Situational Awareness Could Save Your Life: “It’s Time To Realize These Are Dangerous Times”

by | Jul 19, 2016 | Headline News | 51 comments

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    This article has been contributed by Dr. Joe Alton via Dr. Alton and his wife Nurse Amy Alton are the authors of the must-have Survival Medicine Handbook.


    On France’s equivalent of Independence Day, a large truck with multiple occupants plowed through a large crowd in the southern city of Nice and engaged in a gunfight with police. Bystanders noted that the truck appeared to accelerate into the festive throng, killing 84 and injuring many more.

    It seems that you can’t read the news without a report of a terror event somewhere, and it’s clear that there will be more to come I believe that this is just part and parcel of what I’ve called the New Normal in recent articles.

    I’ve mentioned the concept of “situational awareness” as a way to decrease your chances of becoming a victim in future terror attacks. In these days of Pokemon Go and other smartphone distractions, you’re seeing more and more people not paying attention to their surroundings. In the past, this might get you a bump on the head for walking into a lamp post. In today’s world, however, it could cost you your life.

    Situation awareness involves understanding what’s going on in your immediate vicinity that might be hazardous to your health. I don’t mean second-hand smoke here; I’m talking about knowing what dangers may exist that you can avoid or abolish with your actions. Especially important for soldiers in a combat zone, it’s now become just as important for the average citizen in any large crowd.

    In an area at risk (anyplace where multitudes of people gather), simple things might save your life. Things like not having your hoodie up, which can be like blinders on a horse. Things like making a mental note of the nearest exit at the mall. Things like looking around for people who are nervous or, perhaps, dressed too warm for the weather. The situationally aware person will have the best chance to plan an escape when an attack occurs.

    In Nice, France, the terrorists waited for the crowd to be distracted by fireworks. Spectators who had their eyes glued to the sky wouldn’t have time to react, and this greatly increased the casualty count. The situationally aware person would always be looking around for possible threats, and these days in France, the threats are everywhere.

    In such a crowd, it would pay to be at the fringes and not in the middle. Having a wall to your back would eliminate a danger that might come at you from behind. Indoors, for example, in a movie theater, you want a view of the exits as well as the screen. If someone is behaving strangely, move away from them. If someone is screaming at the employee at the local burger joint (I said NO CHEESE!), maybe you should leave and order a pizza instead.

    It’s difficult to instill a culture of situational awareness in a population, but it can be done if you start early. When you’re out with the kids, tell them to pay attention to what’s going on where you are. Once the family has left the area, ask them how many people were there, what they were wearing, or other details. Ask them what they would have done if there was an attack. Do this often enough, and they may begin to pay less attention to their smartphones and more to their surroundings.

    All this attention to detail may seem paranoid to you, but it’s time to realize that these are dangerous times.  Incorporate situational awareness into a calm, observant mindset and you’ll gain those extra seconds that could have meant the difference between life and death for so many in Nice.

    Related: Active Shooters: When Violence is the Answer: “Denial and Hesitation Makes For A Soft Target”

    Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones, is an M.D. and fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of OB/GYN. Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Nurse Amy, is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. Together, they’re the authors of the #1 Amazon bestseller in Survival Skills and Safety/First Aid “The Survival Medicine Handbook”, well known speakers, podcasters, and YouTubers, as well as contributors to leading survival/homesteading magazines. You will find over 800 posts on medical preparedness at their web site


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      1. one thing i’ve done is to buy a cheap bulletproof vest, and take out the kevlar, and put it in the pack. one for me, one for my son at school. if a shooter is encountered, you can throw it on your back and run, or put it in front and rush him, whichever you CHOOSE, but at least you get a choice.

        • and i DO keep a military-grade bulletproof vest in the truck, so i got it when i NEED it….if you need one and you aint GOT one, chances are good you’ll never need one again. on bookoo they can be had for around a hundred(sometimes LESS) to two hundred dollars. especially if you live near a military base. keep yer chins up, and yer heads DOWN…

          • BTW, if you need a double extra large vest, better start looking NOW. they are harder to find than a fish ridin’ a bicycle!….smalls and mediums are easy and cheap, but the bigger you go, the more expensive they get. when the shootin’ starts, that double extra-lard is gonna be PRICELESS!……….maybe even MORE than that.

