Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flash Mob and Situational Awareness Training at the Mall

The latest craze is to Flash Mob.  Flash Mob is the term for a bunch of people getting together to do something unusual who were given the information by text message of where they are meeting and what they are doing.  For example, 200 people went to Macy’s once to pretend to buy a rug.  They were instructed to say they lived in a commune and had to make all decisions collectively.  They overwhelmed the employees and blocked the entrances.  Yesterday 5000 people showed up at a mall near Sacramento to sing a Christmas song.  There were so many who showed up and made so much noise that the place shook and the mall had to be evacuated for everyone’s safety. 

Being caught in the middle of something like this can be terrifying.  This isn’t just happening in large cities, but also in small towns.  Mobs are just descending to docrazy things to create chaos (or awe) and have their five minutes of fame.  You just need to keep up on your situational awareness.  If something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t right!  Listen to your conscience and change whatever behavior you are doing.  If you were at the mall (to me that’s terrifying enough!) and people started gathering, or even people just stopping in place, WATCH OUT. 

There’s a lot of mall and big store shopping going on right now.  Even when you are in crowded places try to avoid the crowds – sounds contradictory but just because you are at the mall doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in a group or let down your guard.  Know where the exits are - not just the main doors but also the emergency exits.  Know where they are and know where they lead.  Know where you parked! Little things can make a difference.  Sit at a table facing the entrance or cashier. 

If you think you’ve come across a “bad guy” make eye contact.  (I like doing this behind my sunglasses (I always wear sunglasses when I’m outside) – but they still know (or think) I’m looking at them.)  Making eye contact may make them pick another victim. 
When my kids were little and we’d go someplace I would dress them in the brightest colors I could so they would stand out.  It would be easier for me to spot them.  Don’t do this.  You really want to blend in or at least not stand out. 

You can have fun as an individual or with your family to raise your situational awareness.  Assess your surroundings.  Make it a game when you first start out.  When you are at the grocery store, look for someone who has their cell phone in one hand while pushing the cart with the other hand.  Look for someone who is wearing their wallet in their front pocket.  Look for someone who is pushing around a cart with one or two items in it and really doesn’t look like they are shopping.  Look for the family that dressed the same.

If you can, you should always be armed.  I’m not allowed to carry a gun on me or in my vehicle at work (it’s a felony if I got caught and they wanted to charge me).  That doesn’t mean I can’t be armed.  A rod, a bat, a fire extinguisher, a knife, wearing boots, an umbrella, etc.  There’re all kinds of arms, not just guns – although I prefer guns, which is why I have applied for my concealed carry permit. 

Drugs and alcohol will slow your reaction and affect your judgment.  It’s bad enough to do this at home (where hopefully your practicing to get out of bad situations can counter some of the effects of your impairment), but you really shouldn’t ever imbibe away from home.  You are putting yourself and those you need to protect at risk. 

Try not to talk on your cell phone when walking around, sitting down to eat in public, or driving.  Even hands free.  When you do this you tend to focus on the conversation and not on your surroundings – and not on your kids.  How many people have you seen at a store, park, or wherever, and they are having a long loud conversation on their phone and ignoring the kids?  Not only is this lousy situational awareness, the kids don’t appreciate being ignored. 

When you leave a store have your keys in your hand.  When you are carrying your packages don’t hold them in your right hand or over your right shoulder, if you are right-handed.  Keep your arm and hand free to give you quick access to your weapon.  In my case, today while I’m working, I’ll carry an umbrella in my right hand.  That’ll make a good weapon if anyone needs to get pushed away from me.  

Keep your windows in your vehicle rolled up and doors locked while driving.  

Be careful out there among the English.

1 comment:

  1. My state legislators did an incredibly smart thing a few years ago. Outdoorsmen and hunters were being harrassed by the fish and game people for the gun they were carrying. Some were ticketed for carrying a handgun since the fish and game weanies had decided you couldn't hunt with a handgun by their logic if you had one in the woods you were "ipso facto" hunting with a handgun. So what the legislators did was declare that they and they alone could pass laws affecting guns. And overnight all the schools became legal for CCW gun owners along with the woods and most public places. The transition wasn't smooth. A few cases where a college suspended a CCW permit for carrying a gun and the school's lawyers had to explain in court what it was about the new law they didn't understand.