Apply Stay Safe principles for terrorist attacks

Control Measure Knowledge

If initial attending personnel inadvertently attend an ongoing suspected terrorist attack or marauding terrorist attack (MTA), an appropriate risk assessment should be carried out to determine the tactical mode for initial attending personnel. This should be based on the situational awareness gained on scene, from witnesses or via calls to the fire control room, which may include information about:

  • The type of location involved
  • The location of the incident and the distance to it
  • The presence and number of attackers
  • The attack methodologies
  • The presence and number of people, including casualties
  • The presence or imminent arrival of specialist support, such as armed police officers

For more information refer to Incident command – Select the tactical mode.

If the risk assessment determines the need to adopt a defensive mode of operation, initial attending personnel may need to withdraw to a place of safety and notify the fire control room of their location. In this situation, they should consider if they can assist casualties as they leave the hazard area, including the removal of casualties who are unable to walk. This will need to be a dynamic decision, based on the nature of the threat and an assessment of benefits versus risks, that may take place before zoning is established.

However, if the risk assessment determines it is justified to do so, initial attending personnel should not delay rescuing casualties or carrying out life-saving activities, such as first aid, even if they are non-specialists who have not received multi-agency MTA training, or are not wearing enhanced levels of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Fire and rescue services should consider participating in multi-agency training and exercises to support familiarisation for dealing with terrorist attacks or MTA incidents; this should include specialist and non-specialist operational personnel and fire control personnel.

If there are other emergency services in attendance, the incident commander should attempt to liaise with them to determine if they suspect or know that the incident is a terrorist attack or MTA. Appropriate emergency services channels should be used to communicate with commanders of all responding agencies. The incident commander should request that the fire control room contacts the duty National Inter-agency Liaison Officer (NILO), or equivalent tactical adviser role as detailed in service policies, to provide them with information about the incident.

The incident commander should consider establishing an interim holding area to assist the fire control room with mobilisation to the incident. The location of RVPs and forward command points (FCPs) will be established as part of the multi-agency response. For further information refer to Multi-agency response to terrorist attacks.

Initial attending personnel must consider their own safety and that of other emergency responders and the public when applying the JESIP ‘STAY SAFE’ principles for non-specialist responders, in order to:

  • See
  • Tell
  • Act

The ‘See’ element of the principles contains a list of the observations that can be made, which will assist with developing situational awareness.

The ‘Tell’ element of the principles covers communication, which should ideally use the JESIP M/ETHANE model to provide information about the incident. For fire and rescue service personnel, this includes communicating with the fire control room, to enable them to:

  • Gain an understanding about the location and type of incident, and the hazards present
  • Appropriately control further mobilisation to the incident, considering the location of an interim holding area if established
  • Relay the M/ETHANE information to the other emergency service control rooms
  • Gather information about the numbers and location of personnel involved in the incident; this may need to be provided to the incident commander, NILO or level 3 or 4 commanders
  • Contact the duty NILO, or equivalent tactical adviser role as detailed in service policies, to provide them with information about the incident

Gathering and sharing information about terrorist attacks is essential, and is reliant on the communication systems in use. For more information refer to Incident command – Effective communication.

The ‘Act’ element of the principles contains details of activities that could be carried out by personnel to improve the safety of the public and themselves, such as providing first aid and directing people to safety. The principles also contain details of activities that should be avoided by non-specialist responders.

For their own and others safety, personnel should consider following any advice or instructions provided by the police, either via the fire control room or from on-scene police officers.

The fire control room should determine if any personnel are en route to or attending other incidents in the area, who could become involved. If so, they should immediately notify the commanders of those incidents so that they can consider using alternative access or egress routes to avoid the suspected terrorist attack or MTA.

The fire control room should keep commanders of other nearby incidents updated, so that they can determine the need to carry out a tactical withdrawal of personnel. The fire control room should also notify other fire and rescue service employees who may be working in the area involved, such as inspection or investigation teams, or those providing logistical services. Fire and rescue services should determine the most effective way to communicate with these groups of employees, as a single method, such as Airwave, may not discreetly reach everyone who could be affected.

If firearms may be involved, an interim 500m hazard area should be applied, unless otherwise defined by the incident commander or NILO, and provide details of the hazard area to the fire control room. The fire control room should notify the police about any fire and rescue service resources that are en route to or attending other incidents within the defined hazard area.

If safe to do so, personnel should encourage other people to follow the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) ‘Advice To Stay Safe’, as provided by ProtectUK, to:

  • RUN to a place of safety. This is a far better option than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go then…
  • HIDE It’s better to hide than to confront. Remember to turn your phone to silent and turn off vibrate. Barricade yourself in if you can. Then finally and only when it’s safe to do so…
  • TELL the police by calling 999

Incident commanders should evaluate whether the Run Hide Tell strategy remains valid, or whether an evacuation or shelter in place strategy should be implemented. For more information refer to Operations – Evacuation and shelter.

For further information about survival guidance for a terrorist attack refer to Survival guidance.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions