Basic Security Awareness
Awareness is defined in Wikipedia as: Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event.
In your conscious state, you are constantly inundated and subjected to sounds, sights, sensations and other voluntary and involuntary input, some of which you consciously choose to be aware of while others you simply filter out. Here we will discuss how and why awareness is vital to good survival training and how you can better develop these skills, which can not only be incorporated in your quest for terrorism survival education, but can also assist you greatly in your daily life as well as in your business.
Human beings naturally become complacent when in familiar surroundings, it is not till you are placed in a new environment that you “open your eyes and ears.” Take for example the average family that goes to a restaurant, one that they have been to dozens of times before. You are the mother or father in that family, you park your car in the parking lot, walk to the front door and are seated at your table by the hostess, you order food and drinks and when the meal is over you leave. You get back in your vehicle and go home—all the while completely unaware of everything around you. Now let’s give you another perspective of the same event.
You drive into the parking lot of the restaurant and begin to look at the other vehicles parked there, including if anyone is in the vehicle, their license plate numbers and pay particular attention to any vehicle which is suspicious. Next you find a parking space that affords the quickest access to the exit and back the car in. As you exit the vehicle you continue scanning the parking lot for people, memorizing their faces, clothing and any remarkable characteristics such as tattoos, scars, etc. You also look at the surrounding buildings and structures in the immediate vicinity and search out vantage points. This is the spot or spots that the terrorist or criminal may choose to execute their observation or attack from.
As you and your family walk toward the entrance door, you approach the door from an angle and enter first. If the entry door has windows, you quickly scan the inside to make sure everything is business as usual before entering. Once through the door, you immediately survey the room, starting with the area immediately in front of me, scanning from left to right. You continue this scanning process while increasing depth by about five feet each time my eyes shift from left to right. You work your way from the floor to ceiling in this same manner. This continues until you reach the far wall of the restaurant. The whole process takes seconds to perform. All the while you do not focus on any one thing, but take in the room as if it were a jigsaw puzzle.
The hostess comes over to take you to your seats and you quickly look at her and commit her face and dress to memory. You have already scanned the room and its occupants and have made a formal assessment as to which table you would prefer to sit at (this is based on such things as to where the nearest entrance and exits are located, windows, which direction we will be facing and what is in that direction-example the parking lot. You have also calculated the risk of sitting near a window and being in the crosshairs of a potential sniper on the roof across the street or other criminal or terrorist element that could walk right up to the window and purposefully open fire. You have also weighed these possibilities against the level of threat, circumstances and potential escape routes) and so you ask the hostess if this is possible.
As you follow the hostess, you are walking behind her and slightly to the side (which side depends on the floor and seating layout as well as who is behind me), all the while scanning the people and tables taking mental snapshots of everything you see including what hand the gentlemen seated directly across from me is holding the butter knife with and what they are eating. The children then fall in behind you with your wife picking up the rear. As you arrive at the table you are the last one to be seated (when possible).
All during the meal and causal conversation, you continually scan the room and its occupants for anything out of the ordinary or things that are just too perfect for the setting. This whole process of awareness does not distract you or detract from the family atmosphere because it is ingrained in you from years of training and experience. When you are finished with the meal, you reverse the process and continue the same level of awareness out to the car and home.
At this point, you may be wondering how you will be able to observe, compute, analyze, disseminate and act on all this information that will be flowing into your mind, and still be able to function in a normal manner at home and at work. Well developing these types of awareness skills will require some work on your part.
First you will need to exercise your mind just as you would your body. You have already begun the process of developing awareness simply by reading this book. What you retain from your reading and the mental exercises that follow will help shape your memorization processes and thus help you begin developing the skills necessary to consciously recognize the environment and surroundings in a way you never thought possible. More importantly though, these skills may some day save your life or the life of a loved one, so stay alert, focused and maintain composure.
One of the most important skills in learning awareness is memory. If you already have a good memory then you are well on your way to becoming awareness educated. If your memory needs some work, don’t worry about it, because you can improve your memory skills by performing exercise much in the same way as you would do to build up your cardiovascular endurance or your muscles with weights.
All your knowledge, education and training are stored in your brain and are readily available when situations dictate the need. In this case think of your brain as a giant storehouse of information. As you train and exercise your brain to think in a certain manner such as the case with developing an Security Awareness Management (SAM), information is constantly recorded. This information is then recalled each and every time you run through your SAM. That means whether you are in your home, vehicle or out to lunch with clients or on vacation with your family, your brain now calls upon this information and begins an organized display of rapidly infused questions and answers that help determine alertness and thus responsiveness over time; time being measured here in milliseconds.
So, SAM is nothing more then the progressive series of steps that you have memorized which will be used to formulate the awareness protocol. There will always be variables that challenge you, but the basic premise behind your organization will remain the same whether you are walking into a department store to go shopping or whether you are in the middle of a terrorist attack.
Let me further clarify this with a simple example of SAM; you leave for work each morning at seven a.m. From the moment you approach the door to exit your residence your SAM kicks in and tells you to start scanning one of the windows for any possible activity or signs of danger outside, next you exit the home and enter your vehicle, or if your vehicle is in the garage, you scan the garage for any signs of intrusion or penetration. If you get the feeling that something is not right, you move on to the next set of OAP to determine what to do next.
You will keep repeating these processes until you develop the SAM and thus correct response to deal with whatever comes your way.