Are You Safety Fit?

Are You Safety Fit? Security expert Spencer Coursen from Coursen Security Group discusses the importance overall fitness plays in everyday safety.

Did you know that staying in shape will not only help you to live a  healthier life, but will also help to keep you safe from harm?  It’s true!

Lions stalking their prey in the wild don’t target the strongest of the herd —they attack the weakest. Criminals assess their “likelihood of success” the same way. They confront those least-likely to put up a fight.  The positive, protective, and confident posture you promote by being in shape not only serves as a deterrent from potential attackers, but being safety-fit will also greatly increase your survivability in an emergency.

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Emergencies are a lot like broken elevators; they typically occur when we are least expecting and most ill-prepared. Too many of us have found ourselves winded and sore after having to muster intense physical exertion at an unexpected time. When your life is on the line, you don’t want to be the one wishing they had done their workouts. You want to be the one who is forever grateful that they had.

As you go about your day, take a moment to notice your surroundings and the physical obstacles you may encounter if faced with the unexpected. You can then draw from these observations for inspiration when creating your fitness plan. It helps to think about how an exercise might be able to help you in a real-world emergency scenario.

For Example:

  • Live/work on a top floor? Elevators are one of the first things to stop working. Whenever time permits, take the stairs. Want to do more? Try adding some stadium runs, hill sprints, and the stair master to your workout regimen.
  • Live in an earthquake zone?  Doing more push-ups and a heavier bench-press just may save your life. The more total weight you can move, the easier it will be to to push fallen objects off you. Chest strength doubles for pushing bad guys away from you, providing those precious seconds you need to run away.
  • Need to barricade a door and/or keep it pushed closed? Squats and shoulder presses will serve you well in this scenario.
  • Ever been stuck in an elevator? Box jumps and pull-ups will help you escape through the ceiling panel.
  • Don’t forget to do some sprints. In today’s schools and office environment, a 10K run to safety may not be likely, but having to run as fast as you can down a hallway, down some stairs, or across the street  is actually very realistic. On a nearby track, sprint the straightaways and jog the curves to recover. Training on a treadmill?  Try interval sets: sprint for 15 seconds, then drop speed to recover 30 seconds, repeat 5 times. Walk for 2-3 minutes, and then do it all again.

Short on time? My good friends, Whitney and Byron at Fitness and Fuel LA  design position-specific workouts for professional athletes. For staying everyday safety fit, they recommend an intense circuit of functional exercises such as pushups, planks, burpees, crunches and lunges, which when performed to failure can certainly work up a sweat!

Awareness + Preparation = Safety

Effective self-defense begins long before a physical altercation. Awareness of your surroundings, awareness of your environment, and awareness of what looks out of place, prepares you physically and mentally for what may come next. Being aware and engaged with your environment also promotes a confidence that is often your first line of defense in convincing a would-be-attacker that they will have a greater chance of success targeting someone else.

“Prepare Today For A Safer Tomorrow”

For those times you do find yourself out on that long run, remember to identify a few Safe Havens along the way. Remember that grocery stores, restaurants, and supermarkets are just as likely to offer help as the local police station and firehouse.

When in doubt, run to a restaurant. Restaurants are easy to identify and easy to remember. Restaurants are designed to accommodate large groups of people. They will have food and water, rest rooms, and they will likely have a basic medical kit in the kitchen. A restaurant will also have hard-lined phones and internet connections so you can call for help and let loved ones know you are OK should the cell towers go down.

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This article originally appeared here on LinkedIn by Spencer Coursen.

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Spencer Coursen is the President of Coursen Security Group. He is an expert security advisor, threat assessment consultant, and protective strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.SpencerCoursen.com

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

@SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.facebook.com/Coursen.CSG

Expert security consultant Spencer Coursen in NYC
Spencer Coursen, Expert Security Consultant and Protective Strategist

“Soft Target” Safety: Protecting Your Business From Targeted Attack

Security Expert Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group discusses how soft targets can help protect themselves from being targeted.

Renewed concerns for “soft-target” safety dominate the news cycle today after terrorist took hostages at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali.

This tragic news comes as Paris is still processing the deadly attacks in the city of lights, and one can’t help but be reminded of similar attacks on a popular hotel in Somalia that left more than 14 people dead and dozens more injured, or the attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia that left 21 dead.

