Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy Situational Awareness Day!

Today is Situational Awareness Day. How will you celebrate? I celebrate by reminding my family what situational awareness is and how to have it.
Situational awareness is nothing more than being aware of one’s surroundings and identifying potential and eminent threats. In other words, keeping your head up. This is more of a mindset than an actual skill to be practiced. It can and should be practiced, but it’s more like muscle memory with shooting, it’s something you learn and do all the time. It’s always there. It can be exercised by anyone with the will and the discipline to do so. Situational awareness is not only important for recognizing terrorist threats, but it also serves to identify criminal behavior and other dangerous situations.
The primary element in establishing this mindset is first to recognize that threats exist. Ignorance or denial of a threat make a person's chances of quickly recognizing an emerging threat and avoiding it highly unlikely. Bad things do happen. Apathy, denial and complacency can be deadly.
A second important element of the proper mindset is understanding the need to take responsibility for one's own security. The resources of any government are finite and the authorities simply cannot be everywhere and cannot stop every potential terrorist attack or other criminal action. The same principle applies to private security at businesses, schools, or other institutions, like places of worship. Therefore, people need to look out for themselves and their neighbors.
Another important facet of this mindset is learning to trust your "gut" or intuition. Often in the LDS church we refer to this as the Spirit guiding you. You should do all that you can to ensure you have the Spirit to guide your everyday lives. Many times a person's subconscious can notice subtle signs of danger that the conscious mind has difficulty quantifying or articulating. Ever see an interview with a victims who experienced such feelings of danger prior to an incident but who chose to ignore them? Trusting your “gut” and avoiding a potentially dangerous situation may cause you a bit of inconvenience, but ignoring such feelings can lead to serious trouble.
People typically operate on four distinct levels of awareness. There are many ways to describe these levels. Cooper explains a simple system to differentiate states of mindset:
• White - Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared. If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "Oh my gosh! This can't be happening to me."
• Yellow - Relaxed alertness. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself." There is no specific threat but you are aware that the world is an unfriendly place and that you are prepared to do something if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and your carriage says "I am alert." You don't have to be armed in this state but if you are armed you should be in yellow. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "I thought this might happen someday." You cannot live in this state indefinitely, sleep and concentrating on specific tasks (reading a good book) reset you to White.
• Orange - Specific alert. Something not quite right has gotten your attention and you shift your primary focus to that thing. Something is "wrong" with a person or object. Your mindset is that "I may have to shoot that person." In orange you set a fight trigger: "If that goblin does "x", I will need to "stop" them." You check that you are prepared for action. Your pistol is usually holstered in this state.
• Red - The fight trigger has happened. You are now in action.
Some non-Cooper sources list a "Condition Black" as actively engaged in combat but this is an unnecessary step and is not in keeping with the mindset definitions.
It is critical to stress here that situational awareness does not mean being paranoid or obsessively concerned about security. In fact, people simply cannot operate in Orange for extended periods, and Red can be maintained only for very brief periods before exhaustion sets in. The "fight-or-flight" response can be very helpful if it can be controlled. When it gets out of control, however, a constant stream of adrenaline and stress is simply not healthy for the body and mind, and this also hampers security. Therefore, operating constantly in a state of high alert is not the answer, nor is operating for prolonged periods in a state of focused alert, which can also be demanding and completely exhausting. The human body was simply not designed to operate under constant stress. All people, even highly skilled operators, require time to rest and recover.
Yellow is a good, reasonable place to be. I can remember having little kids and if you weren’t in yellow with them they could be away from you in a second headed for danger or hiding in a clothes rack at Walmart scaring you to death! If it can be done with children, then it should be a small step to your own security.
On this Situational Awareness Day I remind you again about the importance of staying in Yellow and providing your own security. When seconds count, the police are minutes away. Have a plan. Work this plan and practice this plan. Code words and preconceived actions will keep you and your family safe.
Happy SA Day!
Semper Paratus
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