Situational Awareness For Everyone - Lesson Plan: SAFE Lvl One Part 4 of 5

in education •  last year 

Banner Pic SAFE On The Lookout 2018.jpg

This is part four of a five part series of lesson plans for the Situational Awareness For Everyone (S.A.F.E.) level one course I developed at SATAS Co. I believe those in the emergency preparedness community will find this very helpful. This course is designed to be meaningful to all citizens. You are free to review this material, you may even share this material - so long as links to the original material and credit are given to this author, me, V. Andrew McMillan of SATAS Co.

Lesson Plan

Topic/Title: SAFE One Lesson 4/Threat Assessment

Presenter/Instructor: V. Andrew McMILLAN

Lesson Length: 20 Minutes

Required Resources:
Supplies/Reference Materials
Demo Items
Pens, Pencils & Stationery (PP&S)


Threat Assessment, this is theory being put into action. We will first review some of the current theories for programming your critical thinking, as well as, working through a decision making flow chart. We will discuss how our personal lens/filter alters and interprets what we see and how we perceive threats. Finally, we will explore some real world examples and discuss observation techniques for identifying threats before they are threats and how not to be deceived by those using role camouflage. Once we can identify threats we will be ready to advance to making response plans – which is the lesson after this one.

Main Topic:

Threat Assessment is the critical thinking process of taking what we observe, how we filter this information, come to recognize that we are in harm's way, and then know we need a plan.

Currently, USAF Colonel John BOYD is recognized as the first pioneer of taking gut reactions to a formalized plan. He was working on training air force pilots to survive dogfights with fighter jets during the Vietnam War. He created the OODA Loop or Boyd's Cycle:
(Link to Wikipedia -
Observe – Orient – Decide – Act = OODA. The diagram on Wikipedia shows that this is more than just a single dimension loop, but an interactive feedback loop. Hard to draw but easy enough to understand once you have worked through it a couple of times. BOYD was working on a simple plan to program the pilots thinking process so they can make decisions faster and ultimately interrupt the OODA Loop of their adversary, thus winning the aerial dogfight.

Other organization also use formatted thinking to help leaders make the best decision in the time available. Anyone familiar with search & rescue operations will be familiar with SCORPA, an acronym for:
Size up the Situation
Objectives & Goals
Resources required

Critical thinking is always a balancing act between the information available and the time allowed to make a decision. Whether flying a fight jet or driving at highway speeds, the time available will be less than a second or two. However, because of repeated practice exercises of what would I do mind is already programmed to make those action happen when you need them. Some decisions however, you may get minutes or hours to devise a plan, and hopefully you will have more information/data to base your decision on. Just remember the most important phase is to actually action your plan. In situational awareness, failing to make a decision or failing to action your plan will both have consequences, usually negative. Making a decision and actioning a plan may also have negative consequences but this has to weighed against not doing anything and balanced against how much time or information was available at the time it was needed.

To help with this process, let's have a look at the Threat Assessment Flow Chart. (Insert full page illustration.)

T A Flow.jpg

Thinking is not a pure linear process, so we will start with you enjoying your journey through life.
1.The first point is when we observe, identify or recognize a threat to our journey through life.
2.Next we have to quickly filter what we have identified – Can it hurt me? If no, we short cut to the review process. If it can hurt....
3.Can I avoid it? Yes, then avoid it – then short cut to the review process. If not......
4.Can I minimize the impact or damage? Can I escape? Are there any other options? If not primal programming will select “fight”.
5.If you can escape, are you being followed or pursued??
6.If you have to fight, can you break contact? Yes, then break contact. If not...
7.WIN THE FIGHT. If you escaped earlier and find your are not out of danger you too will be forced to win the fight.
8.Once you are safe or after winning the fight, you need to get a safe distance from the threat.
9.Review the incident – informally or formally. What did I do right. What did not work well. What can I do next time to achieve a better outcome.
10.Adjust your plan – internal or formal plan.
11.Now you have to reset your mind and be ready to enact your threat assessment again.
12.Continue on your journey through life. Be observant. Be ready.

This process happens hundreds to thousands of times a day, everyday. By programming your mind to make decisions in this manner, each time you experience a new situation you add to your knowledge library of responses and you know from previous outcomes what are you best first options to try. For those who are still young, you will have the option of learning from your mistakes or chose the path of wisdom and learn from those who have been through similar situations before you. Their experiences, if you take them to heart, will help speed up your learning curve.

Now that we have an understanding how we have our mind react. We need to spend a little time on developing our observation skills. It is by observing the world that we first learn that danger may be in our BUBBLE. We can all look at the world around us but how many of us truly see what is around us??