            • RE: Situational Awareness: In assessing anything or anybody that looks like a threat, Look to see what their hands are doing. If they are hiding in a pocket, look out. They could spring a knife on you, a gun, anything. Train yourself to watch their hands. Its the Biggest threat out there. Does a cell phone look like a gun? Cops will tell you this as they are trained to keep an eye on the Perps Hands. I was talking with a cop once in a friendly situation, and pulled out my cell phone and you should have seen this cop flinch and pull back. So don’t make sudden moves, when cops are present. You may get shot. They are a threat too.


              • LOOK AT THE HANDS
                Excellent advice! In several of the training I took they drilled this into our heads over and over. In the shoot house, all the targets were realistic images and all had “hands”, one target would get a paper gun taped to it. You would clear the room and put two into the person with a gun. Targets were black white Arabic whatever, dressed differently, some angry some not and by the end no one saw anything but HANDS or GUN.
                When I got home from four days of that, my wife and I went to a crowded farmers market and ended up with a massive headache from constantly watching hands lol.
                Am acclimated now. Am also acclimated to look down and up through the hard corner every time I enter a room, thanks TDI lol…

            • There is a very simple and logical reason that the sizes for fat guys are not readily available and cost much more ?

          • BCOD,

            I am trying to figure out how to keep my head down and my chins up!”/ I can see the importance of keeping my head down but I’m finding it near impossible to keep my chins up. Now, I’m trying to keep a stiff upper lip at the same time too”/!

            Thanks for the advice on the vest.

            Louisiana Eagle

            • situational awareness = stay away from crowds PERIOD

              • Wilson, you are correct and also pay attention to your surroundings. That is an interesting perspective concerning this Pokemon craze, and one that makes a lot of sense.
                Everyday is an opportunity. Stay quiet Be smart

            • there it is, i see your problem….you got too many CHINS!…LOL

            • Best way is to realize how to gain the proper mindset for the times we all live in, via your training, fitness and overall health and well being ! That kind of confidence and peace of mind can only be earned it cannot be purchased like nearly all prepper junk is.

              There is no reason at all to live in fear or apprehension that it affects you. There is a far better way to live and think and it is not difficult. The other option is to follow the herd.

      2. Tune all your senses to be constantly aware of 360. After a while it becomes subliminal – until the expected pattern is disrupted. Ask any field trained GI.

        Best wishes to all……

        • “If someone is screaming at the employee at the local burger joint (I said NO CHEESE!), maybe you should leave and order a pizza instead.”

          This guy does not know his ass from a hole in the ground like so many other so-called prepper professionals or experts! He needs to grow a pair and live in the present. I quit the doctor thing a long time ago and got healthy as well as nearly all so-called professionals with any initials behind their name for a good reason. They are frauds and simple salesmen with a license to steal ! His article was worthless because it is obvious he lives in fear and does not have a clue about much of anything. Of course situational awareness is a skill set to be aware of and fine tune. Don’t need a so-called prepper expert to tell me that tidbit ?

          Can you tell I am sick of the phony crap and bogus articles that say nothing and are really efforts to try and come up with something to say for the sheep that follow such nonsense ? I have been for a long while , years ! There is a far better way to live and think and it is largely FREE ! But it does require some action and that is why most stay fat and dumb !

          • What an angry so and so you must be. There is a difference between living in fear, and living aware. Dr. Alton has given some very practical and easy to institute ideas. This article was free, so get over your bitter attitude. Not everyone is out to get you.

            • No anger at all, just telling the simple truth of many matters ! You are reading into what you want to hear and likely willing to go along with the bullshit ?

              We all live in many illusions and they are all created to control you ! and I sleep very well at nite as well.

