Some may consider you paranoid, others may say that you are overly concerned, however if something bad were to happen you will have a tremendous advantage over those who think that way. And that is your benefit.
Planning and practice are the two keys to survival . Each complements the other. You can plan, but if you don’t practice, you won’t have the skills to accomplish your goal. On the other hand, if you practice but don’t plan, you won’t have a smooth, coordinated response. Therefore, each of the above activities, planning and practice must go hand in hand to properly implement situational awareness.
The role of situational awareness was first recognized during the Korean and Vietnam wars. During those wars we lost many pilots, because we were terrible in air fights. But there were some pilots who were able to successfully shoot down enemy planes and even become aces. When these pilots were interviewed, it was determined that they all used a similar method to analyze the actions of enemy pilots, which they used to their advantage and therefore allowed them to shoot down more aircraft.
Based on this research, John Boyd developed the OODA Cycle. This was a relatively complex algorithm that organized the processing used by the pilots and instituted a way of thinking that allowed a person to use current and past observations to make future decisions.
The Cycle OODA (OODA Loop) Boyd, meaning Observe, Orient, Decide and Act created an organized process to make current observations, convert the observations into usable data to guide the data, then decide its tentative and finally plan if necessary, activate the plan. By doing all of this you give yourself an advantage during a bad situation, as your actions will be based on predetermined plans and thus you will create a greater probability that they will be successful. I encourage you to look up the OODA Loop and take time to study it so that you can use the principles. It is an invaluable tool to be used as part of your Situational Awareness process.
Let’s start with understanding situational awareness, how to implement it, and use it to your advantage. In general, the first step in determining your future action plans is based on the immediate situation you are in. For example, are you alone or with a group of people? Being alone has many advantages and allows you to make decisions without having to consult or inform anyone else. So in this case, checking your surroundings and making tentative action plans is simple. However, on the other hand, if you are in a group, this process can become much more complicated. One of the ways to reduce complication and confusion is to have a default “code” that allows you to get the attention of everyone in your group. To better protect your family and ensure that everyone is aware and ready to respond appropriately should something bad happen, each family should have a “keyword” that when announced, directs their attention to the family leader. Once the group’s attention is captured, the group’s team leader can give orders and instructions on how to proceed. This is imperative for the survival of the group.
Awareness of the situation is a state of mind . Therefore, it must be constantly practiced to master its use and implementation. I can’t stress how important it is to practice and use situational awareness all the time. Most likely, it is at that time that you have not used it and become a victim or catch you off guard.
Jeff Cooper adapted a color-coded definition of human consciousness and response to critical situations. Understanding these states of mind and applying them to your daily life is vital for survival.
White : Totally unaware of his surroundings and surroundings. This is clearly the most dangerous condition to be in; you are most vulnerable in this state. This condition can occur while driving, when you daydream, when you talk on your cell phone, send text messages, and when you are watching your children. Naturally there are many more cases that could be mentioned that reflect the White condition. Again, this is the most dangerous condition to be in, the condition that thieves like to find you in so that they have the upper hand. Thieves generally know how to search for people in this state of consciousness. While you are distracted, they are planning their attack strategy.
Yellow: He is relaxed but alert and in contact with his surroundings. This is the first stage of the OODA cycle, the observation phase. You are looking around you, noting where the exits are, noting who is entering the door, determining the terrain, and considering basic action plans. This can be done casually without anyone knowing what you are doing and without interfering with your current activity. This level of awareness will allow you to quickly notice normal events and irregular events. This is the phase where you will start to see things that you have never noticed before. This is good.
Orange: Your alertness has increased significantly, something is not right, action may be required, and more formal action planning is required. Examples include people arguing, someone acting inappropriately, someone moving into your personal space, or an actual abnormal event. This is a level of action of consciousness; you need to make decisions at this level. It could be leaving the area and not being confrontational. It could be your children or group gathering. Seriously, consider your personal protective action. If you have practiced the Yellow level well, this phase can be managed without considerable problems. However, if you have not implemented the Yellow condition, you and everyone in your party will be caught off guard, confused, and disoriented when an adverse event occurs.
