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In his recent interview with Evolution Security, my friend Ryan Mayfield of Kodiak Security Solutions made a comparison between training and the real thing, noting that the difference in the “energy” when it is real is that it is frenetic:  “like being in a straight jacket doused with gasoline and set on fire.”

There are levels, of course, to this freneticism. Early on, almost any situation can seem frenetic. You can see it on the Youtubes and other videos where people have totally lost their head and are not handling a situation very well. Overreacting and excessive. We see it in some of the police videos that get a lot of attention – among the adjectives we can use to describe the officers demeanor would be “overly excited,” “hyper vigilant,” “hesitant,” (different from pausing…) “nervous,” “fearful,” and more.

We don’t want these words used in the sentences written about our reactions.

With proper training – the stress inoculating kind, and proper modeling of behavior, and good “live” reps through experience, we can learn to manage these things in ourselves.

But some things will always be full of frenetic. Active threats, continuing resistance, especially when violence is involved, shots fired, close quarters assaults, all create a sense of being on fire – your breath rises in your throat, you feel electrified as your belly goes cold with the adrenal dump, the shaking starts, and you think “this is it! The real deal.” This is a defining moment for people who take preparation and training seriously. (There is a big difference between people who are trained, and people who take training seriously.) Can we get it back under control, or carried away by the flow of the event?

We should seek to stabilize. To be the calm in the chaos. First, control yourself: be trained and experienced, control your breathing, and center your mind on what needs to be done now. If we have been trained well, we should know what to do next – either individually in a defensive encounter or if you happen to be in charge of a response to a rapidly evolving larger scale event.  We have “templates” with which to work – whether its an encroachment by an unknown subject, or an attack by that person unarmed, or armed or whether its an armed barricade by themselves, or with potential hostages, or an active shooter. There are ways to do things that will douse the fire. A little here and there at first, maybe, but putting even a little bit of the fire out has a ripple effect on the whole.

Calm is Contagious.


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