The Importance of Situational Awareness

“Self defence” a term we all know too well in today’s climate, there are dozens of different “styles”, classes and courses one can take to give you confidence and the ability to defend yourself from attack, or do they? Whilst I have no martial arts or modern fighting technique qualifications I have been fortunate to be involved in the training of individuals due to unfortunately being in careers which could daily bring me into contact with violence and aggression directed at myself and others in my care. The ethos of its easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble is a good code to abide by, but as we see weekly in the media sometimes there is no warning, just an unprovoked attack of which the shock and disorientation created makes it difficult to respond. Whilst we can employ Close Protection officers to look after our loved ones and children it is important that those directly responsible for their care also need to be aware of their surroundings, risks and how their actions effect work with protection officers.

Situational awareness is not a new concept but in today’s world of head down, earphones on, both hands out in front phone or tablet in hand it is easy for any potential attacker or assailant to get extremely close to a person before they are aware, next time you are in a street or crowded area look around at who is actually fully aware of their surroundings, you’ll be surprised. Now think of your nanny, governess or matron in the park with your children, if they were alone who would notice if they were in trouble and if they did, would they help?

I started to offer free sessions for ladies (gentlemen are welcome) after an old school chum had been stalked for over 6 years and was terrified of public places, yes we cover how to physically protect yourself, but using what we would do naturally rather than teach moves and techniques, fear is an emotion that effects everyone in its own way and a class a week for a few months may be forgotten when someone had their hands round your throat. What is important is the basics of awareness, we are all taught from a young age to stop at the roadside to check for cars, but are we taught to look for the person following us, paying particular attention to our movements, noting work patterns favourite lunch spots and that regular coffee meeting with the other staff.

For me seeing that light-bulb moment is enough reward for me, explaining that when you are told to reverse your car into a space it’s not just so you can drive away quickly, but what about before you can drive away, a car driven into a space provides a barrier to your escape should someone decide to accost you as you open your driver’s door, yet reversed in it creates a barrier between you and them, Simple yes, when explained.

Those wishing to do harm to you, your family and loved ones will always look for the weakest link, so ensuring all those in your circle have some awareness of the dynamic rick assessment process and what potential threats and dangers are before they become a problem is a natural progression to their induction or orientation to your world. Talk to your PPO’s ask them to give your staff an overview of their world and how they can share knowledge and work together.

Written by Robert Betts of  the Elite Academy of Security Training

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