Situational awareness and what it is like for me on a daily basis

Situational awareness is being aware of what is happening around you in terms of where you are, where you are supposed to be, and whether anyone or anything around you is a threat to your health and safety. (taken from google)

This is the first time I will attempt to write and educate others on this subject. I am merely sharing what I do and in no way advocate you do the same. If something helps you great feel free to use it. I am sharing my 20 plus years of experience in military and law enforcement in dangerous environments.

This is not in any order just things I do. It is called a state of hyper vigilance and I cannot break it nor do I want to.

Hypervigilance — the elevated state of constantly assessing potential threats around you — is often the result of a trauma. People who have been in combat, have survived abuse, or have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can exhibit hypervigilance. PTSD can be caused by a wide variety of incidents. (taken from google)

Before leaving my home, I do a check of my gear and items to make sure I have everything I need in my everyday carry bag. I make sure my flashlight works and I have extra batteries. My cell phone with power bank and charger. I have a tourniquet, knives, first aid kit, gun and extra magazine if I am able to legally carry in the location. Many things are in my everyday bag and now looks more like a black women’s purse. We can discuss that another time what I carry with me.
Ok so for this article’s sake, I am in USA where I can legally carry my firearm as a retired officer under HR218. Where I reside now the firearm is with my wife as a responsible and permitted and trained gun owner.

You do not need a gun to do what I am sharing it just one tool I have in my toolbox.
My vehicles are always maintained. I make sure the periodic maintenance done accordingly. I do a walk around of my vehicle and make sure my tire pressure is good by a visual inspection. If my car is garaged or not I look under my vehicle in the am to make sure nothing was placed under it that could go boom. That would be easy to see. I look in the back seat and rear compartment on the walk around to make sure its not occupied. I do look every time I park my car at a place. I look in the window first before entering the vehicle.
I never leave my car on empty and I fill up my car before returning home in case I have to leave quickly in the night for some civil disturbance or natural disaster. My vehicles are equipped with bug out bags which is another topic as well.

When I am driving, I have my firearm or pepper spray in an area I have easy access to it. When I drive and have to make a stop, I leave enough room in front of my vehicle to do an emergency exit if needed. I am checking my mirrors when I leave my home to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary and I am not being followed.
I do not take the same route out when I leave or come home. I try to not make things a habit in my life. I try to concentrate on just the road and mirrors and surroundings. I try never to get my vehicle pinned in that’s why leave room to evacuate and flip a U turn if necessary. My doors are always locked and I do not open for any beggars on the street.
When I am approaching a business lets say Alfa mart or a 711 I drive around it if possible to see if it has a rear exit door. If I cannot drive I walk around it. I like to know where the exit point is besides the front door in case of a robbery or I had to escape for some reason. Knowing the exit has saved me before in my law enforcement career.
I do not park right in front. I try to park on the side or another spot so I can walk up. I walk up and look in the window first before entry. I look to make sure a robbery in progress is not happening. If something is not right, I can retreat and make a call to the police. I still keep a position of advantage using minimum of concealment or better yet cover.
For me if I am armed, I like to keep a watchful eye in an effort to protect others inside in case the robbery turns out to be a deadly situation not just a money grab. If the suspect just takes money and not hurt anyone, I will allow him to leave and not engage him as I will be a good witness for arriving law enforcement officer while I am still on the phone with dispatch. I have on occasion just put my phone in my pocket and had my firearm ready to act in case the suspect decided to shoot the clerk upon exit.
Why do I not engage? If I am not active law enforcement and no one committed a violent crime, I do not want to get in a shootout in front of the store where it is possible an innocent civilian can get hit by a stray bullet. Be a good witness and assist.

When I go to a place like a restaurant for example, I look for immediate indicators upon entry. I do not sit right away I scan the room and look for indicators and then make a decision. What’s an immediate indicator? It is something just does not look or feel right. It may be 32 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit and someone is sitting in the restaurant alone or at a table with others and is wearing a heavy coat sweating.

That is an immediate indicator to me and I would normally not dine there. I would leave and go somewhere else. That sometimes causes a bit of confusion with family and friends but later when I explain to them that I rather not put us in a compromising situation where my experience tells me something is quite wrong, they understand. Now granted that person could be cold to being sick and sweating to being sick but I don’t want to catch what they have either!

So there were no immediate indicators upon entry. So I always sit to the rear of the restaurant where I can see the front door and know where the exit is as I ask where the fire exit is located. It usually in the back of the restaurant even in malls it leads to a rear hallway access to the mall. I make this a habit of knowing where if I don’t see it.

Now I sat down facing the door. I keep an eye on other patrons scanning for imprint for concealed carry weapons. Many do not know how to carry concealed and they imprint the weapon on their clothes. I look for people carry bags for firearms like my wife’s here in the Philippines. I keep an eye on the door or front entry of the establishment for new patrons entering. I do a scan of them as well for immediate indicators. I t may be something simple as the clothing discussed or the aura of someone entering. When you have experience with bad guys and killers you know who they are easily. Not all but most. The highly intelligent ones such as serial killers are very difficult to spot. I am looking for protentional robbery suspects in this situation.
When I am walking, I always keep my hands free or at least my dominant hand free. I wear a back pack sometimes to keep both my hands free and carry items if I go shopping and have to walk. If I am walking with my wife she stays on my non dominant side. I fi am walking with a group I walk behind them to be in a position of advantage where I can see incoming threats and act.
If I see someone that I get a bad feeling about I cross the street in an effort to remove myself from a protentional threat. Sometimes it can not be avoided and I make sure I am not on the cell phone looking down while walking. I see this all the time and for situational awareness this is a big no no. you cannot be situationally aware when you are not paying attention to your surroundings.

If something feels not right it probably is. Do not walk to dark areas or in parking garages with out a flashlight to look in dead space areas (areas you cannot see). Use of the flashlight can ward off attackers or give you an edge in an ambush so you are not surprised by someone lurking in the shadows. I kindly say “Hi I did not see you in the shadows there, Sorry I blinded you with my flash light. The police are here looking for a lost child.” If they are a bad guy, they usually wont call your bluff and leave just in case it was not a bluff.”
Be aware of women attackers or accomplices as well. Don’t think because it is a beautiful woman that you are not in danger. Many criminals use these women to throw you off guard captured by their beauty. They may lead you to a location where you will become a victim of robbery or organ harvesting.

I have seen this before as an officer it really happens. Sometimes the woman plays a victim of a crime or the car is broken down in a remote area. I am not saying do not stop and render aid as we want to help as good Samaritans. Watch for indicators that something is not right. Just be helpful but guarded and access the scene for safety. For example, a beautiful woman all dressed up driving a large van in high heels with all tinted windows. She has a flat on the side of the van door which is parked adjacent to a wall. So it very easy for others to open the van door and pull you in without others seeing due to the wall.

Women be careful as well they lure not only men but women as well to kidnap for sex slaves in these cases.
Be vigilant out there is the best advise and train yourself to be aware and if something does not feel right there is nothing wrong with backing away and calling for help. You can tell that beautiful woman I will go get help for you and drive up a bit and call for help. By driving up a bit you can still have visual on the person to make sure help arrives and they are safe.
Under no circumstances unlock your car door and let that person is they make have others waiting for you to unlock the car door to make entry and kidnap you and rob you or worse.
This in no way is meant to alarm you. I went from giving my input of what I do to giving you advice on scenarios I have first hand experience as a law enforcement officer. Learn form others mistakes and misfortunes so it does not happen to you.

Coach out be safe!

Coach Adam Brooks

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