Safety and situational awareness

Ennio

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As things continue to heat up given the imminence of dramatic change, be it from economic collapse, environmental catastrophe (or any number of other things in the offing) it seems like one of the most important things we'll need to do is to be acutely aware of our surroundings; including being aware of individuals or groups who do not have our best interests at heart. Actually this may be understating things a bit. There will be a great deal of instability that, as we know, will likely make psychopathic individuals feel freer to do their thing - feeling less likely to be caught amongst all the ensuing chaos (to say nothing of how our governments and military will behave). But there will also be large numbers of people who may feel desperate enough to behave in ways and do things - in order to survive - that they would likely otherwise not be engaged in. In any case, many of us will likely be surrounded by a greater element of danger - no matter where we are - than ever before in our lives.

For these reasons, we simply cannot afford to be dissociative, aloof, or distracted when going to new places - or even going to places we are familiar with. For that matter, we may even want to re-think the relative safety we feel in our own homes and take a bit of time to notice it's and our vulnerabilities.

That said, the following article may be a good jumping off point from which to look at the subject of situational awareness, though I'm sure there's much more out there that bears consideration.

How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne

There’s a scene at the beginning of The Bourne Identity where the film’s protagonist is sitting in a diner, trying to figure out who he is and why he has a bunch of passports and a gun stashed in a safety deposit box. Bourne also notices that he, well, notices things that other people don’t. Watch:


https://youtu.be/IjrWOZby8s8

That superhuman ability to observe his surroundings and make detailed assessments about his environment? It’s not just a trait of top secret operatives; it’s a skill known as situational awareness, and you can possess it too.

As the names implies, situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice. And while it is taught to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and yes, government-trained assassins, it’s an important skill for civilians to learn as well. In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe.

But it’s also a skill that can and should be developed for reasons outside of personal defense and safety. Situational awareness is really just another word for mindfulness, and developing mine has made me more cognizant of what’s going on around me and more present in my daily activities, which in turn has helped me make better decisions in all aspects of my life.

I’ve spent months researching and talking to experts in the tactical field about the nature of situational awareness, and below you’ll find one of the most complete primers out there on how to gain this important skill. While the focus is primarily on developing your situational awareness to prevent or survive a violent attack, the principles discussed can also help hone your powers of observation in all areas of your life.

How to Develop Situational Awareness

Many of the resources out there on situational awareness say it can be cultivated by generally keeping tabs on your surroundings — “checking your six” and “keeping your back to the wall.”

This definition isn’t wrong. That’s exactly what situational awareness is: knowing what’s going on by scanning your environment. But I always found this explanation lacking. What exactly am I looking for? How do I know if I’m paying attention to the right things? Are there behaviors or warning signs of an imminent threat that I should know about?

Today we’re going to start by discussing the general principles of increasing your observational abilities, and then dive deeper into situational awareness itself to answer these important questions.

Observe + Orient = Situational Awareness

The thing that helped me finally understand situational awareness was framing it within the OODA Loop. For those of you who haven’t read my in-depth article on this important cognitive tool, here’s the CliffsNotes version:

The OODA Loop is a learning system and decision-making process that was first laid out by Air Force fighter pilot and military strategist John Boyd. The four steps of the OODA Loop are Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. In a head-to-head competition, like air-to-air combat, a violent confrontation in a parking lot, or even political contests, the person who can cycle through the OODA Loop the fastest wins.

Obviously, the Observe step in the loop is what most people associate situational awareness with.

But it’s the second step in the OODA Loop – Orient — that answered my questions about what developing situational awareness actually involves. Orientation tells us what we should look for when we’re observing, and then puts those observations into context so we know what to do with the information.

So Observe + Orient = Situational Awareness.

But how can we become better observers so that we can improve our situational awareness? And how should we orient ourselves so that we observe the right things and understand the context for what we’re seeing?

Observe: Stay in Condition Yellow

In his seminal book, Principles of Personal Defense, gun-fighting expert Jeff Cooper laid out a color code system to help warriors gauge their mindset for combat scenarios. Each color represents a person’s potential state of awareness and focus:

For optimal situational awareness, Cooper recommends that we always stay in Condition Yellow.