Red: Immediate action is required. This does not necessarily mean an interventionist action. It could mean leaving the scene, finding the quickest exit, seeking shelter, activating your personal protection plan. It is also a time when an intervention may be necessary, such as actively protecting yourself and your family members, the use of some type of personal protection device. Delaying the implementation of your personal protection plan that involves protection for you, your family or innocent people, could have a negative result. This is the time when fear, reserve, confusion, and lack of planning can put you in the most danger. It is imperative that you be firm on this level. If you have handled the Orange level well, this phase can be somewhat fluid. Since you know what you are going to do. I can’t say enough how practice, practice, and practice will be your best friend if you find yourself in this situation. As mentioned earlier in this paragraph, hesitation, reservation, and confusion are not your friends when this type of action is required.
The final condition is significant. It’s black. In this condition, you are most likely in a state of shock or confusion. What just happened? This is the level where you should regain your conscious state of mind, organize your thoughts, and calm down, because you may be completely confused after an event occurs in which you had to intervene. It is important that you take the time to retrieve your thoughts and what happened. That is why you should not speak to the police after a major intervention event. Naturally, you need to be courteous and professional and understand that you will be stopped and maybe even arrested. But you must clearly state that you want to speak to your attorney before speaking in depth with the police. They will understand it in most cases.
Professionals in the firearms, personal protection and safety industries cannot stress enough how important training is when it comes to operational success. Thus, to perfect your skills you must train constantly. That means practicing methodical decision making based on good information. Practice situational awareness all the time, no matter what environment you are in. Finally, learn how to use your EDC tools (Every Day Carry, which would translate something like Daily Carriage) efficiently and quickly. Practicing these skills is key to success and a positive outcome. It is vital that you do this.
Here are some examples. Train yourself not to make any decisions while you are angry or excited. Learn to slow down, look at the facts, and then make a solid decision. Another more complex and engaging practice scenario would be when you are at an event, observe what is happening around you and try to anticipate the actions of the people you are observing.
Another method of training for adverse events is a training tool called Stress Inoculation.. This training puts you in stressful situations as you train to better prepare for a real event. There is a wide range of means to apply this to your training and I am going to share a fairly simple one that you can use. In most cases, this training tool cannot be used in traditional shooting ranges. One way to add some stress to your training regimen is to make it more physically challenging. One method you can choose is to do a few pushups or jumps before shooting. As you might expect, this will significantly increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Also, this will add some stress to your shooting performance.
Then learn to plan while you watch. As you enter the restaurant, take a minute and determine: Where are the exits…? Where can I sit so I can watch the door… ..? Where is the least crowded area of the restaurant so you can have space? Can I see my car from the restaurant…? As he walks to his seat…. Watch people eating and what they are wearing… Finally, make a quick plan…. If this happens, I will walk out through this door … or if that happens, I will move to that place … then have fun and keep an eye on your surroundings.
The next step in this series is learning how to use your tools very well. Make sure your phone has a quick button to call 911. Practice opening and closing your knife, to the point where you can safely do so in the dark. Finally and most importantly, make sure you know very well how to use your personal protection tool (weapon). This tool can save your life, so you need to know how to use it and have no reservations when the need to use it arises.
In short, Situational Awareness is an alert state of mind , allowing you to be aware of your surroundings in the event of an unexpected incident. In that case, the proper application of Situational Awareness will allow you to respond quickly and intelligently, so that you can properly address the abnormal event. Having the necessary EDC (Daily Carrier) survival tools with you and the comfort and knowledge of their use will allow you to feel safe in your actions. The ability to respond quickly and affirmatively, along with a sense of security, comes only from practice, practice, and practice.