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Sudden attack in a public place

Gunman Attacks Defence Ministry in Tallinn

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Warning signs

  • You see people being attacked with a gun, vehicle or any other dangerous means.
  • You see an aggressively inclined and/or armed person.
  • You hear shots or explosions.
  • You receive information about the attack from other people.
  • You hear the sounds indicating that people are panicking or you see panicking people moving away.
  • You see people lying on the ground.

How prepare for a sudden attack

  • Make sure you know the locations of escape routes and fire exits.
  • If available, examine the code of conduct in case of sudden attack at your workplace or educational institution.
  • If a terrorist warning has been issued in the country in which you are staying, avoid crowded places and follow the instructions of authorities.
  • When travelling in a foreign country determine the local emergency number and contacts of the representation of Estonia (See Chapter “Ending up in a crisis situation in a foreign country”).
  • Make clear how to switch your phone quickly to silent mode without vibration.

How to act in case of a sudden attack



  • Move quickly and covertly to a place offering shelter and away from the view of the attacker.
  • If you see a safe route, extricate yourself through it. Use side streets for escaping.
  • Try to avoid escaping with a mass of people and, if possible, choose another direction.
  • Move as far away from the danger as possible.
  • Do not harm other people when escaping.
  • If possible warn and help others without putting yourself in danger.
  • When seeing policemen do not rush towards them, keep your hand up and palms where they can see them. Note that all people are considered a potential threat. Obey police orders.


  • Follow the orders given by the employees of the building and the authorities.
  • Use the stairs, emergency exit or the windows on the first floor for exiting the building.
  • If escaping may place you in greater danger (e.g. the only exits are under the control of the attacker or you cannot find a safe way out), remain where you are and shelter in a room or behind furniture or a wall offering initial protection.


  • If you find shelter in a room, lock the door and move the furnishings inside the room in front of the door.
  • Switch off all lights in the room and keep away from the doors and windows.
  • Once you reach your hiding place, switch your mobile phone to silent mode and switch off the vibration function.
  • Do not reveal your location and do not leave your location before the danger has passed and you have received the respective instructions from the police.


  • When you are far from the imminent danger, call the emergency number 112 and report the event and your location.
  • Warn others about entering the dangerous area.

Worth knowing

  • If you notice a situation, which might indicate the possibility of an attack (e.g. a person with a gun or explosive at a mass event), notify the police immediately by calling the emergency number 112.
  • If you are unsure of whether an attack is taking place, under no circumstances go to check; instead, move away and inform the police.
  • Consider that when preparing and conducting the attack, the attacker proceeds from the usual behaviour of people and masses. Accordingly, in case of danger it is useful to act differently from what is expected (move separately from the masses, avoid the usual escape routes, etc.).
  • Although the danger area must be exited quickly, it is important to remain calm and act in a deliberate manner.
  • In all European Union Member States an emergency call can be made using the number 112.

If the imminent danger of sudden attack is over

  • Follow the orders and safety assessment of local authorities.
  • Follow the media and other information sources which are covering the event.
  • Avoid public transport (buses, trains, trams, the subway, and ships) and crowded places and mass events.
  • If the attack took place in a foreign country, inform your loved ones that you are ok. If you need help, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia at +372 5301 9999 or

What to do in a crisis

Every state does whatever it can to prevent or respond to crisis situations. Still, help will not always reach all people quickly enough because some crises can affect a large part of the population and last for days or even weeks.

Until help arrives and services are resumed, your welfare and that of your loved ones will largely depend on your own preparedness.

The web page “” contains tips on how to get prepared for various types of crisis situations and what to do if there actually is one.

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