      3. perhaps it’s time to start turning in your neighbors for setting off those illegal fireworks. personlly, i can’t tell the difference between gunshots and fireworks….i shot out of bed a week before the 4th to the sound of “gunshots” right outside my bedroom window….grabbed shotgun, about to go investigate, when i saw the next round of fireworks going off in my back yard, set off my new neighbors that didn’t CARE they are illegal. i stay away from them now(never DID like them much) because it’s a great way for someone nefarious to start shooting up a crowd, with nobody noticing until it’s late in the game. best to stay away from crowds altogether.

      4. Love the Altons. Used some of their advice just recently again for self care of a minor nature. We should really practice these health care skills now when we have backup- just to get our level of confidence up. I also think it is very important to check out one’s surroundings, especially at parking lots, carwashes and service stations. Carjackings are easy to perpetrate on people now with these keyless entry devices. You just have to be close enough and scary enough to get them into the car once they trip the lock. Watch how many people are just sitting in their vehicles next time you park at the grocery store. It’s eye opening when you scan a lot purposefully.

      5. Get a rolled up Kevlar shield. Keep it in your backpack and pull it out in a crisis. Carry a pair of scissors for close quarter fights. Keep a handy trauma kit ready to do emergency first aid.

        Good points on situational awareness. We live in a distractionary society. They have got us to drop our guard; to think it is normal to have radical Muslims walk among us. But any one of them could be a spotter for an attack. People wrongly believe the police are on top of the situation or could respond in time. I think we have seen from events over the past two weeks the police are not able to respond in time. You are on your own when an attack starts.

        Be wary of people who look angry or sweaty. Or are dressed for attack. The bombers in Brussels were dressed for attack but nobody noticed the obvious signs (gloved hands on detonator buttons). People with ball caps pulled down tight to hide their eyes from CCTV; people who keep a hoodie up even when it is hot out. These are classic signs of a person up to no good. A lot of black youth do this and it is to avoid CCTV because they probably have a criminal record.

        • good one, frank. i never thought of the hoodies thing.

          • When I was in the special forces, I learned and taught street fighting skills. The sort of dirty fighting techniques that you are not supposed to know. I also made a study of all the behavior and methods of street-level, urban scumbags who work for gangs etc. We learned their ways and habits. This went into a classified handbook on how to detect gangs and gang members and assorted lowlifes that gets missed by your average civilian and even beat cops. The avoidance of detection by CCTV cameras is a sure tell of somebody up to know good. These dirtbags know there are cameras near public places and so they will go through an elaborate ballet to avoid being spotted. Few people know, but there is a software program (developed by the Japanese) that can trawl through millions of facial profiles kept in a database in seconds. It can very quickly match the image of a scumbag from a CCTV shot and then dispatch somebody to apprehend them. The Islamic radicals know this and it is why they will hide their eyes by using hats, sun glasses, hoodies, masks, false features etc. Look for this and you will know your suspect.

            • i got a buddy who’s a retired prison guard…he’s a wealth of info on spotting perps.

              • One item that comes in really handy in case of any trouble at night is an LED flashlight that’s rated for at least 800 lumens or more. I keep a 1000 lumen LED light in the truck all the time and I’ve used it on several occasions to get wanna-be hoodlums to turn around and go away. Aim it straight at their faces and it’s guaranteed to make them back off. You could blind someone with the light. It’s just that powerful. There’s a whole shitload of them to choose from. Local sporting goods stores are a good place. Amazon has a shitload of them to choose from.

                • Really good tip! There are zillions of ways to deal with street thugs that do not need to use violence. Also zillions of seemingly innocuous items that can be re-purposed to be effective fighting tools if you are cornered into such a situation (though 9 times out of 10 it is better to avoid confrontations or dangerous situations in the first place). Just don’t hang around any event or place where there is more than 2 or 3 black youths gathered, for example. Pick your social events and who you socialize with very carefully. Screen them just as you would an employee. Unfortunately, with the lack of border controls and the failure of modern society to demand any standards of behavior, you will need to do the vetting yourself. It goes without saying that certain groups are basically groups that must opt-in rather than just be taken at face value (black youths etc.).

