By: Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI 

Emergency Preparedness Tile_sm

Situational awareness is defined by various government agencies as the ability to identify, process, and comprehend critical information about an incident. This takes vigilance, practice and sometimes just trusting your gut, and there are specific activities that might inspire the appropriate action to diffuse a threat – or even save a life – when you’re faced with a crisis event. 

What is Situational Awareness?  

Situational awareness is the ability to pay attention to your environment and recognize anomalies while you conduct normal activities. In some cases, situational awareness can help with active shooter prevention. 

This may sound complicated, but it’s something you’ve likely seen before. When airline flight attendants go over the safety card before take-off, that’s situational awareness. When the moderator at a conference points out the exits, that’s establishing situational awareness. Non-verbal cues also exist, such as the lighted exit signs at a movie theater, which are designed to help raise situational awareness. 

How Can You Practice Situational Awareness?  
  • Study a model of a room to show where to sit for situational awareness. 
  • Create a baseline awareness of your environment. This doesn’t just have to be your workplace; it can be any public setting, like a restaurant or a movie theater. 
  • Note the behavior of the people around you. Note their gestures, speaking volume, behavior, and the distance between people. Have a plan of action. Imagine any type of danger: Fire, active assailant etc. What would you do? How would you exit? Create a plan and always be mindful of your exits. If you think about your plan enough, it will improve your reaction time and how you respond to the crisis.  
  • Trust your instincts. If something seems off, determine where the anomaly is coming from and remember your action plan.
  • Keep your focus. Phones and headphones can distract you and you could miss anomalies. 
  • See something. Say something. The Department of Homeland Security has a long-established campaign that’s geared toward domestic terrorism and has application for how to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement. 
Situational Awareness Aids In Active Assailant Prevention  

Situational awareness reduces our risk to a crisis because it allows us to identify anomalies before they escalate. We gain precious seconds to respond, de-escalate or escape. In some cases, situational awareness can help with active assailant prevention.  

In the free TPOP and FMI digital seminar series, you and your team can learn more about situational awareness; verbal de-escalation techniques; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Run, Hide, Fight” methodology. The next installment on Behavioral Indicators and Situational Awareness is on December 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET. We urge you to tune in and learn these important tips that can help train your muscle memory to prepare for a crisis.   

Learn More About The TPOP Digital Seminar Series