What is Situational Awareness Training and why spend a day learning about it? Because this training is a mindset that can save lives.
What is Situational Awareness Training?
Situational Awareness Defined
Situational awareness (SA) is the perception of environmental elements with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event.
Situation Awareness Definition:
- Perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of space
- Comprehension of their meaning
- Projection of their status in the near future
Practical Definition – paying attention to and knowing what is going on around you!
Just a couple weeks ago, some agents from the D.O.E. came to visit us (ESS is the only security training facility in Florida that is D.O.E. approved).
The conversation turned to the recent terror attack at the Orlando nightclub, when one of the government agents asked us “if there was anything we could think of” that would have stopped it, or at least mitigate the loss of life.
First, we noted that terrorism is a tactic not exclusive to any one particular group and that the tactic would not end even if the jihadist threat were to disappear. In the Orlando incident it appears it was a “sympathizer”. We then discussed how people planning terrorist attacks have to follow a planning process and noted that there are times during that process when such plots are vulnerable to detection.
Regardless of the threat origin, it is very important to recognize that terrorist attacks and criminal activity do not materialize out of thin air. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Both terrorists and criminals follow a process when planning their actions, and this process has several distinct steps. This process has traditionally been referred to as the “attack cycle”. But if one looks at the issue thoughtfully, it becomes apparent that the same steps apply to nearly all crimes as well. Of course, there will be more time between steps in a complex crime like a kidnapping or club massacre than there will be between steps in a simple crime such as purse-snatching or armed robbery, where these steps can be completed more rapidly. Nevertheless, the same steps are generally followed.
That lead to about a 30-minute conversation. But the bottom line is this (and if you have watched any time travel movie you’d agree) if just one person had attended a situational awareness training, it may not have even happened.
What is Situational Awareness Training and Why is it Valuable?
First, what is Situational Awareness Training?
In its most elemental form, situational awareness is simply being aware of what is going on around you.
But let’s back up for a minute.
There are driving courses and there are defensive driving courses. The difference between them? Defensive driving courses incorporate elements of situational awareness (though you may not have realized it at the time).
If you have taken defensive driving lessons, you still enjoy the ride because you are more confidant — the same way you still enjoy life after situational awareness training.
But, ever arrive at your destination only to realize you were daydreaming while driving and every turn and stop you made was “automatic” and you can’t remember any of it?
Sadly, far too many of us live our lives in that same exact way.
Situational awareness is more of a mindset than a hard skill.
It is important to understand that situational awareness — being aware of one’s surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations — is more of a mindset than a hard skill. Because of this, situational awareness is not something that can be practiced only by highly-trained government agents or specialized security teams–Situational awareness can be exercised by anyone with the will 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.
Secondly, an important element of situational awareness training is the realization that you need to take responsibility for your own safety and security. Government resources are finite. The police can’t be everywhere. They can’t stop every terror attack and criminal activity. This same principle also applies to businesses, and other institutions like churches and schools.
Most importantly, you’ll learn to trust your “gut”.
From Colorado to Washington to California to Paris, to right here in Florida, there have been mass attacks, not to mention the everyday personal assaults, carjacking and robberies.
Who should take situational awareness training?
Security Guards, Office Workers, EMT/First Responders, Bodyguards, Bartenders, just about everyone!
SA training is valuable to anyone and everyone, but is a necessary training for;
- security guards
- executive protection/close protection/bodyguards
- store clerks
- office workers
- EMT/first responders
- shelter workers
- and anyone in contact with the general public
During the situational awareness course we will take you through an interactive training session, show you how to be more in tune with your environment and why Situational Awareness is so important.
This has real applications for nearly everyone, but more importantly, after training, you have a life skill.
Levels of Awareness – Cooper’s Color Codes
According to Lt Col. Jeff Cooper, recognized as the father of the modern technique of handgun shooting, the most important means of surviving a lethal confrontation is not the weapon or the martial skills.
The Primary Tool is Situational Awareness.
People typically operate on five distinct levels of awareness.
- Level 1 – White
The first level, white, speaks of being completely unaware and unprepared. It is similar to when you are engrossed in thought, conversation, a daydream, a song on the radio or even by the kids fighting in the backseat. Increasingly, cellphone calls and texting are also causing people to tune out while they drive. Have you ever arrived somewhere in your vehicle without even really thinking about your drive there? If so, then you’ve experienced being in white. Level white is unaware and unprepared. “Daydreaming” or “preoccupied”, oblivious to possible threat. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy of your attacker.
Your main enemy is reaction time. If you are not aware of your surroundings, and fail to see the suspicious character, he may overwhelm you before you can effective defend yourself. If you’re caught in Condition White, you will need several seconds to even realize what is happening and respond. You simply don’t have that much time. This level of awareness we want to try to avoid especially when out in public. Individuals in white are much more likely to not notice nor respond to possible threats in their environment in enough time to remain safe.
Example – When in your own home, with the doors locked and the alarm set. The very instant you leave your home, you escalate one level, to Condition Yellow.
Level 2- Yellow
The second level of awareness, Yellow, is referred to as relaxed alertness. This is a state in which you are relaxed but are also assessing everything around you. You are able to enjoy whatever it is you are doing, while at the same time be aware of what is happening around you. There is no specific threat but you are ready for anything. This is the level of awareness we most often want to be in. An individual that learns how to maintain in Yellow is a lot more likely to notice and react to stimuli (possible threats) in their environment. Tiny drip of adrenaline.
Examples – You are in a convenience store with your family. You are aware of others in the store and you instinctively note possible points of entry or exit. Or, you are driving and as you drive you are aware of not only your driving skills, but others around you.
