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Somewhere in the rural Herefordshire hills, the man who blindfolded me is now forcing me up from a kneeling position and into an orange jumpsuit.

I have been warned this might happen and I know it is just a training exercise. Nevertheless it is a gut-wrenching moment — a fleeting realisation of just a fraction of the terror that must be felt by those who undergo this in real life.

This is the final day of my hostile environment training. It is a rite of passage for foreign correspondents; one that most accept with a shrug and muttered queries about how much use it is ever going to be.

Those doubts are enhanced following the kidnap exercise: the climax of the five-day course, which gives training in basic first aid, avoiding danger and the importance, above all else, of running away.

What good is it to have been put through this, I ask, if the lesson to take is not to get into such a situation in the first place?

The answer is threefold, and has stuck with me:

First, tiny actions can save lives. If you are taken captive, for example, try not to be carrying a notebook containing the details, phone numbers and locations of all your sources.

Second, do not panic. One of the main reasons for undergoing scenario training like this, the instructor explains, is that the shock is marginally less if it ever happens in real life, allowing you to think and plan more clearly.

Third, and most important, run away. If there is any chance of escape, take it early, before you are exhausted and while your kidnappers are not yet in control.

Kidnap awareness is just one part of the course. Of more immediate practical use is several hours’ worth of medical training, which could turn out to be useful at any time, even in otherwise benign situations.

The writer is South Asia correspondent for the FT

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