Condition Yellow is best described as “relaxed alert.” There’s no specific threat situation, but you have your head up and you’re taking in your surroundings with all your senses. Most people associate situational awareness with just visual stimulation, but you can also learn a lot about a particular scenario from the sounds (or lack thereof) and even smells in the environment.

Even though your senses are slightly heightened in Condition Yellow, it’s also important to stay relaxed. By adopting a calm demeanor, you won’t bring any unnecessary attention to yourself. If you look antsy and your head is swiveling frantically while you scan your surroundings, people are going to notice you. Additionally, staying relaxed ensures that you maintain an open focus, which allows you to take in more information about what’s going on around you. Research shows that when we get nervous or stressed, our attention narrows, causing us to concentrate on just a few things at a time. A narrow focus can therefore cause us to miss important details in our environment.

This is where regular use of Éiriú Eolas comes in big time!

Look up from your smartphone, don’t zone out, open your eyes, ears, and nose, and calmly scan your environment to take in what’s going on.

Besides staying in Condition Yellow, here are a few more tips to improve your observational abilities:

Put yourself in a position for optimal observation. To achieve effective situational awareness, you need to be able to observe as much of your surroundings as possible. Positioning yourself in obstructed spots will inhibit the flow of information coming in. For example, something might be in your way that prevents you from seeing a bad guy enter a theater or restaurant. You also don’t have eyeballs in the back of your head, so you can’t see what’s going on behind you.

So whenever you enter an environment, put yourself in a position that will allow you to see as much as you can. My buddy Mike Seeklander at Shooting Performance recommends finding a place where you can view all or most of the exit points, and that allows you to put your back to the wall. This position readies you to make a quick getaway, and eliminates the possibility of failing to see a threat materialize behind you.

Granted, this isn’t possible in all situations. You don’t have much control as to which table a restaurant hostess seats you at on a busy night, and you’d likely get a lot of strange looks if you stood with your back in a corner while you’re waiting in line at Five Guys. So do your best within the given circumstances. In that busy restaurant, you might not have control of your table location, but you can choose which seat you take. Pick the chair that gives you the best view from your table. When you’re standing in line at a fast food restaurant, just nonchalantly look around and take in the scene.

Hone your observation skills by playing the A-Game. Mike plays a game with his kids called the “A-Game,” or Awareness Game, to help them (and himself) strengthen their observational skills. To play, when you go into a business, make note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entry/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like “How many workers were behind the counter?” “Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?” “What color was his/her shirt?” “How many exits were there?”

It’s fun to play, but more importantly it’s training your kids (and you) to be more mindful of their surroundings.

Master memorization. Another fun activity that will help improve your situational awareness is to practice memorizing things. Bourne knew all the license plate numbers of the cars outside the diner. You can gain this skill by practicing with a deck of cards, or strings of numbers. Here’s a guide on how to gain the ability to memorize anything you want.

Orient: Baselines, Goals, and Action Plans

Being more observant isn’t enough to master situational awareness. You have to know what you’re looking for, and then put that information into context so it has meaning and becomes actionable. That’s where the Orient phase comes into play.

The Orient step provides three things to help us achieve situational awareness: 1) baselines and anomalies for our particular environment, 2) mental models of human behavior we should look for, and 3) plans of action depending on our observations.

Establish a Baseline Wherever You Go

Every environment and person has a baseline. A baseline is what’s “normal” in a given situation, and it will differ from person to person and environment to environment. For example, the baseline at a small coffee shop will usually entail people reading a book or working on their computer or speaking in hushed tones with their friends. The baseline at a rock concert would be loud music and people looking at the stage while either jumping up and down to the music or swaying their bodies to the beat.

We establish baselines so that we can spot anomalies. According to Patrick Van Horne, situational awareness expert, instructor of the Marine Combat Profiling system, and author of Left of Bang, “Anomalies are things that either do not happen and should, or that do happen and shouldn’t.” Anomalies are what direct our attention as we take in our surroundings and what we need to focus on to achieve situational awareness.

So the first step in orienting ourselves is to establish baselines so that we can direct our attention to anomalies. How do we do that on the fly? Van Horne suggests that you mentally ask yourself these questions every time you enter a new environment:

Baseline Questions: What’s going on here? What’s the general mood of the place? What’s the “normal” activity that I should expect here? How do most people behave here most of the time?

Anomaly Question: What would cause someone or something to stand out?

