01 October, 2017 is a day that will go down in the history books as just another day that brought temporary shock and awe to the people of this great nation. I say temporary simply because the horror of the moment has passed on into memory for most people. On that day, one Stephen Paddock opened fire upon a massed crowd of concert goers some 490 yards away from the Mandalay Resort hotel in Las Vegas Nevada.
Firing from the 32nd floor into a concert venue some 490 yards away, the concert goers at the annual Harvest County music festival would have been like fat juicy fish in the bottom of a barrel. Paddock allegedly fired hundreds of rounds into the crowd at a rapid rate of fire, assisted by what is called a “bump stock”. This device allows a semi-automatic rifle to be fired at speeds comparable to a fully automatic weapon.
The poor souls attending the country music concert didn’t have a clue as to what was in store for them that day, and as the shooting continued, blended into one solid mass of pure panic. But I’m not here to dissect the shooting and give my two cents worth on it; I’m here to talk about something called “situational awareness” or SA.
SA is often hyped by many gurus in the pepper/survivalist world as a skill that takes months if not years to develop. This however is not really true. SA is something that is innate in most humans. Unfortunately, we have become so urbanized and lazy that skills like this one have become buried into the farthest reaches of our memory banks. This is too bad because many of our trips into other places besides our home can be enhanced and made more enjoyable, as well as safer if we could only awaken this hidden skill.
The skills of SA become more acute as we use them more and more. Without going into a long drawn out textbook discussion of this mental exercise, let me simply say that situational awareness simply means being mentally and physically aware of the situation you are in.
How do we do this? In the greater aspect, we need to take a position that when we are going to any given site, we examine the place we are going to for any and all possible threat potential. Smart preppers and security minded people will take the added step of pre-reconnaissance of any event venue for additional information that can help you determine threats as well as ways to avoid and escape from any given threat.
Most event flyers and websites will provide you with a seating plan which helps you decide how much ticket to buy and where you will be sitting with that ticket. These diagrams also give you an idea of where the entry and exit doors are and sometimes other architectural elements that you will need to be aware of. Use this knowledge to develop a way of escaping from and lessening and threat factors. Try to be seated as close to an exit path as possible for quick egress from a situation.
Learn where any safety barriers might be placed as these barricades may be useful to hide behind. One of the things we saw in the many shared videos of the Vegas Massacre was images of people trying to find cover. Granted, due to the angle of fire in this situation, it was a difficult to actually find full protection, but in more cases than not, these shootings occur from a ground level, and therefore the barricades make better protection.
Try to be constantly scanning the area you are in for suspicious looking people. When at the mall, especially in food courts, this is very important. The threat you face may not be a shooter, but a simple pick-pocket. People that are up to no good are always also scanning the area they are in. The exception here is they are not looking for a threat from someone intent on harm, they are looking for security personnel that may be there looking for a criminal.
Know where the doors are to any building you visit. Entry ways can also be exits in an emergency, even though the doors may be physically marked or built to only allow traffic in one direction. One tip here is that all modern building codes require doorways to be opened to allow for exiting any building in the event of a fire, even without power. Usually, you just need to push on a closed door to open it, even if the crash bar is locked. All commercial doors must open outwards, one way or another.
When in a restaurant, sit in such a way that you can observe the entryways and other doors. Don’t choose a table that may be in an alcove, cozily hidden away for a discreet meal. Such a choice may well trap you and prevent escape should some nut case open fire where you are.
The list goes on and I’ll cover more in another post, but just remember that public places make for welcoming venues for these glory seeking shooters. These people are generally interested in taking out as many people as they can, and go into these events with the intent that they will themselves be shot. To some people, there is glory and recognition in death.
Situational awareness is a key factor in our potential for survival in the long term. More often than not we are actually practicing SA, and aren’t even aware of it. Become aware of it and develop this skill to its fullest extent. Till the next time, be prepared and survive the times!