Industry News > [National Post] What to do when you're caught up in violence while travelling

[National Post] What to do when you're caught up in violence while travelling

posted on 9:23 AM, October 4, 2017

Dozens of people, including two Canadians, were killed and hundreds of others were injured in a mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival over the weekend. The horrific attack may leave some with questions about how to best react if caught up in such violence. Experts offer their advice on what to do to avoid getting overwhelmed in moments of chaos.


Mark Pugash, director of corporate communications with the Toronto Police, said that while he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the massacre in Las Vegas, police services do have general guidelines for what to do in so-called “active shooter situations.”

“Our advice generally is to clear the area as quickly as you can. If that is not an option, then hide. And in the very worst situation, which we would expect to be exceedingly rare, you have to remember that if the object of the person is to kill, then you may well have to fight for your life.”

Pugash stressed, however, that it would be exceedingly rare for a person to need to fight back during such a situation. 

Robin Cox, program head of the disaster and emergency management graduate programs at Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C., said that when a person is in an emergency situation such as the one in Las Vegas, it can be natural for them to freeze up.

To try and avoid that situation, she recommended preparing for the worst ahead of time, the way people review safety procedures whenever they travel on an airplane.

“In this day and age, without dwelling and operating from a place of fear, but rather from a place of preparedness, whenever you’re going to a concert or anywhere where there’s a large gathering, it’s important to think about where the exits are and how you would get there from where you’re located. That kind of mental rehearsal or preparation is what will help.”


The federal government recommends Canadians abroad contact friends and family as soon as possible after dangerous situations, even if they haven’t been affected by it.

It also suggests leaving the area on a commercial flight or bus if it is safe to do so, monitoring local news and following the advice of local authorities.

All Canadians are eligible for consular assistance in the case of an emergency. The government can help Canadians depart to the nearest safe haven, communicate with families back in Canada, or try to put Canadians in touch with their families.

Canadians can also register themselves with the federal government when they travel abroad, and officials will send them instructions on how to prepare for and what to do during emergencies.


The Canadian government can help in a medical emergency by providing a list of local doctors and hospitals, but notes that it won’t pay citizens’ medical expenses. It recommends that people buy travel insurance before leaving the country.

Will McAleer, president of the Travel Health Insurance Agency of Canada, said people who are insured should keep their policy number and emergency response number with them. That way, the insurance company can help guide the traveller through the process.


Cox noted that these situations are traumatic, so even once people are out of immediate danger, there are steps they can take to deal with what happened.

She said people should remind themselves to breathe, and tell themselves they are safe. She said people should also reach out to loved ones who can act as a support network, and talk to a professional to help process what happened.

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