RAND Issues Pocket-Edition Terrorism Survival Guides Downloadable for PDAs, Home Printers

For Release

September 15, 2004

Responding to a heightened public concern about the threat of terrorism, the RAND Corporation announced today it is making available a pocket guide designed to arm individuals with the knowledge to identify and survive various types of unconventional terrorist attacks. The guide is based on strategies RAND first outlined in a report last year and includes a single-sheet, foldable reference card for home printers and a downloadable version for Palm handhelds.

“We developed this survival guide to help quell widely-held misconceptions about unconventional terrorist attacks and provide the public with practical guidance at a time of heightened terrorism fears and uncertainty,“ said Lynn E. Davis, the principal author of “Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear and Biological Terrorist Attacks,“ the report on which the guide is based. “Our goal is to make this guidance accessible to more people and give them convenient, effective tools to protect themselves and their families in the event of an attack.“

The guide focuses on simple steps individuals can take to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks with chemical, biological, radiological (“dirty bomb“) and nuclear weapons. The guide contains both preparatory steps and specific response guidance. This includes what individuals will experience, what their goals should be, and what they should do during each type of attack.

Users will need Adobe‘s free Acrobat Reader software to access the printable reference card or a Palm-based handheld running Palm OS version 3.5 or later to access the guide as downloadable software.

The RAND report is available at better bookstores, from the National Book Network (800) 462-6420, or directly from RAND (877) 584-8642 or email orders@rand.org.


Five Misconceptions About Surviving Terrorist Attacks

Gut instinct is a good thing—unless you‘re caught in an unconventional terrorist attack. During a chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological strike, your instincts may put you and those who depend on you in even greater danger.

Lynn Davis, senior analyst at the RAND Corporation and former undersecretary of state for international security, has researched safety in unconventional attacks and uncovered five common misconceptions most people hold about surviving these types of attacks.

Five Misconceptions About Surviving Terrorist Attacks

  • We can‘t help ourselves. Individuals can do a lot to improve their chances of surviving an unconventional attack. All that is needed is for them to take a few simple steps to prepare and respond.
  • Public officials will tell us what to do. In fact, RAND‘s research has found that the dangers will happen so quickly that individuals often must act as the first line of defense in the first critical hours before officials can provide aid. Your ability to assess the situation and respond correctly could keep you safe.
  • Always evacuate. Evacuating is not always the best course of action. Assessing the type of threat should determine if evacuation is necessary. In a biological threat, for example, it‘s better to stay put and wait for advice as to when and where to get medical attention.
  • Always take shelter. Taking shelter is sometimes not the best course of action, either. Assessing the type of threat will help determine the best course of action, including what kind of shelter is required. In an indoor chemical attack, it‘s better to find clean air by opening the windows or leaving the building.
  • All attacks are the same and one strategy works. Unconventional attacks tend to be clumped together—radiological with nuclear, chemical with biological. They‘re all quite different and require individuals to take different actions to survive. There is not a universal response to a terrorist attack. In the first critical hours after an attack, individuals‘ responses have to be specific in order to be effective.

About RAND

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