act and someone was killed or hurt because of my inaction especially when I had planned that inaction in advance of the event even occurring. Bear in mind that inaction on the part of several hundred people helped contribute (not cause or be responsible for but contribute) to the success of the 9/11 hijackers; just as the actions of those on the flight over PA undoubtedly led to the failure of the hijackers on that plane. Their action also quite possibly led to the saving of hundreds if not thousands of other lives, and maybe even to saving of our nation. Those hijackers had banked on compliance, on the herd factor so to speak; they did not figure the herd would strike back though on that one flight as most herd animals are not like water buffalo or elephants - most are like sheep. As soon as the hijackers realized it they put the flight down to earth. Yeah they killed everyone aboard, but their mission a failure thanks to those on that flight who took action in the face of doom. Imagine them having hit the White House and killing hundreds therein!

Who knows what other countries may have done had the White House been destroyed along with the lives of our president, vice president, and other high officials. Remember that the Pentagon had been hit too as had the trade centers. Maybe some countries or other groups of terrorists would have seen that as a sure sign to give us hell. Surely those whimps in Europe would have just pissed their pants if someone else said hey let's send the good old USA a nuke or two. Who knows how we would have reacted, maybe we would have sent out a few ourselves. Another big what if would have been had they actually hijacked the amount of planes they had first planned to hijack. I think the number was about 15. Would the people on later hijacked flights reacted like those over New York and Washington, or would they have been like those over PA?

My point is that is you are in a situation that is resulting in death or which is likely to result in death, then you have an obligation if to no one but your own conscience to act to prevent it. Even if you are certain it means your own death, you have an obligation to prevent the death of thousands of others if it is at all possible. When it is do or die or even do and die, I hope to choose the do part when it means saving so many other lives, and who knows maybe I will crawl out of the carnage with my enemies lying dead around me.

This is all talk on my part, but it is what I keep telling myself, and what I keep volunteering for in my job. No I do not have a death wish. I want to retie when I can. Then I want to live so long that the government will send investigators to see if is really me collecting my pension; but if I have to do the right thing when the SHTF then I hope I have prepared myself well enough to actually do it.

I gotta stop now, because the more I think of this kind of thing the more scared I become. It is not a nice feeling at all to think about such things when the results could be as final as they could be. I have prepared, I have trained, hopefully it has been enough if it ever happens when I am there.
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i know in the marines at least, that hostages [your captured] are non-negotiable,[we don't care] as a gaurd at a nuke storage facitlity anyway. [they are all dieing,in place]

pretty sound advise, from my fellow members.

Glenn -

Liked all your post, and was particularly glad to see the following:

Glenn Bartley said:
...Of course there is a type of scenario you can bring up in which you should virtually always respond with action - the scenario is that the bad guys have started killing or are obviously about to kill. In that scenario it is time to act with deadly force if you are a law enforcement officer...
My wife and I have had this conversation more than once. Restaurant robbery, church robbery during services (happens more often than people realize), whatever; if he's just taking money, I comply. Once he (they) start killing, or herding everyone back to the walk-in cooler (remember the restaurant in Atlanta? Turned out very different than the Lubbock Luby's.), she knows that she and the kids are to be down on the floor right then.

There's a threshold that can't be allowed, after you've sworn an oath. That was hard for her to understand at first; in those situations, my badge doesn't
give me more options than a private citizen. It eliminates some of my options. A private CCW holder has the option of "non-involvement"; for an LEO, (again, once a certain threshold is breached), "non-involvement" can mean criminal charges; not to mention loss of employment, and the civil suits that are a part of the job anyway. Obviously, there's also the moral issue as well; you did take that oath, after all.

My advice to ccw-holders on these general questions always ends up being some variant of, "If you need to protect your life or someone else's, do what you can, and what you believe you have to. If the decision is made to 'do' something, do it hard and fast; that's why they call it 'violence'. But if you're in a situation where you can't win, don't kill yourself in a pointless attempt."

