With rising passenger fury, self defence is more necessary
By Kathryn B. Creedy.
Airline disruptions, airport chaos, and rising societal violence in general have caused a dramatic increase in attacks including air rage, forcing passengers to consider what they must do to protect themselves when faced with an out-of-control passenger on board, or at an airport.
Frederick Reitz, CEO and founder of SAFESky told CARIBAVIA conference attendees that, unless you are trained, the best and safest thing to do is get out of the way, far away from the action.
Perhaps the most important thing to do is plan ahead by thinking about what you would do in a bad situation.
“The most important thing you can do is be situationally aware at all times,” said Reitz. “Keep an eye on things whether it is entering the airport, at the security checkpoint, at the gate or onboard. Also important is ensuring your distractions at these key times are minimized which means putting away valuables, phones or anything else before you get to security so you can observe what is going on about you.
“The minute you see a commotion leave the area, get out of the way because it can escalate rapidly,” Reitz continued, adding 80% of self defence, if you can’t avoid being involved or if the ire is directed at you, is in what you say. “It is important to stay calm and try to de-escalate the situation with calming words.“
Defending Against Attack
If is not possible to move or if you are taken hostage by an unruly passenger, simple techniques can assure the disabling of the perpetrator, accordingto Jiu Jitsu World Champion Aarti Baran, who provided a demonstration on how to neutralize the perpetrator.
In her demonstration, Baran was clasped from behind by the neck. She immediately tried to pull the arm away in a smooth manoeuve.
“Lower your body and push back to make him back up,” she said. “Pushing back gives you more space and puts him off balance. That distracts him enough so you can slip your head from under his arm, take ahold of his wrist and bend his arm up.”
Space, she said. is important. “The first thing is to understand your space. If the space is too confined between you and the assailant, walk back, increase the space because that puts you at an advantage. You have more space to maneuver. If you see an empty seat, make use of it. On the other hand, if you move forward to neutralize the situation you redefine the space they have. The less space they have, the less they can maneuver to attack.”
Baran noted the importance of maintaining your balance and control against the assailant who has captured you, using arms and legs to fight back and putting him at a disadvantage. She also said a key technique is to attack the joints of the assailant – wrists, elbows, knees - because they are much weaker compared to muscles.
“At the outset of the encounter, pull your head back,” said Reitz. “Stand taller, put your hand out and loudly say get away. You don’t ever have to be the victim on an aircraft. Call out orders to get the crew, call 911 if you are not in the air.”
As this demonstration was happening, an audience volunteer who was a bystander sitting a few rows ahead of the altercation, quickly sidled out of the way.
Reitz also addressed the growing problem of sexual assault on board by seat mates. He noted they strike up a conversation, offer to buy a drink and then drug the drink or just keep the liquor coming.
“Then when you are disabled, they quietly attack,” he said. “If you wake up to that situation or your seat mate tries something, you must discreetly say you have to go to the bathroom. Get a flight attendant. I don’t care how full the flight there is always someone who will change seats. Flight attendants often ask burly men or military personnel if they’d change seats after explaining the situation. There are always plenty of volunteers. As important, if you are a passenger observing an assault, immediately get a flight attendant involved.”
These simple tips apply both during travel or any other situation in which you go out in public and are the keys to keeping you safe.