Behavioral Clusters to Look For

Our inability to pay attention to everything all at once makes it impossible to obtain complete situational awareness. The human mind can only handle so much information at a given time. Thus in the domain of personal safety, where things unfold quickly and seconds are often the difference between life and death, how we direct our attention is paramount.

So we need to focus on a few things at a time that provide the most bang for our attentional buck. And we do that, Van Horne argues, by relying on heuristics. Heuristics are quick and dirty problem-solving and decision-making mental shortcuts our minds use to figure things out when minimal information is available and time is limited. Decisions made from heuristics aren’t always perfect, but in the context of your personal safety, they’re usually good enough.

In Left of Bang, Van Horne lays out six domains of human behavior that Marine Combat Profilers use on the battlefield in order to quickly determine whether someone is a friend or foe. To get an idea of what civilians should look for in everyday situations, I interviewed Van Horne for this article. He told me the most important category of clues is what he calls kinesics, an area of behavior that involves people’s conscious and subconscious body language.

Within the domain of kinesics, three clusters of body language are of particular interest for situational awareness. They are: dominance/submissive behavior, comfortable/uncomfortable behavior, and interested/uninterested behavior.

Dominance/submissive behavior. Generally, most people try to get along with others, so for the most part people act in accommodating and submissive ways. Van Horne writes that dominant behavior “is an expression of the limbic system’s fight response” and often manifests itself in “gestures and postures that make a person look larger to intimidate ‘smaller’ individuals into submission.” Smaller vs. bigger here doesn’t just apply to physical size, however, but also relates to relative positions of power.

Because most people get along to get along, dominant behavior often constitutes an anomaly, and the person displaying it deserves more attention. If someone acts in a pushy, authoritative, or overbearing way, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a threat; context matters. You’d expect a boss to act dominant in relation to their employees and the employees to act submissive to their boss, but seeing extreme dominant behavior exhibited by a customer towards an employee isn’t as common. That’s something to keep an eye on.

Comfortable/uncomfortable behavior. Most people are going to look relatively comfortable in most situations. Think about a bus or a subway ride — passengers generally appear pretty relaxed while they stare out the window or read a book. If someone looks uncomfortable, that’s an anomaly that warrants extra attention, but it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a threat. They could be distressed because they’re late for work or maybe they just heard some bad news about a relative. Again, it’s just something to keep your eye on.

Van Horne says that a common display of uncomfortable behavior you’ll see from individuals up to no good is that they’re “checking their six.” This is when a person looks over their shoulder to see what’s behind them or generally scans their surroundings. People who are comfortable generally don’t do this because they don’t feel any threat. So if you see a guy looking over his shoulder a lot when he should be standing there aloof, that’s an anomaly that should get your attention.

Now obviously, “checking your six” is something that situationally aware good guys do too. If you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t be noticeable to others, but it takes practice, and some guy with his head on a swivel might still be green. But until you verify that through further observation, be suspicious.

On the flipside, someone acting comfortable when everyone else is uncomfortable would be an anomaly. One of the ways law enforcement was able to identify the Boston Marathon bombers was that they noticed in surveillance footage that the men looked relatively calm while everyone else was running around in a panic. The reason they looked calm was because they knew the explosion was going to happen and thus weren’t surprised by it, while everyone else was caught off guard.

Interested/uninterested behavior. Most people aren’t paying attention to their environment. They’re too caught up in their own thoughts or whatever it is they’re doing. So individuals who are showing interest in a particular person or object that most people wouldn’t be interested in is an anomaly that warrants further observation.

These three body language clusters establish baselines for every situation in which we find ourselves and allow us to direct our limited attention towards things that are potentially more important and/or dangerous. If a person’s behavior across these clusters fits the baseline for that particular circumstance, you can pretty much ignore them. If their behavior doesn’t fit the baseline, they’re an anomaly and you should observe them more closely.

Other Behavioral Threat Indicators

Besides the above three kinesic clusters, Marine Combat Profilers are taught to look out for a couple other behaviors that could apply to civilian situations as well:

Shifty hands. Military and law enforcement officers typically check the hands first on any person with which they’re engaging. This is for two reasons. First, “checking the hands of a person ensures that the person is not holding a weapon and is not preparing to strike,” writes Van Horne. Second, hands often telegraph hidden nefarious intentions. People who are concealing something they don’t want discovered, like a gun, knife, or stolen object, “will often touch or pat that area on the body where that object is concealed, as if to ensure the object has not been lost or is still hidden from view.”