                  • but….but…but, it SOUNDS like you’re saying we must take charge of our OWN destiny/safety? i thought it took GOVERNMENT to assure we stay safe?….sarcasm off.

                • I picked up a Felix 960 lumen. Nice and small but bright as heck. It has an 5 levels of brightness with an economy mode so you don’t wear out the battery. Also strobes.

                • I like the strobe feature on my 1300 lumen. Also a can or two of fox pepper spray can help in a pinch. There are a lot of things one can do to “neutralize” a situation. One of the best ways is to simply avoid trouble to begin with. Stay quiet Be smart

                  • i used to walk with a padlock in a sock, but if ever “caught” by the wrong cop with it…might be trouble. so the other day i was telling a friend that drives around for a living that he needed a weapon…(he’s asleep). so i fabricated a weapon right there for him…it’s my new favorite…i took about 20 feet of 550 cord, folded it a few times, tied a knot at one end, and left the loops in the other. and he already has a padlock in the front seat of the truck. in less than 5 seconds he can put lock through the loops at one end(then shut lock), and you got one hell of a weapon…until you put the two together, all u got is a padlock and some rope….might even need that cord for other uses….an added bonus

                    • why not just have a pistol and be sure ? That lock idea would likely get you in far more trouble for many reasons ?

                    • i think he likes his JOB…if caught with a gun, he would be terminated immediately…and it’s almost impossible to get a CCW here in Kali-pornia.

                    • simple solution, move to a place where civilized people live !

      6. It’s more important to be alert for groups of black people attacking white people. That’s a thousand times more common than terrorism.

        • Statistically, you are right. You are most likely to be attacked or robbed by a black person than anyone else. That holds true for both blacks and whites. Blacks will tell you they feel safest in a room of whites than walking down a street with a group of black youths coming the other way. Monitors were attached to subjects of different races to gauge their anxiety levels when in the presence of other races. All races showed great anxiety when the percentage of blacks went past 5% in any given situation. Rightly or wrongly, all subjects expressed concerns they would be assaulted or robbed.

        • Here in the Southwest hispanic gangs are the issue. They are established and doing the same things they do in Mexico. Drugs, kidnapping, protection rackets on and on. You go by a c-store at night and you’ll see a hispanic hanging outside of the store. Turns out it’s a gang banger “guarding” the store for a small consideration/money or merchandise. Basically they’re guarding the store from themselves.

      7. Stress. It’s a killer.

        Lock the doors when inside your home or car.

        •• stay calm during a crisis.

        Exercise relieves tension afterwards. Don’t rely on alcohol or tranquilizers after trauma. Instead meditation or prayer, for Catholics The Rosary, and deep breathing exercises. Also drink lots of water and take magnesium supplement and relaxing herbal tea.

        • you’re a catholic too?with all this talk of pedophiles in the catlick church, i went to confession last night. when i got seated, i leaned over and whispered”you FIRST!”

          • BCOD

            Have to remember that one. Hahaha.

            • yes, when you use THAT one, they got some pretty wild things to tell……

        • Thank you for the suggestions.

          I’m not catholic…yet.

          To all the ignorant Catholic comments. Wake up.

      8. that “Time” came for me quite a while ago

        this article is kinda slow on the up take huh?

        • “kinda slow”?….not really. in my town i’ve felt pretty safe, until NOW….and i still feel pretty good out there in daylight. there ARE areas i wouldn’t DREAM of going into at night by myself.

      9. We are from a small mountain town in western North Carolina. Historically, not much goes on that causes worry.

      10. Another Policeman shot in Kansas City. Fox news.

        Marietta Ga. Gunman try to rob gun store. Exchange fire with police.

        Also in the news. Teenagers caught trying to steal guns to be used to shoot Police.

