Provide survival guidance to people at risk during terrorist attacks

Control Measure Knowledge

This control measure should be read in conjunction with:


Fire control personnel should base the survival guidance they initially give to people at risk during terrorist attacks on ProtectUK advice, which is based on ‘Run Hide Tell’, which offers the best chances of survival.


Running to a place of safety is a far better option than surrendering or attempting to negotiate.

Fire control personnel should advise emergency callers to run to a place of safety – if it is safe for them to do so – based on any credible information that is available about any appropriate locations.

Fire control personnel should advise callers to:

  • Run to safety by the safest route, as quickly as they can
  • Keep as calm as possible
  • Use cover along their escape route if it is available, such as concrete pillars, to reduce the likelihood of them being seen by attackers
  • Insist that other people nearby leave with them but not to let their indecision slow them down
  • Not delay their escape by collecting any personal belongings or filming the incident


If a caller cannot run to safety, fire control personnel should tell them to:

  • Hide
  • Be aware that if they can see the attacker, the attacker may be able to see them; cover from view does not mean you are safe
  • Find cover from gunfire behind substantial brickwork/heavy reinforced walls (bullets can pass through glass, brick, wood and metal)
  • Lock or barricade yourself in, by using furniture for example
  • Continue hiding, even if you are behind a locked door
  • Keep back from the door
  • Be aware of your exits
  • Try not to get trapped
  • Be quiet, and silence and turn off vibrate on your phone


Only prompt emergency callers for more information when it is safe to do so

Emergency callers should be encouraged to share information about the terrorist attack once they are able to do so and providing it does not place them in danger. Information provided by those close to the terrorist attack may influence the integrated multi-agency response plan, including the response of armed police officers.

Arrival of armed police officers

Fire control personnel should tell callers:

  • To follow police officers’ instructions and to:
    • Remain calm
    • Avoid sudden movements that may be considered a threat
    • Keep their hands in view
  • That police officers may:
    • Point guns at you
    • Treat you firmly
    • Question you
    • Be unable to distinguish you from an attacker
  • That police officers will evacuate you when it is safe to do so

Changes to guidance provided by operational personnel and other agencies

As part of the integrated multi-agency response plan, operational personnel and other agencies may give fire control new information or specific instructions to give to callers involved in the terrorist attack, such as a specific location to run to. Fire control personnel must accurately record this information and share it with other fire control personnel, operational personnel, other agencies (unless they were the source of the information) and other assisting emergency controls.

Fire control personnel must have easy access to and be able to understand any changes to survival guidance. Mobilising systems and visual information displays that clearly present this information to fire control personnel are likely to be effective.

Callers requiring urgent medical advice

Every effort should be made to redirect callers requiring first aid advice to ambulance control.

To redirect calls to another emergency service, fire control personnel should follow the process in PECS Code of Practice. Refer to Share information with other agencies: People at risk for more information about the call redirection process.

If it is not possible to redirect a call, fire control personnel should continue to try and contact ambulance control to share all information gathered and request an appropriate ambulance response. If delays in calls being answered are experienced, the use of relevant interoperable hailing groups should be considered.

Attacks involving hazardous materials

In the event of a suspected chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, (explosive) (CBRN(e)) attack, people at risk may require additional survival guidance, which is covered in:

Adaptable provision of guidance

There may be circumstances when survival guidance by may need to be relayed by another person, such as an operator in a translation or relay service, or the caller relaying information to others. Although this will not change the advice they are giving, fire control personnel may need to adapt their emergency call management techniques to, for instance, keep their questions short and allow time for information to be interpreted before asking another question.

During terrorist attacks, fire control personnel are likely to receive emergency calls from or about people at risk who are unable to reach a place of safety or follow advice to stay safe. Fire control personnel should discuss with the caller why they are unable to reach a place of safety and help them identify what options are available to protect them and improve their chances of survival.

Multiple calls

When the volume of calls exceeds the capacity of a fire control’s normal emergency call management capacity, other measures should be considered, such as call redistribution plans. Refer to Implement call redistribution plans for more information.

Accurate and prompt information sharing between other assisting emergency controls, during or in anticipation of multiple call events, develops joint situational awareness. Refer to Share situational awareness with buddy, consortium and other fire and emergency controls during periods of multiple calls and multiple incidents for more information

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions