Conflict Areas & War Zones
Planning, Common Sense & Experience
Since the Napoleonic Wars people have been following armies to report from the forward edge of the battle area. Technology may have changed, but the fundamentals have remained the same, the work is dangerous, exciting and ultimately rewarding. However, common sense and prior planning can make all the difference. Surviving a warzone isn’t rocket science, but approach it with a cavalier “it won’t happen to me” attitude and you can guarantee that you will become the story.
I've been deploying with News Crews for several years and even being prepared sometimes isn’t enough, modern warfare is a constantly evolving and often unpredictable animal. I've seen many become a victim of it, often just through poor judgment and complacency.
Syria is becoming infamous, not because it's another civil war but because for the first time journalists are being actively targeted and used by both sides to discredit the other. The protection offered as a member of the press is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and just looking at the casualty figures on the INSI website shows a clear trend.
The larger networks deploy with armies of staff, equipment and importantly security and medical advisors. I was with a BBC Correspondent outside Bani Walid in Libya during the final assault, even though in a safe area, we were targeted by a sniper pair and the journalist was hit in the chest. Had he been alone it is unlikely he would have survived. Fortunately for him I was his advisor and even more fortunate I am a qualified Paramedic. I was able to stabilise him and get him to a hospital and ultimately organised the Medevac out of the country.
Freelancers very much rely on their own wits and experience, and following the simple guidelines listed on the next page can make all the difference. While not a replacement for a good Hostile Environment Course, a little knowledge can go a long way.