      11. Forget products they give false security. Nothing can replace you being on top of shit. Lock your doors on your car. This prevents somone jumping in your car and holding a gun to your gut while robbing you. Lock your doors on your home. I know it’s a pain in the ass to let people in and out. You wanna be the one who decides who enters your home. Out in public you need to look like a person who cannot be fucked with. They will victimize who they perceive to be an easy target. They will not mess with a grizzly biker when they can steal granny’s purse. By the time police can get to you it’s too late. Honestly I don’t worry niggers are opportunists and I won’t give them one.

        • Could point. Always sport a ‘don’t f with me attitude’. Blacks rarely if ever attack mano-y-mano. They work in groups and swarm easy pickings. They would rather rape a granny than take the risk of getting the crap beat out of them going after a young white girl who has strong men hanging around her.

          Also use what I call ‘Street Judo’ to even the balance of forces in your favor. While most blacks hate whites and would attack you if the odds were in their favor, most Hispanics absolutely hate them, as do most Asians. Why not nudge a vicious Hispanic gang into the black neighborhood? Keeps them on their toes. Or, better still, encourage some Russian gangs to come into the area trafficking hookers. The Russians are the most hard ass and have zero respect for blacks. Asians are really good for getting the attention of authorities. Encourage Asian businesses and home owners to move in. They are very good at not only forcing politicians to act but also have their own networks (Triads etc.) who take no prisoners when their businesses get f’d with. Turks are also good for this: they happily take on blacks and wipe the floor with them.

      12. Most adult women have an inborn sense of situational awareness, we know not to accept a ride home from a creepy co-worker, we know to take money for cab fare home when going on a blind date, we know not to wait at a bus stop in front of large shrubbery and no streetlight, we know to move away casually when the creepy boss passes a leeetle too close to your fanny when passing behind you. We know to lock the car door after loading the groceries and Then walk the cart back to the collection area (In AZ I have seen older trusting folks load the groceries in the car, then forget to lock in and walk the cart back, in 5 seconds the 2 teenagers lingering nearby were at the car door, opened it and ran off with the groceries and the sales slips before the older person could get back), we know that you Never leave your purse in the grocery cart, it always stays on your shoulder. We know to put our shopping bag on the bus seat next to us when the creepy manspreader tries to sit next to us. I mourn the days when men were gentlemen and any woman feeling threatened only had to turn and look appealingly at any nearby male and he would come to her assistance, but like the comedian Gallagher said, “when you stood up for your rights, you lost your seat”..

      13. Having attended several fire fighting schools one thing we were taught is when staying in a hotel count the doorways to the staircase exit when you get your room. In case of a fire you have to stay low and visibility may be compromised.

      14. Born in relatively quiet south Minneapolis, Mn my mom raised us street wise. People called me paranoid but I could spot a helpless homeless guy asking for a cigarette vs a young gangster wanna be, now it’s called situational awareness. Love my mom. I profile all muslams, spot exits everywhere, remember license plate numbers as practice with make model of vehicles. As a girl scout leader, I took the group to the city planetarium, their moms were dumb suburbanite idiots. Freaking out at a homeless guy asking for change, they viewed never to go on a trip to the city again. I said, he was like 75, couldn’t walk straight, he was not a threat…ooooo, those mom’s razzed me, what idiots. I have a high lumens flashlight with Taser in my car, ready just in case….people don’t want to hear the world is really evil and yes, the muslams are out thete tokill you, wake up! Now is the time to be ready and vigilant!

      15. Despite there being no reason to protest (nobody being shot by police), riots have already started in London around BLM. The agitators have also threatened to unleash a repeat of the rioting witnessed in 2011. Vicious blacks trying to chop each other up with machetes right in the heart of tourist London has already happened.

        Apparently the Chinese, the supposed salvation for Europe’s tourism industry, are now scared to visit because of the terror attacks and Muslim/black unrest.

      16. I remember an investment guru talking about making investments in an overheated stock market. His advice was to “go to the party but dance near the door.” That sums up situational awareness pretty well. When I am in a restaurant, movie, or other area with a lot of other people I make sure I know where the exits are. I also to sit or stand close to those exits and I never sit with where I can’t see what is going on.

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