Exactly a year and one day ago — on January 15, 2019 — terrorists attacked the Dusit D2 Complex, on 14 Riverside Drive in Westlands, Nairobi. Several people were killed and others injured or suffered trauma and other negative psychological effects.
I was among those who survived the attack. Surprisingly, most of those who worked here never thought such a thing could happen to us. We had this false sense of security — the complex is located out of town, doesn’t have a shopping mall and most of its buildings house small enterprises.
This points to the need for everybody to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times. It does not call for fear but watchful attentiveness so that you do not slip into a false sense of well-being.
But what does this vigilance entail? First of all, we need to report to the authorities any suspicious activity — like bags left unattended or vehicles parked in the middle of the road near a mall or public place. It’s better to report and be wrong than not report and something bad happens. Call the police hotlines. Ensure you know these numbers well and share them.
We also need to be prepared in case you are caught up in a situation. This means being aware of your exit points in every place you go. In case something happens, how will you escape? Where are the fire/emergency exits? Also have a plan of action mapped out in your mind in case of an attack.
The US Department of Homeland Security website outlines what to do in case of an active shooter situation: Run, hide, fight. Run from the scene as fast as possible, leaving all your belongings behind. If this is not possible, hide in a shelter on sight and keep your mobile phones silent while blocking the entry to your hiding place.
The third is a last resort, to be used if your life is in imminent danger: Fight the attacker with everything you have.
In addition, after such occurrences, we need to support survivors and their families. Those who lost loved ones or were injured or traumatised need our care and support.
Healing from the trauma is a long-term process as the effects linger for a long time. We tend to show concern during and shortly after an attack but then quickly move on to other trending topics. That should not be the case.
In addition, neighbours, friends and family need to be considerate when discussing this issue and avoid re-traumatising the survivors by, for example, asking them to re-enact the event over and over.
The government should set up a special fund to support survivors of terrorist attacks, floods, landslides and other such disasters. In Australia, such a fund has been set up for the bushfire victims to help them to rebuild their homes.
The survivors of terrorist attacks also need support as some lost their breadwinners while others were injured and have been left with huge and long-term medical bills. A revolving fund can be set up to receive and manage donations.
Let us always remember and support the survivors of such attacks and remain vigilant and alert. As it is said, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”.
Mr Ng’eno is a communication officer at the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA). [email protected]
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