Safety course on situational awareness presented by law enforcement officials

by: JONATHAN BROOK SHIRE/Social Media Coordinator

Anything can happen at any time.

Sergeant Joshua Bartlett, assistant SWAT commander for the Lubbock Police Department and a South Plains College graduate, along with Deputy Greg Treharne, SWAT team leader for the Lubbock Police Department, presented a short course about situational awareness on Feb. 26.

Situational awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend your surroundings, according to Treharne.

Treharne gave the example of Murphey’s Law, stating that anything can happen at any given moment.

“We go through our daily lives bypassing the danger right in front of [us],” Treharne told the audience in the Sundown Room in the Student Center on the Levelland campus.

There are many situations and examples that he gives about being aware of your surroundings. He gives the example of driving into a parking lot at Wal-Mart.

He describes a normal day of a person in a rush and having to buy groceries. We park the car, run inside, get the items we need, and then run back out, not paying any real attention to who we parked next to and who we passed in and out of the store.

Treharne explained Cooper’s Code, which describes the levels of awareness accompanied with colors.

The color white is unprepared and not ready to take action. Treharne illustrated a person with the color white as somebody sleeping or completely unaware of his or her surroundings.

On the other hand, there is a black level of awareness, when a person is in on such high alert and ill prepared. He or she is in overload, suffering from a breakdown of physical and mental performance.

To go along with this illustration, Bartlett shared a video of a man in a bar who was on his phone. There are people surrounding him, drinking, mingling, and a bartender behind the counter where the man was sitting. From the bottom of the camera, a man violently moves past the bartender and instructs him to leave. The unknown man pulls out a gun and people start to evacuate. The main character, who is still sitting at the bar on his phone, is oblivious to the robbery.

The man on his phone in the video is described to be on a white level of awareness.

Joshua Barlett presents tup for situational awareness on Feb. 26. MATT MOLINAR/PLAINSMAN PRESS 

Yellow is the color meant to describe a person who is prepared, alert, but also relaxed. Orange describes the person as being on a higher sense of alert to probable danger.

Red is the highest alert stage, as the person is committed to the emergency at hand.

Bartlett also shared a video of a person on red alert. The man was getting out of his car and notices another man walking from the distance. The man circles his car and the other man finally comes into the picture, running toward the owner of the car. The owner then walks back around the car and opens the door.

Bartlett points out that the pursuer is holding something in his hand and ready to attack the owner. However, the owner then pulls out a gun from his side, and the suspect flees.

Bartlett explains that the car owner was situationally aware of his surroundings. He points out that the man scanned his surroundings when he exited the car, prepared for danger, and then created time and distance as he walked back around the car, before taking action.

Treharne then introduced the OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) Loop process. To see the process in action, Treharne threw a pair of keys to Bartlett.

“Bartlett observed the keys coming out of my hand and in mid-air,” said Treharne. “Then he had to orient himself, think ‘I better do something about these keys coming at my face.’ Then he decided, ‘I’m going to do something about these keys about to hit my face.’ Then he acted and put up his hand to catch the keys.”

In accordance with the red level, Treharne adds that fear is natural and a good thing when it comes to situational awareness.

“The gift of fear can warn for a potential attack,” Treharne said. “True fear – not anxiety – is a messenger for intuition and can help identify threats to safety.”

Both Bartlett and Treharne encourage everybody to learn more about situational awareness and self-defense methods.

“Self defense doesn’t always have to be jujitsu and kung fu,” Treharne said.

On the Levelland campus, there is a  shooting range where faculty and anybody the registered age can take concealed handgun license courses.

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