John Geddes

Be a Hero: The Essential Guide to Active Shooter Incidents

It’s never going to be you is it? You’re walking to work through a London street, sipping coffee in a Mumbai hotel or a Paris cafe. Maybe you’re in the crowd at a marathon in Boston or checking in luggage at Brussels airport.  And then the gates of hell open.

Windows implode, the physical impact of shock waves strike you as a device explodes nearby. Whether you survive a bomb blast or not is a complete lottery.

Then you hear the metallic rattle of automatic gunfire coming towards you. Terror takes its hold.  Assuming you’re not already a casualty what do you do next? Which way do you turn? And who can you turn to?

In military terms you’ve been ambushed but you’re a civilian. You’ve had none of the training that kicks in automatically when a soldier comes under attack. 

Shock, fear and hysteria will take over. You will not be prepared for decision-making but you’ll be faced with life or death choices as an active shooter picks victims at random.

I can help you. My name is John Geddes and I’ve written this guide to help you survive.  It’s designed as an aide for civilians in the event they are drawn into the chaos and terror of an active shooter event.

I’ve drawn on my long experience as a Special Air Service warrant officer on active duty alongside other elite troops including US Delta Force. 

I learnt more when I left the military to pursue a career protecting TV crews, diplomats and businessmen on perilous journeys into the insurgency and jihad of Iraq, Afghan and Africa. 

Over the years I’ve briefed hundreds of clients on how to react when danger presents.  I can brief you too on how best to control the inevitable panic. I’ll equip you to make lucid decisions in the midst of utter confusion and chaos.  

It seems barely a week goes by without some new outrage unfolding on our televisions screens and the numbers are increasing at a frantic rate. 

The facts on this are stark. In 2010 fifteen terrorist attacks outside war zones were recorded worldwide. By 2015 the numbers had rocketed to one hundred and eighteen separate atrocities. In the first three months of 2016 alone there had been twenty-five including the destabilising attacks on Brussels.

On average there are twenty mass shootings every year in the United States; devastating incidents which usually last no more than twenty minutes.

In this way countless thousands around the globe have been affected by situations of extreme danger played out in otherwise everyday settings and there’s no sign it will abate.   

This book represents a common sense approach to a global epidemic of violent attacks on our society. People should be prepared for the worst in a world at war. 

That’s why I’ve drawn on my experiences to write this indispensable guide to the unacceptable realities of modern life. My aim is to underpin your daily lives in threatening times by giving you the knowledge to come out safely out on the other side.  

The title, ‘Be a Hero’ reflects the truth. You can be a hero by simply keeping your head while others panic. You can be a hero by offering emergency medical help at the scene. 

You don’t have to take on an active shooter to be a hero but you are a hero if you do.  Simply making a decision in the face such danger is courageous. Being decisive is being heroic. 

At the core of what I have to say lies an inalienable truth. It’s this. We are not sheep. We do not have to wait to be slaughtered. We can act to protect ourselves. 

Given good fortune, a brave heart and the glimmer of an opportunity the skills you learn in this book could help you stop an active shooter in his tracks. 

God forbid you should ever need these skills. If you do then I hope you’ll be a hero.


John Geddes
April 2016.