Observation is the process of taking in the information from our eyes, ears, nose/tongue & skin, filtering it through our BUBBLE and then making an impression on our mind. Thus, things we program into our mind to be “normal” can come back to harm us, when we do not recognize the threat because we overlooked an image because the pizza delivery man is not a threat. But was it really the pizza dude?? I will explain “Role Camouflage” in more depth in a moment.

So, who do we overlook on a daily basis?? The mailman?? Newspaper boy?? The lady who delivers the Chinese food?? The cable repair guy?? Taxi drivers?? Dry cleaner's delivery person?? How about construction crews?? First responders?? Would you notice if any of these people listed were the regular employee or an impostor?? Do you know your pizza delivery guy?? How about the paper boy?? How about your neighbours?? People who are normalized to us as “servants” are not really perceived. Period. When you want your pizza in 20 minutes or less, the pizza dude is damn important, but other than attention is paid.

There is more to this than just people we expect to see. How about when in any retail shop, ever pay attention to how many people carry a knife in their front pocket?? Right pocket for right-handed or left pocket for left-handed, the easy tell is the metal pocket clip that is on the outside of the pocket. Never noticed, I am not surprised. Night clubs and bars, the bouncer or security staff usually disarm these folks before they get into a place that serves alcohol. Weapons and mind-altering substances is a poor mix.

How else can we protect ourselves.....ever left your mail in your car, just for a few minutes while you go into the store to buy some groceries?? Did you leave the mail face up so strangers can read your address?? Did you put your mail in the backseat where it is harder to be read?? Do you consciously pay attention to whether you leave your mail face up or face down?? Or do you keep your mail in a daypack when not in your vehicle?? How about your cellphone?? Do you use a password to lock the keypad?? Do you ever leave it unattended?? Do you ever talk on your cell while walking in public?? Have you heard of phone snatching??

Speaking of walking....going back to the article On Sheep, Wolves and Sheep Dogs; when the wolves are on the hunt they watch the flock. They focus on the lambs that do not take any precaution to protect themselves. Those who walk in crowds by keeping their eyes focused on the sidewalk a step or two in front and never look up....guess what the wolves have spotted you. Then they work themselves to a location to interfere with your path of travel. Then they force you off your path and take whatever they want. Now, back to observing. When you are walking in downtown Big City, if you keep your head up, and you look side-to-side and occasionally look behind you or look up at overpasses or down at underpasses; the wolves will see this and they will pass you by......the wolves know you are situationally aware and you are looking for hazards/threats. The wolves will avoid you, if they can find the helpless lambs who are easy kills.

Role Camouflage – is the active art of deception, by adopting those roles in Society that no one pays attention to – the janitor, pizza dude, cable guy, taxi driver, etc. As we discussed previously, these are occupations that are seen as below the people, however, they are necessary. As such, those who “borrow” these roles to mingle with neighbourhoods or to infiltrate buildings, when their actions are finished and the police investigate the witnesses will always say, “I saw a copy repair guy enter our floor. His visitor access pass was not working and he was needed to fix the copier on this floor and I let him into our office area.....” How was that employee to know that the copier had just been fixed in the morning?? Nor was that employee to know that they just granted access to their work area to an industrial spy?? If the employee was situational aware, they would have directed the copy repair guy to the security kiosk on the main floor or at the very least told the repair guy that it was a firing offense to allow unauthorized persons to by-pass security checkpoints. Those who are playing a “role” are very good at seeking sympathy from caring people to achieve their mission goals. They will lie. They will tell tall tales. They will use emotions against you. They manipulate people as part of their profession and they are very good at it. If something does not seem right, listen to you gut....something is probably wrong. Use your moral compass to guide your actions. This does not only happen at work/office. These “role” players can come to your home, too. Gas company. Electrical company. Cable company. Once they are in your home, who knows what their mission is & whom they work for, much less where you fit in. Situational awareness is “on” 24/7. The more often you are aware the easier it becomes.

Questions From Class (QFC):


In this lesson we have started to put our theory into action by observing and recognizing hazards and threats that are around us everyday, whether at work, at home or at play. We have been introduced to role camouflage and how that can be used against what we have programmed our minds to believe is “normal”. We have started to use the Threat Assessment Flow Chart to start programming our mind to filter and identify threats.

The Threat Assessment is only part one of a two part system. Part two will be your Response Plan.

Questions To Class (QTC):

Who do we not notice when walking downtown any city?? Street people?? Garbage man?? Couriers??


You have been a good class. I believe you have quickly absorbed this material. I can see many of you have your eyes wide open now. You are hungry to learn more, specifically how do I deal with these things you just opened my eyes to see.

Your next lesson will continue with developing your Response Plan.

Thank you.

Your next lesson is with: ____________________________________________

Who will be discussing: ____________________________________________

At: ________ hrs, in the main lecture room. (or __________________________.)

Part five will follow in the next day or two. Thank you for reading. V.A.M.

Links to Parts One, Two & Three:

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!