In the absence of a predetermined action in case of an emergency, 538 people panicked and died. Tenerife changed how airline personnel talk to new passengers...that's why we get the lecture on finding the closest exit, lights leading to the exit, etc.
Anyway, what I turned up was a 1998 analysis revisiting the human factors involved in the crash in the Journal of Air Transportation Worldwide. Okay...by now you're thinking that I've drifted off into Lost territory...but there's a good reason. Here's one of their key points:
Weick (1993) theorized that the key to understanding Tenerife may lie in the principle of stress causing regression to first learned responses. This means that in stressful situations, people regress or behave in ways or patterns they learned first.Moreover, the paper quotes the following from on A.L. George, writing in 1986, on the impact of crisis-induced stress on decision-making, specifically in reference to the medical implications of nuclear war (something I suppose we'll be thinking about again, a lot sooner than we'd like):
George (1986, p. 542) outlined the following specific effects of stress on the performance of complex tasks:
1) Impaired attention and perception
a) Important aspects of the situation may escape scrutiny
b) Conflicting values and interest may be overlooked
c) Range of perceived alternatives is likely to narrow, but not necessarily to the best option
d) Search for relevant options tend to be dominated by past experience; the tendency to fall back on familiar solutions that have worked in the past, whether or not they are appropriate to present situations
2) Increased cognitive rigidity
a) Impaired ability to improvise; reduced creativity
b) Reduced receptivity to information that challenges existing beliefs
c) Increased stereotypic thinking
d) Reduced tolerance for ambiguity leading to cutoff of information search and premature decision
3) Shortened and narrowed perspective
a) Less attention to longer range considerations and consequences of actions
b) Less attention to side effects of options
4) Shifting the burden to the opponent (another)
a) Belief that one’s options are quite limited
b) Belief that the opponent (another) has it within his power to prevent impending disaster
Read the whole thing, keeping in mind how the factors described in this paper might be in place in civilian self-defense or active shooter/terrorist situation. Look especially at Point 1(d): Search for relevant options tend to be dominated by past experience; the tendency to fall back on familiar solutions that have worked in the past, whether or not they are appropriate to present situations.
Let's say we have spent years perfecting our responses to what we might think of as "most likely" self-defense threats, that is, we are able to easily access our concealed carry weapon and quickly deliver 2 or more shots center mass at reasonable self-defense distances. That is our "default," in the words of the paper references above, a "familiar solution.' We've trained for it; we've integrated into our mental index card file.
Now, what is the blast radius for suicide belt or vest? Well, it depends on the type and amount of explosive used, but here's some food for thought from Greg Ellifritz, who has become one of the most knowledgeable people on understanding the emerging threat:
Time, distance, and shielding are the only defense. Realize that a 20lb suicide bomb vest loaded with shrapnel is dangerous within 400 meters. That’s a long distance! Recent research has determined that 15 meters (about 50 feet) is the distance that means the difference between life and death in most suicide bombing incidents. If you are within 15 meters of the bomber when he detonates, you will likely die. If you are beyond 15 meters, you will likely live, but may be seriously injured. Ultimately, whether you live or die depends on the terrain, the type of bomb and shrapnel and how far away from the bomb you are. The farther away you can get, the better off you will be. Ideally, distance combined with some type of cover that will stop shrapnel and projectiles is best. For the 500kg Oslo car bomb, people were likely hit by shrapnel up to 1/2 mile away!So in the event of a fully rigged bomb built to ISIS' specs, you'll need to be 4 1/3 football fields away to not come down with a really bad case of dead from those center mass shots. Ellifritz goes on to say:
I will say this…if you decide to shoot the bomber, you must expect to die. Remember that danger zone of 400 meters I talked about earlier? How many of you can make a head shot at 400 meters with your concealed carry pistol? If you can’t, you are in the kill zone. If the bomber detonates you may be seriously injured or killed. By definition, if you are close enough to take a shot, you are going to be within range of the bomb’s blast. If you do shoot the bomber, you must go for a head shot. If he is wearing a bomb vest, your bullet will likely detonate the bomb if you hit it.I have heard this truth repeatedly in the last month as I interviewed experts. Like many of us, I've had the "Mozambique," which originated with Col Cooper, or in its more politically correct definition, the "failure drill," hammered into my head since I first began training so many years ago...two in the belly; one in the head; I'm alive, and you're dead! goes the verse. But that drill comes from a time when the bad guy didn't blow up.
Over the years, I have seen a marked move away from the head shot...remember, on the standard USPSA target the "head" was often referred to with the more politically correct "upper 'B' zone." I audited a few days a of a class a couple of years back where the instructor went to great lengths to suggest that a "mobility stop," that is, a shot in the pelvic area that took the aggressor to the ground, was far superior to the head shot. The rationale is the head, especially a moving head, can be a hard target to hit.
A mobility stop might make a lot of sense with a knife-welding mugger; less so for an attacker armed with a gun. Just because you knock somebody down and cause them a lot of pain doesn't mean they can't still shoot you (unless the mobility stop is followed very quickly my a shot on the now much more stationary head). If the aggressor is in fact wearing a bomb vest, a mobility shot just means you get a couple of seconds more life before the bomb is manually detonated.
That's why trainers like Gabe Suarez, who has been studying these issues for years, has defaulted to the head shot, the central nervous system stop. In fact, Suarez lists 4 compelling reasons why the head becomes the target of choice:
1) Human beings are bigger and stronger today than at any other time in history due to advanced nutrition, the social prevalence of weight lifting and the popularity of contact and martial sports. Any casual perusal of military museums will reveal that the average male was much smaller as close as a couple of generations ago.
2) The prevalence of tactical pharmacology, both legal and illegal is far more common and refined today than in the past. Substances from methamphetamines and cocaine to excessive HGH and similar substances give rise to mental attitudes of invincibility.
3) Proliferation of body armor. While ammunition has progressed dramatically in the last decade, so has the availability of protection from that ammunition. Today the technology of body armor has developed to the point that even an assault rifle may be defeated. Armor has always been common, and even back in 1991, one of my gunfights involved armored suspects.
4) Finally, the reality of today shows that the adversary might be a Jihadist, or other terrorist, and not just the uneducated urban sloth seeking to take your watch at point of stolen pistol. At the time of this writing, ISIS is exhorting its followers around the world to carry the jihad to every western shore. As well, any cursory study of Active Shooter events around the nation reveals that in a great percentage, there are explosives on or near the terrorist, ready to be detonated when capture or defeat is at hand.
So what's the net-net to all this for the armed civilian? I go back to my previous post — the majority of your training is focused on self-defense, what we can refer to as the known threat. But a portion of your training has to be focused on the unknown threat that takes you outside the realm of what we have considered defensive shooting.
On the podcast I asked a simple question — can you reliably hit a 25-yard head shot with the pistol you're carrying every day? I honestly have to work at, and it's one of the reasons I decided to go, at least for the time being, to a red-dot sight. I accept that I'm giving up a modicum of speed (although I'm working on that as well) for the additional accuracy.
And we come back to Col. Cooper's combat triad — marksmanship, gun-handling and the combat mindset.