Level 3 – Orange
The next level of awareness, Orange, is referred to as specific alert or focused awareness. In this level you have seen, heard or smelled something that has elevated you to this level and has now focused your attention to a certain matter. You are now starting to ask yourself, “If this happens, what will I do?” You will be able to start coming up with a plan. Even a little more adrenaline enters the system.
Examples – While in the convenient store with your family and a man walks in and is wearing a jacket in summertime. It doesn’t look right. So you start looking for exits or possible cover. Or, you are crossing an intersection and a car looks as though it’s not going to stop. You are quickly deciding whether or not to press the brake or gas petal.
Level 4 – Red
The fourth level of awareness is Red, and is referred to as high alert or fight trigger. This is the level that induces an adrenaline rush, a prayer and a gasp for air all at the same time. Whatever you thought might happen while in orange has now happened. High alert can be scary, but at this level you are still able to function. In fact, the adrenaline rush you get at this stage can sometimes aid your reflexes.
Examples – That man has placed his hands in his jacket and now pulls out a gun. Because you were aware and prepared, you have already moved yourself and your family towards an exit and are able to exit. Or, that car that looked like it wasn’t stopping, doesn’t, and because you were aware and prepared, are able to either push the brake or gas petal to avoid an accident.
The last level of awareness, Black, is what happens when you literally freeze or experience shut down and cannot respond to stimuli, either because you are petrified or because you didn’t cycle the adrenaline through your system by using the other levels and are now incapacitated by the massive dump of adrenaline. It is this panic-induced paralysis that concerns us most in relation to situational awareness. This is the level where you go into shock, your brain ceases to process information and you simply cannot react to the reality of the situation. Many times when this happens, a person can go into denial, believing that “this can’t be happening to me,” or the person can feel as though he or she is observing the event rather than actually participating in it. Often, the passage of time will seem to grind to a halt. Crime victims frequently report experiencing this sensation and being unable to act during an unfolding crime.
In essence, you become the victim through lack of planning or awareness or planning on your part. Black is NOT where you want to be.
Examples – You were in white, never in yellow and were caught by surprise by the gunman or the other vehicle. And now, when you do realize it’s too late. You most likely will not be able to react or react in time. People in white generally transition directly to black.
Most people have no idea about situational awareness.
It is an unfortunate fact that most people stumble through life, blissfully unaware of the world around them. They remain preoccupied in their own thoughts of work, personal problems or other mundane issues, with no thought given to their immediate environment. But, by not paying attention to their surroundings, they place themselves in needless jeopardy.
To fully understand this phenomena, go take a seat in the nearest hospital emergency room waiting area one evening. Observe the unfortunate people who come in for treatment and you will get an excellent illustration of this point. You will see that roughly 20% of the individuals are actually sick, so you can ignore them. Some others are overdoses so you can ignore them as well. The remaining majority are there because they did not pay attention to their environment. These will be the folks who walked off the edge of the loading dock, stepped off roofs, backed into running machinery, touched a red hot stove burner, stepped into the path of a vehicle, or allowed a thug to walk right up to them unnoticed and hit them in the head with a brick, brandished a knife, or worse, pulled out a gun and shot them.
You can be inattentive, and oblivious (blindfolded) in your work environment day-in and day-out and be lucky, until one day the odds catch up with you and you are injured.
The same exact principle applies to the street; individuals, businesses, colleges, churches and more. You can be inattentive and oblivious (blindfolded) and get away with it until your path crosses the path of a criminal or intersects with violent situation. The vast majority of criminals are opportunists, who only strike when presented with a viable, easy opportunity.
An “easy mark”.
Remove the opportunity and you remove the risk to yourself.
What is Situation Awareness Training?
Perceive – Understand – Think Ahead – All without having to work at it.
What is situational awareness training? At ESS Global, we remove your blindfolds. Blindfolds are for wine tasting, not for living your life safely.
After an ESS training, you won’t be saying…
- “I never saw it coming.”
- “He came out of nowhere.”
- “I had no idea he was even there.”
These are phrases uttered by people who ended up in bad situations. They did not see the danger or threat before it became a serious problem.
Situational awareness is much more than some tactical, combat-centric skill set. It is as much of a lifestyle as it is a skill. The applications of this awareness are infinite and reach into all aspects of our daily lives. In the most basic way, situational awareness is about being plugged directly into your environment and the people in it.
In the ESS Global Situational Awareness training class, you will learn the skills utilized by distinguished branches of the military, such as the Coast Guard and Secret Service.
What exactly is “situational awareness”? It’s “paying attention” to what is going on around you. It’s more than that, but the basic definition is the ability to scan the environment and sense danger, while maintaining the ability to conduct normal activities. In other words, to pay attention to your surroundings while not appearing to be paying attention.
The first step in situational awareness is to step out of the world of denial. During The ESS Global Situational Awareness Training, you will leave the “it can’t happen to me” world behind you. Situational awareness is knowing what and who is around you and the potential threats they might pose to you or your family/ loved ones. You assess the current situation and people around you by gathering information, processing that information, and then figuring out if any action is required. Situational awareness can help you avoid confrontations, fights or other harmful situations. Not only can situational awareness save your own life, but also other innocent lives around you. The military, the government, law enforcement agencies and self-defense experts all train, use, and practice situational awareness.
Developing awareness is a skill and the ESS Global Situational Awareness Training will give you the skill sets that last a lifetime. At first it will seem very awkward and self-conscious, but with practice, it will become seamless and subconscious. You will start to pick up on more and more subtle rings of disturbance and more complex stimuli from the world around you. Eventually, some people may even think you are psychic as they begin to notice how you seem to sense events before they unfold.
This Situational Awareness Training in Tampa is a 4- 5 hour class depending on class size and focus.