Returning “Situational Awareness” to the forefront


With major national events like the immunization program starting and the holiday season here, this is an opportune time to review and refresh on situational awareness.

At above link, spend a few moments thinking about Exercise 2.

There is a national program called [something] “Blue” in re human trafficking. Airport personnel and others in transport industry, eg bus station employees, highway rest area workers, get enrolled in the program.  I’m involved by managing part of a county emergency shelter.  Slave traffic is visible enough and a walk to the parking lots doesn’t need a search light to guess which high end RV they are being transported in.  Yes, suspicious activity is reported and recorded on my NIMS ICS forms.

Related to situational awareness is the current emphasis on “de-escalation”.  Objective is to keep any involvement to minimum and get appropriate personnel alerted and responding.

For those who are EMTs (or CERT responders [depending on sponsoring agency’s requirements]) and related, a super book is “When Violence Erupts-A Survival Guide For Emergency Responders” by Krebs, Henry, Gabriele, C.V. Mosby Company, ISBN: 0-8016-6195-1. It’s relatively expensive but the Inter-Library Loan Program has only a $4.00 fee for a library check-out book.  Anticipate next year the fee will increase.

When I can get a group established, I have book and copies for us.


One of my themes is “The Parking Lot”.  With brick and mortar shopping still around and magnified during these next few weeks, avoid the convenient shopping mall parking space and park far away from the congestion.  Plus, the exercise does wonders coupled to the extra fresh air.


  • Comments (6)

    • 4

      That was a good article that you linked to. I like how they say:

      “People cannot mentally “flip a switch” to become hyperaware and predictive…. Active situational awareness requires more mental energy than is used when complacent. Processing sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that would normally be disregarded increases the rate at which the mind fatigues.”

      This is something I need to work on, but it’s good to know that it won’t come all of the sudden, and will take time, energy, and practice.

      • 9

        Agree, thanks Bob! I don’t actively worry much about being harmed by other people, but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention to who is nearby, what they’re doing, how close they are to me, etc., and planning what I would do if someone made a move I didn’t like. I certainly feel like that kind of threat assessment is often (and unfortunately) just part of being a woman— at least it has been for me, having been a city dweller for most of my life and a runner for my entire adulthood.

        Since moving last year, I’ve been cultivating a new-for-me kind of situational awareness: I’m much more attentive to the kinds of buildings around me, whether they likely predate the state’s seismic code, if there is anything on them that might fall off. Now I cross the street now when I see something questionable, or, if I can’t, plan the exit/shelter strategy in my head. I quiz myself: If an earthquake hit now, is there a storefront I could duck into? A vehicle to put between me and the nearest building? What’s on the other side of the street? Are there power lines overhead? And so forth. It really has become a habit, and it’s almost like a game, by which I mean it doesn’t freak me out; I just sort of puzzle it out to keep myself occupied while I’m walking to/from my bus stop. 

      • 7

        That is good that you are are making it into a game. That helps you to be aware, but not get so paranoid and scared of dangers all around you. With repetition, i’m sure that you are training your brain to look for those things, so if an earthquake were to ever hit, your reaction time of looking for a safe place, will probably be faster than most people.

      • 6

        I feel like it already has helped, in the sense that I can answer the question more quickly at any given moment. I think the biggest thing for me is that a lot of what your instincts tell you to do, or make you think you can do, in a large earthquake are wrong. Lots of people are (understandably) afraid that the building they’re in will collapse on them, so they run out into the street. In reality, most buildings are not going to collapse outright, but a lot of them will shed bricks, window glass, gargoyles, signs, and other exterior elements onto the sidewalk, and there are also power poles, transformers, and confused drivers to contend with outdoors.

        The other big thing, I think, is not to underestimate how hard it is to actually move when the ground is shaking really violently. You’re probably better off ducking into the storefront that is 5 feet away in a building that predates the seismic code than the one in the more modern building that is 20 feet away. 

        I also do this to some extent re: imaging active shooter situations, which is residual from working in places that were targets. Protests are also really good places to practice situational awareness, since there are lots of variables/threats to mentally model on the fly, the conditions are always changing, and, frankly, it helps pass the time.

      • 3

        Gargoyles! haha 

        I’ve been in a little museum that had an earthquake simulator. Although it is probably not like a real thing, it was cool so feel the vibrating and shifting floor and trying to walk on it. It is hard!

        I too have tried to improve my situational awareness by thinking about active shooter scenarios when I go into a restaurant or am at the mall. Where could I hide? What can be used for protection? Where is my nearest exit?

    • 6


      Good morning,

      We here in Hurricane Alley are starting to prep for hurricane season. Was just sent a blue campaign update for emergency responders.  Above link is a version omitting some of the responder stuff.

      Somewhere in the link had read that the material, besides the DHS subject-matter experts,  was also prepared by = survivor consultants = .

      As soon as an emegency starts, the trafficking can be seen. 

      Plan now on how to address these sad situations.