The argument will always be made that we can’t protect everything all of the time.  If that statement is true, than the converse must also be true: They can’t attack everything all the time. What we must understand is that for the violent offender, their act of violence is of greater significance than the target of their action. This makes ‘likelihood of success’ the single most influential factor of target selection.  We can no longer afford to live in a world where they simply hope that nothing will happen, and then solely rely on the first responders to save the day once something does. Our focus needs to shift from being reactive to proactive. To do our best to prevent these tragic outcomes from ever becoming a reality in the first place.

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What we CAN do is lower the likelihood of being targeted.  We CAN ensure that the policies and procedures we have written down as doctrine are the same as what are being put into practice.  We CAN raise our level of awareness to the vulnerabilities which surround us, and then bring those concerns to the decision makers so that those issues may be effectively addressed. We CAN prepare today for a safer tomorrow.

 

Take An Honest Look At Your Current Protective Measures

Most business leaders are aware of the risk associated with bringing their services into the marketplace, but what about those concerns inherent to their actual place of business? However unlikely it may be for a business to be directly targeted, the reality is that too few businesses have taken any proactive measures to effectively reduce their vulnerability.  Today’s owners have a responsibility to understand the limitations of antiquated and reactive security measures and learn as much as they can about more proactive practices that today’s operating environment requires. The modern marketplace offers a host of consultative and technological advantages to help ensure the safety of all involved.

 

Promote A Positive, Personal Interaction

Greeters, information providers, security guards, or a host who simply says hello to every person who comes near your venue is an effective yet non-invasive approach to promoting a positive protective posture. The everyday human interaction resulting in an unshared concern is arguably the greatest untapped source of protective intelligence available to any business of any size.  The psychological deterrence of a simple inter-personal communication carries much more weight than the thought of “being watched.”  Human interaction offers an immediate notification of potential harm. If a personal interaction triggers something suspicious, immediate attention can be called to the situation. This human approach is a much more practical application than sole reliance on  someone in a command center noticing something suspicious.

 

Access Control

Access Control saves lives. A venue’s ability to pre-determine where an initiation of violence must first take place allows for a venue’s protective resources to be allocated where they will be most effective – at the point of entry! 

It is perfectly possible for a place of business to have an open and welcoming environment, but there is no need whatsoever to give all who enter free-reign throughout the entire facility. Banks do this well. While the lobby is relatively “open” to the public, few have access to get behind the teller desks, and even fewer have access to the vault.

 

Keys, Doors, and Locks

Keeping people out is easier than getting them out. Effectively controlling who’s allowed through your front door is especially important if once someone is allowed inside there is nothing preventing them from having free-reign throughout the rest of your establishment.

The problem with keys is that they work all the time. Keys are cheap, frequently lost, and easy to copy. Keys don’t validate their user the way card readers and key-codes do. Consider dual-authentication options to limit and monitor access.

 

Social Media Awareness

Geofeedia  has perfected a method for providing real-time, location-based, social media intelligence to small business owners, hotel managers, restaurateurs, and security teams that helps to promote a better understanding of the social postings inherent to their specific location.  This kind of real-time intelligence can be invaluable in helping a business to ensure that your customer needs and concerns are being effectively addressed.

 

Safe Haven

A safe haven is nothing more than a place you know you can go to be safe. Everyone knows if there is a fire to evacuate the building. What most people don’t know is where to go next. In an emergency, it’s always best to go from unsafe to safe. The parking lot fifty feet from the building may be a safe distance from a fire in the break room, but it is not a universal safety precaution from other threats that are just as likely to occur. During an active shooter event, hiding under your desk or behind an office door likely won’t do much good either (bullets travel through doors and walls.)

If you have the physical ability to run…RUN. A moving target – especially one gaining distance with each step  —  is hard to hit. Take some time to talk with your staff about where you can all go for accountability, continuity, and safety should you ever have to leave the office in a hurry. Even if it’s just to the Starbucks down the street, make sure everyone knows where to go and knows how to get there. Identifying safe havens is a lot like wearing your seatbelt: Often just a precaution, but invaluable when needed.

Read: Bomb Threats: How safe is your evacuation plan?

Protective Intelligence

Protective Intelligence is the process for collecting and assessing information about persons who have interest, motivation, intention and practical capability to do harm. When it comes to identifying and assessing those events that are most likely to be a concern, information is invaluable:

  • The creepy, curly haired guy you noticed going through the work trash out back, write it down;
  • The flower delivery guy who for-whatever-reason made the hair on your neck stand-up, write it down;
  • See the obsessive gym guy who won’t take no for an answer driving by your office, write it down.

Someone may not see everything, but everything is seen by someone. The smallest things can be huge indicators when viewed through the prism of space and time. If you see something, say something, because chances are that others saw something too. Even if you talk about it with your coworkers in the break room, writing it down while it’s still fresh in your mind will not only serve as confirmation of what you saw, but will provide a time/date stamp to compare against similar reports.

Those wishing to act with violent intent must engage in some aspect of research and planning that makes their behaviors observable to the general public. Trespassing, surveillance, and attempting to breach security are all pre-incident indicators of violence.

Start a simple email address at work that can be universally used by all, like “concern@BusinessName.com” The more puzzle pieces you provide, the more likely a potential hazard can be managed toward peaceful resolve. After access control, an effective protective intelligence and threat assessment program is the next most important precaution for reducing risk and preventing violence.

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Conclusion

Everyday vigilance is a small price to pay for the liberties and the freedoms which flow so freely from peace, but the burden is ours to bare. Safety is a communal responsibility, and there is still so much more we can do to help ensure the certainty of future safety.

Taking a few moments to put a plan in place is sometimes all that is needed to prepare today for a safer tomorrow.

Awareness + Preparation = Safety


Spencer Coursen is a nationally recognized threat management expert who has an exceptional record of success in the assessment, management, and resolution of threats, domestic and global security operations, investigations, policy authorship, and protective strategy.

Spencer Coursen | Threat Management Expert

School Safety Made Simple

Teacher Intelligence -- Human Intelligence with a Teacher's Touch. Security expert Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group has developed an anonymous reporting application that improves administrator awareness of evolving concerns within an a school's ecosystem.

 

 

www.TeacherIntelligence.com

Awareness + Preparation = Safety

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Spencer Coursen is the President of Coursen Security Group. He is an expert security advisor, threat assessment consultant, and protective strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.spencercoursen.com 

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen

Talking To Kids About Terrorism

"Talking To Kids About Terrorism" Security expert Spencer Coursen discusses appropriate talking points for parents to use when talking to their kids about terrorism.

If your child was anywhere near news or social media this weekend they were very likely exposed to comments, hashtags, or photos relating to the terrorist attacks in Paris.  This means they very likely have questions — even if they haven’t figured out how to ask them yet.

When bad things happen to good people, parents to want to shield their children from the horrors of the world. Parents will do anything to ensure the physical safety and the emotional well-being of their child. Instead of avoiding these tough-to-talk-about times, choose to use them as an opportunity to replace any anxieties your child may have with empowering lessons they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

It may be best if you can initiate the dialogue with your child to see what they know, what they think they know, and what they want to know. This will  help you to separate the facts from whatever fictions are fueling their fears.

You can then use this information to frame your conversation in the most age-appropriate manner possible and instill within them the certainty of their future safety.

There Are No Foolish Fears

Children have active imaginations and will sometimes envision a course of action that may not be rational or realistic. This is especially true of younger children who are afraid that something bad will happen to their family.  It is very important that children not be made to feel like their fears are foolish. Instead, do your best to replace their fears with facts. In times of uncertainty, children are looking for reassurance.

For younger children, explain to them that they are safe and loved, and that you will always be there to protect them. If they are older, it is perfectly acceptable to explain to them that even though the attacks in Paris were tragic, these types of attacks are very rare.

For both age groups, focus on the good: the first responders who rushed to help; the police who stopped the offenders; and the people who opened their homes to strangers. This is also perfectly appropriate time to remind your children about the precautions you take to protect yourself, as well as the everyday safety precautions taken to safeguard your home and their school.  Try to realign their fears toward a more positive focus by assuring your children just how much  they are safe, loved, and protected.

Children Need a Trusted Source of Information

Parents should not feel burdened to “know everything.” If your child asks you a question and you are unsure of how to respond, “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out right now” is a perfectly acceptable answer.  So is, “That’s a really important question, and I want us to take time to discuss this. How about tonight at dinner?”  This will buy you the time you need seek out the best advice to answer your child’s specific questions.

