Back to Basics with Jeff Gonzales Episode 2: Situational Awareness
VIDEO – Back to Basics with Jeff Gonzales Episode 2: Situational Awareness
CCW Safe is proud to present a new video series with Jeff Gonzales of Trident Concepts. The Back to Basics series is a ten part video series covering the basics of concealed carry covering gear, mindset, avoidance, de-escalation and much more.
In Episode 2 Jeff talks about the importance of maintaining situational awareness in your daily life.
Jeff Gonzales: Hi, I’m Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts. I’m here for back-to-basics with CCWC. Today we’re going to talk about practicing situational awareness.
Situational awareness is the act of staying aware of your surroundings. The very first thing that we need to do is to stay alert to our surroundings. That’s a lot easier said than done, so what are some of the things that you can do to try to stay alert?
The first thing is avoid distractions. If I can tell you what not to do, then what you’re going to be left with is more than likely going to be paying attention, staying focused on what’s happening, so what are some distractions? Probably the most common one and one that we really have a hard time dealing with, our phones. It is difficult to unplug from the phone.
What I tell people is make sure that when you’re going to check your phone, that it is safe to do so. If you’re out in public, where are you? If you’re on a city street, can you move to a place that’s going to be a little bit safer for yourself? Number one, we don’t want to walk into oncoming traffic, which has happened. Number two, we want to make sure that we put ourselves in a position that is tactically sound. I don’t mean to take my eyes off of what’s happening around me and focus right here something close right inside my hands.
Once we can avoid distractions such as our phones or potentially other distractions that could cause me to look one way where I should be focused in another way, so once we get past the distractions, the next thing that we want to talk about is what am I really looking for? That’s the question I get asked all the time, what should I be paying attention to? That’s a harder question to answer. One of the other things that I will suggest is you’re looking for what doesn’t belong. What doesn’t belong? That can sometimes take a little bit more effort to try to process, like, where am I again? Am I in an environment where cold-weather gear is the norm because it’s cold outside? Great, but what if I run into somebody who is not wearing cold-weather gear? What if they’re out and it’s cold and they don’t have a jacket on? Is that something that I need to pay attention to?
Should I be wondering why is that person not wearing a jacket? I can conversely flip that. What if I’m in a hot environment and it is hot and then there’s this one individual that’s wearing something that is probably not appropriate for those types of conditions. Does that mean that I need to be paying attention to that person? It means that you probably want to stop and go, “Why are they wearing that jacket?” Maybe they are coming out of some event that caused them to dress up for, I don’t know, could be. The thing that I’m trying to get across to you is that you need to think why doesn’t that person belong? That person stuck out in a crowd, why do they stick out in the crowd?
The next thing is who’s paying attention to you? If you’re paying attention and you’re out there and you’re looking around, you’re monitoring what’s happening and all of a sudden you pick up on somebody that’s actually paying attention to you. Why? Are you about ready to walk out into the middle of oncoming traffic? Maybe they’re like, “Oh gosh, is that person even paying attention?” Maybe that’s the case or maybe they’re watching you because there are some ulterior motives as to why they’re watching you. That brings us down to know yourself. Know where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are. Know that it is really hard for you to not check your cell phone while you’re out in public.
Then what are you going to do? You got to put yourself in a tactically sound position. Maybe I’ll stop walking, put my back up against the wall somewhere and go ahead and take care of whatever I need to take care of because what I’ve done there is number one, I’m being courteous to everybody around me. I’m not bumping into people and not walking into things. I’m stepping out of the flow of traffic. I’m putting my back up against the wall because that means that any threat is going to have to be approaching me from my front versus the blindside behind me. Those are the little things that we talk about knowing yourself. We know that you really can’t stop checking your cell phone, then at least do it in a way that is tactically sound.
That brings us up to having a plan. Have a plan. What’s my plan going to be? Let’s talk about what should I do in the case of this. This is– I don’t want to call it a game- but this is a strategy for helping develop an awareness of what to really look for. If I think to myself, All right, I’m out in the street, I’m walking and I’m going to be approached by a panhandler who’s going to ask me for money. What’s my plan for how to deal with this? Do I have loose change on myself to even deal with that in which case it’s probably be an easy answer? Do I want to engage with this person? Do I want to go ahead and cut ties and move along? What’s going to be my plan for how I negotiate those types of situations?”
If you can come up with a plan, one of the things that I tell people is a plan is better than no plan. Even if it’s a bad plan, a bad plan is still probably better than having no plan whatsoever. Keep in mind that it’s important that we do something there. If you think about it early on, that’s going to benefit you so that you’re not having to think about “What am I going to do?” at that moment.
The last thing we talk is what we’re doing is we’re trying to create a process here. Awareness is the first thing that we’re thinking about. Then through being aware of what’s happening around me. I’m staying alert. I’m avoiding distractions. I’m looking for what doesn’t belong. Who’s paying attention to me? I potentially can pick up on something. That allows me to apply some avoidance tactics. If I see something and I want to try to avoid it, I can do something. Maybe I move to the other side of the street. Maybe I turn into a building. Maybe I do something that’s different from what I was doing. That allows me to avoid.
I then may have to do the next step, which is to adapt. I may need to adapt to that situation. Let’s just say I got caught off guard. I wasn’t paying attention or maybe I was paying attention over here and I should have been paying attention over there and now, I need to adapt to that situation. I need to quickly think on my feet and try to do something that allows me to disengage or to just at least deescalate that situation. The worst-case scenario is that I need to focus on some counterattack.
If everything that I’ve done did not prevent a violent criminal attack, I need to think about how I’m going to counter-attack. Counterattack is one of these things that I tell people it’s like, it’s not like you’re actually going to draw your firearm and engage with deadly force. A counter-attack could be something as simple as turning your feet 90 degrees and running. It’s not all ways a firearm solution. This is part of the reason why having a plan is so important.
I’d love to hear your questions or comments. Please feel free to post them down below. Until then I’m Jeff Gonzales. Take care, stay safe.