Ramble, ramble, babble, babble..... :)
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how do you KNOW you can't win? unless you take a bullet to the brain, you CAN get a bullet into all of them, and you may well survive, given immediate medical attention, and if that threshold REALLY IS one that 'can't be crossed", then it doesn't MATTER if you die, what matters is you didn't just LET it happen.
There is a very good artical called 'Being the Grey Man'. You can find it on the web if you search. It's about this kind of thing.
223 Fan just made a rather inciteful observation as far as I am concerned.
how do you KNOW you can't win?
Then he made another:
...if that threshold REALLY IS one that 'can't be crossed", then it doesn't MATTER if you die, what matters is you didn't just LET it happen.
I think in other words, he is saying if it is already a no win situation, something where the SHTF already or is about to, and you are about to die either way, then what does it matter if you cannot win!You are about to become history if the bad guys are lining up everyone to execute them (remembering of course that you are one of everyone)!

So, even if the situation has arrived at the point where innocents are being killed (and you are in among those innocents), and you are outnumbered 47 to 1 (bad guys to you being the lone armed person), what would you do? You have 16 in the gun (yes a 9mm), you have two full extra mags (2x15=30). You have 46 rounds. Would you just give up and let them do all those people and just hope to get away in the madness. Of course you would not. Just by taking action and getting as many of the bad guys as you can in a scenario like that you may come out the winner. The shooting may get other intended victims to run, jump out windows, or whatever to save themselves. That may even include them fighting back - even barehanded. Maybe one or two will get a bad guy's gun and actually shoot it at a bad guy. They may figure this is it, do or die.

The bad guys may also figure holy poops, two, or three or four of them are down before they knew what hit us, and many of them may take off, or at least be some disoriented as to let the intended victims fight back or escape. Sure they may become even more determined and all start shooting, but if they were going to shoot anyhow, you bought some time and maybe an escape for you and some of the others. If it is a die or die situation, I am going out fighting, as and has been pointed out, who knows maybe I will survive.

I think it is best to be realistic, but if you are ever in a situation because people are being or about to be killed, especially where you are one of them, then you really have to take action. Remember this if nothing else: You are going to be the winner in any gun fight or tactical situation.
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223 fan said:
how do you KNOW you can't win? . . . and if that threshold REALLY IS one that 'can't be crossed", then it doesn't MATTER if you die, what matters is you didn't just LET it happen.
Die on your feet rather than live (or in this case die) on your knees? I'll second that. No reason to go to the slaughter like good little lemmings like the jews did.

F*ck the victim mentality. If you're gonna die, you're gonna die, take as many of the M-Fers with you as you can.

Better than explaining to God why you died a coward, too scared to even try and help your fellow man out of a deadly situation. If you go down fighting, at least you have the virtue of trying.

I echo what Magnum said.

Maybe I didn't word that well, since y'all seem to disagree with me, yet I don't disagree with anything that's been said since my post.

Also maybe I should have used the word "unnecessary" rather than "pointless"; because in this application, they're basically the same.

For a private citizen ccw-holder especially, there are times when I believe it is better to do nothing. If they're not killing anyone, and you're outnumbered 5 to one, I do believe it's better to not start a gunfight.

If I'm being mugged on the street by some nutjob with a knife or even gun, I'm more likely to start something than if my wife and kids are there and I'm being mugged by seven nutjobs with knives or guns. I suspect that's true of most people, and that's why blanket statements trying to cover one response for all situations are usually flawed.

But that said, if those seven nutjobs start attacking my wife & kids, then that "threshold" I talked about has been crossed, and it's absolutely time to respond in kind. At that point, there's nothing to lose, and potentially the lives of my family to gain (the "risk/benefit" thing I've mentioned before), so it's certainly not a "pointless attempt", it's my only option.

The "pointless attempt" where "you can't win" situation...? Say you're in a restaurant with a large group; a dozen people together at a couple tables pushed together. A half-dozen local hoodlums come in the door with guns, see the large group together, walk to your table & start taking purses. You've got six armed guys covering you from 2-5 feet which means (if we're honest) that "you can't win"; and nobody has been hurt, which (to me, in that scenario) means it's a "pointless (unnecessary) attempt".

If they're shooting, it's not "pointless" to respond in kind, it's your only hope of survival, and you should do whatever is within your power, including lethal force.

If there's only one or maybe two of them with a gun and you can drop him/them, it's no longer a "you can't win" situation.

So when these two factors are both true:

- it's pointless (i.e., unnecessary), AND
- you can't win,

then I say it's better to not start a gunfight; hopefully that clears up what I was talking about.
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I got it now...
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