This response also serves two important purposes:

  1. It establishes the parent as a trusted source of information in their children’s lives.
  2. It removes the fear factor some children have of not asking their parents a questions for fear “they won’t know.”

Empowering your child with the comfort and confidence to come to you with any questions they may have lays the foundation for future — more challenging — subject matter conversations.

Empower Your Child with a  Simple Safety Strategy

Teaching your child what to do if there is an emergency is just as important as doing your very best to protect them from harm. When talking to children about safety, try do so calmly without raising their level of anxiety.  Provide your child with simple solutions to problems they can solve themselves. Ideally, you want to have them be engaged in their own decision making process, to utilize their own problem-solving skills, and then practice those skills in a safe learning environment. Teaching children about safety on the streets is no different then teaching them about the hazards of fire. We don’t simply teach them that fire is dangerous, we have them practice STOP, DROP, AND ROLL.

Reassure your children that the world is full of good, decent, hardworking people who will do almost anything to help a young child in need. Empower them with realistic and practical actions they can take if they have an emergency and no one they know is nearby to help.

The 3 F’s of “Family, Food and Flags” are easy-to-remember reminders for where children can find help:

FAMILIES – or any adult with young children can be trusted to ask for help.

FOOD – anywhere food is served or sold is a good place to ask for help. Food providers are checked and inspected prior to being given a permit. If your child is ever in trouble and they don’t know where to go teach them to Run to a Restaurant.

FLAGS – Flags are friendly. Buildings waiving flags or anyone with a flag on their uniform like police officer, a fireman, or a soldier can be trusted to help.

Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group discusses The 3 F’s of “Family, Food and Flags” are good reminders for where children can go to get help

Remember:  The more educated your child becomes about the realities of the world around them, the less likely they will be to succumb to the the fantasies of their fears. Cultivating an open and honest conversational relationship with your child will help to reduce the possibility of emotional difficulties and will promote the resiliency your child needs to live a safe, secure, and successful life.

Updated:  Watch as this little boy realizes only love can protect Paris.

“The flowers and the candles are here to protect us.”

We can no longer teach our children only about the good in the world.  We need to frame their expectations to the bad as well.  Not to be afraid, but to be aware. To understand that in all of us their is both good and evil. Because, sometimes bad things have to happen so that the good in us can grow stronger. For only when we embrace the good in us can our souls grow bigger, our minds think clearer, and our hearts love deeper.

That everyday has both day and night, but that even the darkest nights have stars in the sky — and that’s how you know that the light is winning.

Awareness + Preparation = Safety

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Spencer Coursen is the President of Coursen Security Group. He is an expert security advisor, threat assessment consultant, and protective strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.SpencerCoursen.com

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

@SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.facebook.com/Coursen.CSG

TeachInt: Human Intelligence With A Teacher’s Touch

Teacher Intelligence -- Human Intelligence with a Teacher's Touch. Security expert Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group has developed an anonymous application that improves administrator awareness of evolving concerns within an a school's ecosystem.

For far too long long, the safety of our nation’s schools have fallen victim to a vicious cycle of debate between the desires of partisan politics and the reality of budgetary constraints.

In the end nothing changes, and we are forced to fall back to the antiquated methodologies of reacting to these concerns, rather than preventing them from ever happening in the first place.

The cycle of concern that plagues the hearts and minds of parents everywhere must come to an end.

We can no longer afford to send our children off to school simply hoping that nothing will happen and then solely relying on the first responders to save our loved ones once something does. 

 “In today’s schools, there is all too often an emphasis placed on analyzing a specific act within the context of an isolated incident, rather than taking the ‘totality of circumstance’ into consideration before rendering an assessment. This program removes the complications of the reporting process and facilitates awareness through an anonymous, simple, yet effective application. Our goal is to to help ensure the emotional and physical well-being for all involved by empowering the individual observer to have a positive impact on future safety.”  ~Spencer Coursen

Awareness + Preparation = Safety

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Spencer Coursen is a nationally recognized threat management expert who has an exceptional record of success in the assessment, management, and resolution of threats, domestic and global security operations, investigations, policy authorship, and protective strategy.

Spencer Coursen | Threat Management Expert

Spencer Coursen | Threat Management Expert | Washington, DC