Today our lives seem under attack in every venue: schools, ball fields, parking lots… How do we protect ourselves and take back our safety? Situational Awareness is proactively observing our surroundings, ascertaining our vulnerabilities and eliminating them. To start the process ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have we walked meticulously around our workplace or home and put ourselves in the criminals’ mindset to identify what is at stake (critical assets such as family members or expensive items)?
  2. Do we know what times are best and easiest to attack?
  3. Have we walked inside and outside the grounds to discover where we could be attacked, determined the best exits routes, located places we could run for concealment or hardcover, figured out where an attacker would have the easiest avenue of approach?
  4. In other words, what are our vulnerabilities?

If we go out somewhere we should calmly scan our surroundings to ascertain the similar vulnerabilities and how to minimize them.

We should then determine our standard operating procedure (SOP) which should include 1) where to run, escape or hide, 2) what can we use as a weapon, 3) who do we call, 4) how to develop an alert signal to use with our friends, family, and co-workers. If we have developed a plan we are less likely to ‘freeze’ in a crisis situation and make the decisions to save us from serious harm. When confronted with an active shooter we must run, hide and fight in that order. In a mass shooting, it takes the authorities 3-7 minutes to arrive, but the most people are killed in the first 1.5-3 minutes. We must rely upon ourselves. First, if possible, run!! We have already developed our SOP and have a plan of escape. Taking cover as soon as possible is critical. This means going where we will not be seen or shot. Think steal beams, concrete walls or other impenetrable objects. If the attacker is too close and you cannot run and hide, then fight is your final option. Find an object that you can use as a weapon and strike the attacker in areas of weakness (soft areas, head, eyes, throat, joints). Don’t wait for someone else to make the move as it could lead to ‘bystander effect’ where everyone is waiting for someone to do something and no one does anything.

Some common safety rules:

  1. Speak up at the perception of danger and try to scare off or distract the attacker.
  2. Don’t be an easy target. Walk confidently and don’t make yourself a target by walking or running alone in dark areas.
  3. Always park for an easy exit and maintain at least a half a tank of gas.
  4. If you intend to carry a weapon know how to use it and be prepared to use it if necessary.
  5. Develop your SOP with family, friends, and co-workers.
  6. Study the body movements of those around you. Be aware of your surroundings

Once you have activated these habits you will be and feel more secure and your likelihood of surviving any attack.

Adapted from Ohio Lawyer Vol 32, No3, Page 26.