“Acting Natural.” It’s difficult to “act natural” when you’re not completely focused on whatever it is you’re really supposed to be doing. People “acting natural” will appear distracted and over- or under-exaggerate their movements. Insurgents in Afghanistan will often try to act like farmers, when they’re in fact attempting to collect information on U.S. military patrols. Marine Combat Profilers are trained to look for these “farmers” who appear to be trying too hard.

Have a Plan of Action Based on What You Observe

You visit your favorite coffee shop and a bad guy with a gun decides to drop in as well. But because you’ve followed the principles above, you’re the first to see him as a threat. Great. But what are you going to do about it? Seconds matter here. You don’t have time to formulate a well-thought-out plan. What’s more, the stress of the event will muddle your thinking and decision-making.

In addition to asking yourself the baseline and anomaly questions every time you enter an environment, Van Horne suggests you ask yourself a third question: “What would I do if I saw an anomaly?” In other words, come up with an action plan.

So let’s go back to the coffee shop example. Let’s say the anomaly for which you want to create an action plan is “guy comes in with a gun.” The best course of action in this scenario depends on a few things. And knowing what those few things are requires you to be situationally aware. If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit, your best action would be to book it out the back door right away. On the other hand, if he entered through the back exit near you, according to the Department of Homeland Security, your best action would be to immediately close the gap between him and you and incapacitate him.

Or perhaps there's a middle way here? It all depends upon the situation of course.

Establish baselines. Look for anomalies. Have a plan.

That’s what situational awareness comes down to.

Situational Awareness as a Preventive Tactic

Animals are creatures of opportunity. They’ll typically only attack another creature if they look vulnerable. Lions will go after younger, sicker, or older gazelles because they’re easier to catch. The same goes with humans. Criminals are typically going to go after a person who looks vulnerable, whether the victim is physically weaker or will simply be easy to catch off guard.

Practicing situational awareness goes a long way in keeping you from appearing like an easy target. When you’re out and about, look alert. Get your nose out of your smartphone. When you’re walking back to your car at night, have your keys at the ready and constantly scan your surroundings. The less vulnerable you look, the less likely someone is going to mess with you.

Here’s another tip on not looking like a victim, from the guys at Sage Dynamics: Always keep a tactical flashlight on you and bust it out at nighttime. Having a light allows you to better observe in the darkness, but it can also act as a deterrent to would-be bad guys. Because law enforcement officers are usually the only ones shining flashlights down alleys and under cars, if you’re shining your light as you walk to your destination or back to your car, the bad guys are probably going to think you’re a cop and will likely just leave you alone. If worst comes to worst and you do end up getting jumped, you can use the tactical flashlight as a defensive tool by blinding your would-be attacker with the bright beam or even hitting him with the beveled edge that’s often built into the handle.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Situational awareness is a mindset that you have to purposefully cultivate. You want to get to the point that it’s just something you do without having to think about it. To get to that point, you have to practice it regularly. Starting today, consciously remind yourself to look for entry/exit points whenever you enter a new building. Start observing people and establishing baselines and generating possible anomalies while you’re at work, at the gym, or on a date. And then start coming up with action plans on what you would do in that specific situation if you see a possible threat. Don’t be paranoid, just mindful. Do that day in and day out, and situational awareness won’t be something you have to intentionally think about, just something you do naturally. And not fake farmer natural, but Jason Bourne natural.

Until next time, keep your head on a swivel, check your six, and keep your back to the wall.

Oh, and stay manly! :rolleyes:

___________________________


Further Reading and Resources on Situational Awareness

Left of Bang by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley. Patrick has spent his career researching and teaching situational awareness to Marines through the Marine Combat Profiling system that he helped create. This book, coupled with the articles at his site cp-journal.com and a personal interview with him went a long way in helping answer my questions.

www.cp-journal.com. This is Patrick’s company website. He has tons of free content that provides insanely useful information on developing your situational awareness. If you’re looking for something more structured, he also offers online courses.

“Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness” by Dr. Mica Endsley. Dr. Mica Endsley is the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Air Force. While Dr. Endsley’s paper is pretty technical, she does a fantastic job explaining the minutia and nuances of situational awareness that helped clarify a few things for me. I highly recommend you check it out.

Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making by Gary Klein

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker - This last one has been brought up and recommended in a number of places.

So some good tips and ways of thinking about staying safe. As I read this I was reminded of situations I had been through, some potentially dangerous some not. Some well handled, some not. But now I think: Who knows how much paying a few extra minutes or even seconds of attention and awareness during the course of the day may at some time mean the ultimate difference between safety/thriving and tragedy.
 

Mr.Cyan

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Thanks Ennio, really good tips on how we can increase situational awareness. This to me too will be a critical skill that we will need to improve upon in the difficult times ahead. As you mentioned, it is the small things that will make a big difference. For example, even simple daily events at work, where you will visit various office buildings, or hotels, its best to be aware of all your exit points in case of an emergency - a small fact but will make a big difference if there is a earthquake, fire or unexpected situation that suddenly happens. Will definitely look to get the Left of Bang book by Patrick Van Horne. Thanks again for the post.
 

Mark

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Thanks for posting that - great info. I need to review the OODA Loop stuff in depth, I've heard of it but only in a brief summary.

Gift of Fear is available as an audio book from Audible, might be useful for people who spent a lot of time commuting:

__http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_mn_mt_ano_tseft__galileo/175-8014206-6906337?advsearchKeywords=gift+of+fear&x=0&y=0
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
[quote author=Ennio]
So some good tips and ways of thinking about staying safe.
[/quote]

Indeed. Thanks for sharing.

[quote author=Ennio]
Let’s say the anomaly for which you want to create an action plan is “guy comes in with a gun.” The best course of action in this scenario depends on a few things. And knowing what those few things are requires you to be situationally aware. If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit, your best action would be to book it out the back door right away. On the other hand, if he entered through the back exit near you, according to the Department of Homeland Security, your best action would be to immediately close the gap between him and you and incapacitate him.

Or perhaps there's a middle way here? It all depends upon the situation of course.

[/quote]

It does depend on the specifics of the situation. However, in general, with a "guy comes in with a gun" scenario, unless one is carrying a gun and has experience and training to use it effectively, chances of coming out tops in a physical engagement is very very low. Even in the case of being armed and experienced, chances are mostly less than even. I have heard this from guys who are well trained and teach such stuff to experts as well as commoners. So confrontation should be the absolute last resort for us regular Joes in such a hypothetical situation. It is preferable to lose belongings than risking one's life.

Hone your observation skills by playing the A-Game. Mike plays a game with his kids called the “A-Game,” or Awareness Game, to help them (and himself) strengthen their observational skills. To play, when you go into a business, make note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entry/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like “How many workers were behind the counter?” “Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?” “What color was his/her shirt?” “How many exits were there?”

It’s fun to play, but more importantly it’s training your kids (and you) to be more mindful of their surroundings.


In this context (observe + orient) here is a very trivial example on top of my mind because it happened today. The reason to share it is that it does not always have to be about safety either but just generally relating to the surroundings. My son and myself were inside a pediatric medical office area today and there was a bench with 4 empty seats. 1 and 4 are towards the side with 2 and 3 in the middle. My son sat down in 2 and was gesturing towards me to take 3. When I took 1 instead, he asked me why I did not take 3. I told him that if he looked around in the office, there were many parent-child pairs. So if another pair came to seat near us, with the present seating arrangement, they would have two adjacent seats just like we were having. After some time we had to move to another waiting area and saw a similar group of seats with a family occupying the middle seats leaving the 2 end ones vacant. Instead of seating there separately, we looked for and found an arrangement with two adjacent seats. Quite a mundane event but my son hopefully learned something.
 

shellycheval

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Thanks Ennio--"Situational Awareness" is a topic that keeps popping up for me lately and I am paying attention, so this is a very timely and helpful article.

If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit, your best action would be to book it out the back door right away. On the other hand, if he entered through the back exit near you, according to the Department of Homeland Security, your best action would be to immediately close the gap between him and you and incapacitate him.

I agree with Obyvatel. I am surprised that the author would suggest such an action considering how few average people would have the training and physical ability to "incapacitate" a predator. As a 61 YO, 5'1" woman, I would be looking for cover and getting out of the line of fire ASAP!
 

