I just finished reading the book Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster strikes – and Why. It is a book every trainer and every traveller should read. There were a number of things in the book that jumped out at me as relevent to law enforcement training. Here are just a few:
- Fewer than half of the World Trade Center survivors from the attacks on September 11, 2001 had ever entered the stairwells prior to the evacuations that day.
- Only 45% of 445 World Trade Center workers interviewed by one research group following the attacks had known the building had three stairwells.
- 94% of fire marshals interviewed after the event had never exited the building as part of a drill and only 50% were knowledgeable enough to evacuate on their own.
- In one incident where 55 people died and another 15 people were injured when a commercial airliner suffered an engine problem and ultimately and engine fire on takeoff one of the complicating factors during the evacuation that likely cost people their lives was a woman seated beside an over wing exit. The woman was unfamiliar with how to open the hatch and was unable to do so. “She spent precious seconds pulling on what turned out to be her armrest.” Another passenger had to pull the release handle.When the hatch opened it fell into the woman’s lap trapping her and passengers had to get the door off her and out of the way before people could exit the plane.
- Resilience comes from having confidence. Confidence comes from realistic rehearsal.
Have your officers been to stairwells and down the stairs in training?
Have your officers practiced opening the emergency exit hatch in training?
Is your training, realistic, relevant and conducted in context? Do your officers practice fighting in confined spaces, in low light or no light, against multiple assailants, on the ground, from the ground, all while wearing their duty belts and body armor?
At the range are they training to shoot while moving, shoot a threat that is moving, shoot a threat from inches away, shoot a threat from inches away who is fighting with their partner, shoot from the ground on their back and sides, and use their firearm as an impact weapon when it no longer is functional as a firearm?
There are still law enforcement training programs that are the equivalent of the boring and impractical safety lectures in office spaces and on airplanes. That is not acceptable. We will never know how many people died in disasters because of poor preparation and we will never know how many officers have died as a result of poor training.
Make sure your officers have trained not to survive a disaster, but to win it.
Brian Willis – A Man With Many Questions
At Winning Mind Training we are driven by our dedication to inspiring the pursuit of personal excellence and our belief that every law enforcement officer deserves to experience awesome training.
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