The Boy Scout motto is, “Be Prepared.” We usually think this means to know how to tie the appropriate knot or to apply proper first aid techniques or to know how to build a fire. Being prepared also means a Scout should be conscious of his surroundings. Conscious of surroundings does not just mean which way is north or how far is camp or when is the next meal. It means to be aware of what is happening as you walk to school or walk through the mall or drive down the highway.
In the October 2009 issue of Reader’s Digest in his article “Be Your Own Bodyguard” Joe Kita has an interesting quote from a security expert who has been assigned to every presidential detail since Gerald Ford. Thomas Taylor says, “Criminals are looking for easy victims, people who aren’t paying attention.” He recommends that you keep a look out for anyone who looks out of place or does not fit in.
I recently took a defensive handgun course at the Front Sight training facility in Nevada. Front Sight has developed a “Color Code of Mental Awareness.” The condition colors are White, Yellow, Orange, Red, and Black.
Condition White. This is where a person would like to be in an ideal world. Not a care in the world. Listening to tunes on an Ipod and strolling along. Unaware and unprepared. We have all been there. The example used by Front Sight- as you walk around a corner, someone jumps out at you and says, “BOO.” What do you do? You are probably a little surprised, maybe a little shocked, maybe a little afraid. Would you want to be trying to make a plan to escape from a robber or a molester or another criminal in those first few seconds after you heard BOO? Confusion makes you vulnerable. Condition White is not where you want to be.
Condition Yellow. This is where you are alert and relaxed. You are aware of your surroundings and observe what is happening. You are not paranoid that someone is going to attack you; you are conscious of what is going on around you. You can listen to your Ipod and still watch the groups of people walking near you. Does anyone seem out of place? Is anyone wearing clothing that does not fit the environment or time of year? Does anything look out of place? In a movie theater as you take your seat, notice where the alternate exits are. Be Aware. By understanding your environment you can anticipate problems, plan a way to avoid them or plan a way to deal with the problem.
Condition Orange. This is where you have identified a specific, potential threat. You come out of the movie theater in the mall and it seems like some has started to follow you. If this happens, you need to do two things. First you have to make some maneuver that forces the other person to show that he is following you. Go up the escalator and change directions. Go into a store and go out another exit. Second you begin to formulate a plan in case the threat is real. Usually the evasive maneuver is enough to prevent things from going further. Criminals are not interested in someone who knows that an attack is coming. They are interested in the person who is in Condition White.
Condition Red. This is where you know the threat is real and focused on you. This is where you plan what steps you are going to take. Yell for help. Run toward an area where assistance is available. Use your keys as a weapon. Do you have a knife that you can use? Gouge the eyes. Determine what your response is going to be. More importantly, determine what is going to trigger that response. Draw a mental line in the sand so that whenever your attacker crosses that line you execute your response plan. If you do not set the mental trigger you will still be deciding what to do when you should be acting. Decide when you are going to try to run for safety. If that does not work, decide at what point you are going to take the next action.
Condition Black. This is where you have to implement your plan. As you near Condition Black you need to be developing a “Combat Mind Set.” This is difficult to do in our normal society. In this situation, you are not in our normal society- you are in a combat situation. You need to be mentally prepared to bring the fight to your attacker. You want to be mentally prepared to do whatever you need to do so that you are the one who walks away from the situation. If you are worried that what you are planning might hurt your attacker or might not be “nice”, you reduce your chance of winning.
If you adopt the color code of mental awareness, most of the time you will not even get to Condition Orange. Being attentive in Condition Yellow is usually enough to avoid the situation. Certainly the evasive maneuver in Condition Orange will deter an attacker most of the time. The only time you get to Condition Red or Black is when the attacker has targeted you specifically. If you are the target, then it is good to have planned how to handle a situation. Understanding and using the color system is not paranoia. It is being aware. It is planning how to protect yourself.