An ex-SAS soldier has revealed some top tips for surviving a terrorist knife attack – including arming yourself with a pint.
Former warrant officer John Geddes, 60, learned the best techniques to thwart ‘active shooter incidents’ during his 14-year career in the elite special forces unit.
The father-of-three said the best tactic is to team up with others and overpower the attacker as a group.
He said a briefcase to the head of an attacker could prove a good move but throwing any liquid – hot or cold – into the face of a terrorist could give you the upper hand.
The expert said a pub garden umbrella could be used as a lance, a stool as a weapon and a coffee in the face could give you time to violently attack.
He said the worst thing to do was to stay on the floor unarmed, and that everyday objects used as a weapon can be the difference between life and death.
The security expert from Hereford said if you are ambushed you should make a “rational not emotion” decision to fight with whatever is close to hand.
The former paratrooper has co-written Be A Hero: The Essential Guide to Active Shooter Incidents which is out in August and has a chapter on how to survive knife attacks.
He said: “They have to become momentarily medieval and fight in a group. You have to pick up whatever is around and throw it.
“You can only run so far and so fast – and for some people that isn’t an option, so you have to fight.
“What you should do depends on how the situation presents itself but for the normal person taking on a knife with your bare hands, they’ve got no chance.
“If you are in a restaurant you’ve got knives, forks, chairs, and bottles. Throw them at the attack and overpower them.
“They bleed the same as you – they are only human.
“Pick up a table with others and throw it at them and follow it up with whatever your club you can find.
“A pint pot – we all know the damage some idiot in the pub can do with that. That’s what people have to do collectively to defeat these perpetrators.
“Cold drinks are good too. Just throw them in his face, especially if they come in a good volume like a beer. Liquid – of any sort – in the face is a big impediment to action.
“For a moment you have to become a group of football hooligans.
“The very worst thing you can do is hide on the floor in the proximity of the attacker.
“If that’s what you do then you are going to be stabbed and shot.
“I heard one example of a man in the London attack talking about how he took them on with bottles and chairs and glasses.
“I suspect with the number of attackers and the number of people who were attacked, it will have happened more than once. People must have fought back.”
John said mass knife attacks are most common in Europe and there was “no reason to doubt” they would increase in frequency.
He advises approaching the terrorist from directly behind and warns you shouldn’t wrap a jacket around your arm for protection because it puts you in a “negative, defensive position”.
Writing in his book he said a computer bag is “heavy and can make a devastating weapon” and if cornered can be used to protect from blows.
From his chapter on knife attacks, he wrote: “When danger threatens, don’t forget it’s there on your shoulder ready to be deployed.
“Use it to keep a knifeman at bay, or if you come from his ‘six’ or flank, smash him on the head with it.”
“Move side to side as you counter the blows aimed at you.
“Avoid moving backward because, sooner or later, you are going to fall over something allowing the attacker to come above you and attack.”
He said a coffee cup is perfect “hurled into the perpetrator’s face” to “scald and blind him” and whenever possible you should “go for the head”.
Table umbrellas make a good lance – “go for the face” – and added one of the most useful weapons in a knife-attack scenario is a chair or stool held out in front.
John, who is a married grandfather-of-five was in the parachute regiment for ten years and then the SAS until he left a warrant officer in 1998.
He now works in private security training.