Ennio

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Mr.Cyan said:
Thanks Ennio, really good tips on how we can increase situational awareness. This to me too will be a critical skill that we will need to improve upon in the difficult times ahead. As you mentioned, it is the small things that will make a big difference. For example, even simple daily events at work, where you will visit various office buildings, or hotels, its best to be aware of all your exit points in case of an emergency - a small fact but will make a big difference if there is a earthquake, fire or unexpected situation that suddenly happens. Will definitely look to get the Left of Bang book by Patrick Van Horne. Thanks again for the post.

What you write reminds me of the book The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley - which is also about having the presence of mind to be able to *think* during difficult situations and act accordingly - and how so many don't. If you've never read it you may find that interesting. I have a feeling that the author of the above article distilled the important points of Left of Bang, which is probably better geared towards military types. Also, there is soo much in the above article alone that could be helpful if we train ourselves a bit.

m said:
Gift of Fear is available as an audio book from Audible, might be useful for people who spent a lot of time commuting:

__http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_mn_mt_ano_tseft__galileo/175-8014206-6906337?advsearchKeywords=gift+of+fear&x=0&y=0

Thanks for this, m. I've known about this book from its mentioned on the forum and Laura's citing of it, and read good things about this audio version of this book. Many here are 'instinct injured' and this seems to go some way in helping folks to correct it - perhaps similar in some ways to Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
 

Ennio

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obyvatel said:
Ennio] Let’s say the anomaly for which you want to create an action plan is “guy comes in with a gun.” The best course of action in this scenario depends on a few things. And knowing what those few things are requires you to be situationally aware. If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit said:
If the robber came in from the front door and you’re near the rear exit, your best action would be to book it out the back door right away. On the other hand, if he entered through the back exit near you, according to the Department of Homeland Security, your best action would be to immediately close the gap between him and you and incapacitate him.

I agree with Obyvatel. I am surprised that the author would suggest such an action considering how few average people would have the training and physical ability to "incapacitate" a predator. As a 61 YO, 5'1" woman, I would be looking for cover and getting out of the line of fire ASAP!

Yep. Many of us are not in the shape or have honed in on the disposition to 'kick butt'.
 

Mr.Cyan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Ennio said:
What you write reminds me of the book The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley - which is also about having the presence of mind to be able to *think* during difficult situations and act accordingly - and how so many don't. If you've never read it you may find that interesting. I have a feeling that the author of the above article distilled the important points of Left of Bang, which is probably better geared towards military types. Also, there is soo much in the above article alone that could be helpful if we train ourselves a bit.

Actually i have not come across the Unthinkable before - just read the review as well on Amazon and have added that to my to read list :) - thanks again for the good recommendation. Fully agree as well, that there is good information in the above article, where even if we spend 10 minutes daily practising (like the mental memorising game) will greatly improve our situational awareness. Another key point in the article was about remaining calm, and collected during a crisis. This will be crucial, as during the first sign of disaster/incident a majority of people will panic, and most likely behave irrationally, if we can keep calm, strategise, and analyse the full situation before making decisions on how to proceed, our survival chances will increase. Keeping calm under stress/panic is one of the most difficult skills to acquire, and also can't really be "practised" beforehand - hence i think it is the small incremental steps that we take in increasing our situational awareness that will help our ability to be calm and collected in actual crisis situations. Situational awareness practice combined with EE, meditation, and breathing techniques will go a long way in helping us face difficult situations.

Just to add, a good memorising game (that would probably take 10 minutes mentally) when you enter any building or confined space, you can try to answer a series of questions like:

1. Where are the emergency exits and how to get there.
2. Trying to remember the characteristics of the at least 4 people in the room (left handed/right handed, hair colour, facial features, clothing, any physical features or striking anomalies)
3. License plate number of at least 2 cars parked nearby - and if they had occupants (similar to the Bourne identity movie clip).
4. Nearest sturdy table/furniture, can can be used as shelter, in case of an earthquake.
5.After exiting the building, think of the fastest escape route to get back to your home/loved ones - you must assume you will have no means of communication & transport - hence beforehand make a rendezvous point with your family that is known to all members in case of emergency...


