Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What Condition Are You In?

The military and police are trained to be ready - their jobs inherently put them in circumstances which are dangerous.  But as we constantly see in the news, just going to the gas station can be dangerous today.  I see people all the time with their head in the clouds, their eyes on their smartphone - oblivious to their surroundings.  

A few years back, I knew someone who lived in a very upscale area of town.  His wife went to the gas station to fill up.  She was just filling up her tank - some guy in the next row of pumps came up behind her and shot her in the head.  He then went back in his car and shot himself.  She didn't do anything to him - he was just crazy and woke up that morning determined to die and take someone with him.  

We never know what the dangers are - all we can do is be prepared.  Preparedness isn't paranoia - it is just common sense.  We must know what is going on around us.  If we are at the gas station, we look around and see what everyone else is doing - do they have anything in their hands - are they getting something out of the trunk?  When we go inside the station to buy a soda, before we walk in we look through the windows.  Are the people inside acting normally?  Are the clerks acting normally?  Do they have their hands in the air?  Are people running?  Shouldn't you look before you go walking in, just in case?  Has there ever been a hold-up before?  How do you know there isn't one happening now?

As you're driving down the street, are you aware of the other vehicles around you?  Are the occupants of the vehicles acting normally?  Is there anything up ahead or coming up quickly behind of concern?  At the workplace, are you keeping an ear open for anything out of place?  Would you spot someone acting strange?  Workplace shootings are happening more frequently - have you thought about what you would do if that scenario manifested in your place of work?

As you can see, it is very important to be in a condition of relaxed preparedness and alertness, even as we're going about our mundane activities.  Depending on what neighborhood you're in or line of work, the risk of an attack or other danger is relatively low - however the impact is very high.  In risk management, we quantify risk in terms of likelihood and impact.  A tornado hitting your datacenter is a very low likelihood, however the impact of that event would be catastrophic.  Therefore companies plan for that contingency by building alternate sites, standing up standby servers and syncing their data to that disaster recovery facility.  The business understands that, even though it is highly unlikely that the event will occur, the impact to the business would so disastrous that they had better spend the money just in case.

We must think of ours and our family's safety in the same way.  The likelihood that you will walk into a hold-up in progress is very low.  The possibility that someone will invade your home is also pretty unlikely.  However if that should occur and you are not prepared, the risk to you and your family is dire.  It is vital that we understand the risk, and understand what we can do to be better prepared.
The military and police have a set of codes or conditions based on the mindset and level of preparedness.  They are color codes - Condition White is basically when your head is in the clouds - you are oblivious to your surroundings.  This is the condition most people are in all the time - if someone had a gun and began walking in your direction, you would never see them coming.  This is a very dangerous state to be in, however it's the most common mental condition.

Condition Yellow is a state of relaxed preparedness.  In Condition Yellow you are aware of your surroundings - you recognize that danger can arise at any time in any place - although it is highly unlikely you understand the impact such an event would be.  You watch everyone around you - you know what they are doing, you know what they have in their hands.  You are, almost subconsciously, looking for anything out of place or any activity that is abnormal for the place and time.  If you spot something that looks out of the ordinary, you are already one step ahead.  If that situation appears to be dangerous, you go into Condition Red.

Condition Red is a high suspicion of danger.  You see people in the gas station running - you spot someone pulling what looks like a rifle out of their trunk - you hear what sounded like a gunshot in your workplace or hear people screaming.  You go into a state of high alert - the hair on the back of your neck probably stands up - adrenaline begins pumping.  If unprepared, you will likely freeze and panic.  If prepared, you will do what you've trained yourself to do - picking up the phone to call 911, moving quickly to a safe location, exiting the building, stopping from going into the gas station, etc.  

Condition Black is confirmation of a threat - you see the active shooter in your workplace - you see the driver next to you pointing a gun.  All your training kicks in, or you are left unprepared and act from instinct and fear.  You will either die or you won't.  That depends both on luck and your state of alertness, preparedness and training.  The soldier and the police officer understand this - they have prepared for the worst and have a better chance of surviving.  There are many things we can do as well to be better prepared.

Think about the potential for danger as you go about your day - think about these mental states and conditions.  In future posts, I will go deeper into the things we can do to prepare - things we can do to train for possible threats in terms of your physical security and safety.  We don't have to walk around in a state of paranoia - we can operate in a way that allows us to be aware of our surroundings and potential dangers, and understand the things we can do if we find ourselves in Condition Red or Black.  Stay tuned!

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