We can definitely add more questions or change the parameters - but most importantly, we should constantly practice these thoughts, and then i guess the "Unthinkable" can be better managed
 

Mr.Cyan

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Just finished "Unthinkable" by Amanda Ripley. Thanks for the good recommendation Ennio. It is a well researched book into how our brains & personalities handle emergency/disaster situations. The key point for me from the book, is that the more we practice mentally and physically being in disaster situations, the better we handle them. According to her research and interviews, the act of actually starting to think during the survival arc of emergencies is what would normally slow our responses down (the "deliberation phase"), or may lead to wrong judgements of the situation - for if we have thought/mentally planned about a disaster frequently beforehand and how to handle it, plus praticed evacuation drills, then our responses become more appropriate and our chances of survival increase. Breathing techniques to calm the mind during emergencies were also discussed. All in all a very good read, and food for thought.
 

Ennio

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The following video has some interesting facts and good insights about being confronted by psychopathic criminals, and some of the scenarios mentioned in it reminded me of some of the horrors depicted in the MindMatters show on serial killer Israel Keyes.

Hopefully none of us are ever confronted with such situations but, in case one is, who knows if the knowledge in the video may help in some way. The full title of it is 'How to respond to the bullying threats of criminal psychopaths'

 

Lilou

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This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I went to the local box hardware store garden center on my lunch hour to purchase a 2 meter tall windmill for the yard. They had nice sale on mums, so I got several for myself and my mom.

The store was not busy, I was 2nd space from the door, next to the store delivery pick up truck. I had to dissemble the blades from the stand, and did notice an older man parked about 4 meters away, going to his vehicle.

Good reminder on situational awareness, because I loaded everything in the car and failed to notice the guy was just watching me. He did not load and leave.

What he did do was wait for me to get in the car then proceeded to rap on my drivers side window with his keys. Scared the begeezus outta me! My heart rate went from 80 to 120 plus in an instance. My reaction was to fling the car door open (I probably hit him with it!) , jump out and yell " are you trying to give me a frickIng heart attack??" At this point the man has backed away and is now 3 meters away and putting his cart between me and him.

He looks at me, snickers and says " did we forget about the cart carral?"

I said apparently and I don't work for Menards, do you? He said I'll take your cart back for you. As you wish, goodbye!

So this is kinda creepy. People taking it upon themselves to be social police? I certainly don't think he expected my reaction, and I didn't expect such a reaction either! But a good reminder to stay aware. I should have paid more attention. Old man outta be more careful too, lots of concealed carry around my neck of the woods!

Has anyone else had anything like this happen to them? My family thinks I should have stayed in the car. I think in the car with window rolled down was a more vulnerable position. I wasn't too far from the front door of the store and I'm sure I could outrun him. Crazy old koot.
 

unkl brws

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Where I work, we were required to watch this video that deals with situational awareness to survive an active shooter incident-


I usually try daily to be aware of where the closest emergency exit, first aid/eyewash station, fire extinguisher, fire alarm, and phone is at work. You just never know when you'll need to know these things.
 

Voyageur

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The following video has some interesting facts and good insights about being confronted by psychopathic criminals, and some of the scenarios mentioned in it reminded me of some of the horrors depicted in the MindMatters show on serial killer Israel Keyes.

Hopefully none of us are ever confronted with such situations but, in case one is, who knows if the knowledge in the video may help in some way. The full title of it is 'How to respond to the bullying threats of criminal psychopaths'

Good one. He takes some time to take the lesson into the now of our times - the bullies at the top, the public shaming and decrees, while mentioning in a clear voice, no, let us look at the data; basically a broken economy kills, so who needs a virus of fear.
 

genero81

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Good one. He takes some time to take the lesson into the now of our times - the bullies at the top, the public shaming and decrees, while mentioning in a clear voice, no, let us look at the data; basically a broken economy kills, so who needs a virus of fear.

Yes exactly, I wasn't expecting that tie in at the end. Turns out to be one of the strongest cases made for saying no to the measures being pushed that I've seen. And I've seen a lot of good cases made.
 

mkrnhr

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My family thinks I should have stayed in the car. I think in the car with window rolled down was a more vulnerable position. I wasn't too far from the front door of the store and I'm sure I could outrun him. Crazy old koot.
I think you were lucky it was just this crazy old thing. In many situations, there's a group hiding somewhere and they send someone to do the provocation, then they attack. It depends on the surrounding context of course.
 
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