Situational Awareness – Even in Your Own Back Yard

On this morning’s local news was a story about a family assaulted in their own back yard.  I found this online report:

Dog Scares Away Attempted Robbers

Two gunmen fired at the dog but didn’t hit it, then fled from robbery attempt at Bradenton home.  A dog helped scare away two gunmen who attempted to rob its owners, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported Thursday….  Read the rest of the news story

Whenever I read or hear these stories (and they are frequent), I think about Situational Awareness (SA).  The “take home” message here is that my SA must always be on…. even in my own back yard.

Of course the news story is very limited in its scope.  But, I wonder at what point the victims noticed the bad guys.  The victims were (according to the TV version of the story – not online yet) a parent playing with his children in the back yard.  The bad guys (BGs) appeared “out of nowhere” with guns demanding money.  The family dog saw it coming and acted, thankfully.  And, it seems the dog scared the BGs away.  What if the victims didn’t have the dog?  What might have happened?

A dog is an excellent sentry and deterrent, no doubt.  If you ask a police officer (who has worked with dogs), he or she will tell you that the BGs are more afraid of the dog than the officer. But, that’s really irrelevant to SA.

My point is that you must always be aware of your surroundings, even when you’re in a “safe environment” like home.  Bad things can happen anywhere.

A couple of years ago, I was in my front yard playing catch with my son.  I live in a semi-rural area.  A pick-up truck came down our dead-end, gravel street and pulled into my driveway.  The driver and his passenger didn’t look like vacuum salesmen nor evangelical missionaries.  But, I saw them coming down the road and kept my eyes glued to them as they pulled into my driveway.  They paused there in my driveway rather than pull back out immediately like when someone made a wrong turn and is turning around.  Instead, they both stared at me.  My gaze was fixed on them, and my posture showed that I was on alert.  Again… lions vs. zebra.  The lions look for the weak or distracted zebra.  This zebra was neither.  And, these lions picked up on that.  After that pregnant pause and stare-down on the driveway, they backed out and drove away.

Was that an innocent situation?  I don’t know for sure, but I doubt it.  They didn’t ask for directions.  They didn’t smile or wave.  They just stared at me.  But, my spidey senses were on alert.  And, I trust my spidey senses.

Had they stayed a moment longer or made any indication they were getting out, I would have sent my son in the house.  I would have also ordered them off my property.  I don’t care what they had to say or ask, and I would not have given them that chance.  Their only choice is to leave.  Thankfully, they left on their own.

My point is that Situational Awareness, alone, can prevent a lot of bad situations.  In the Navy, fighter pilots on the aircraft carrier I served on had a saying:  “Watch your six.” Fighter pilots use a clock face to describe the location of “bogeys” (aka bad guys).  Twelve o’clock is straight in front of you.  Six o’clock is behind you.  Watch your six, Dental Warriors.

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5 Responses to Situational Awareness – Even in Your Own Back Yard

  1. Mark Frias says:

    I once thought about applying for a dental hygienist position in a federal prison…decided not to because it involved moving. In that environment, the need to have situational awareness seems to be obvious, but even in that case, I could see clinicians getting complacent. I think many of us become too complacent in environments we see as “safe”. Of course, we shouldn’t always walk around in high alert status, but I think we should constantly remind ourselves to stay aware on some level.

  2. Dr.Tim Hale says:

    Mike is truly a hero as a vet. We NEED TO PROTECT OURSELVES, STAFF , AND OUR FAMILIES !!!! Thank-you for all your information.

  3. Dawn K, DDS says:

    Three cheers for the family dog!!! While certainly not a reason to get a dog, it is one of the benefits. I remember a story a few years ago where a chihuahua actually saved a family because it alerted them to an intruder. In that case, the intruder did kill the dog, but the family escaped safely and that dog died a hero.

    You and I have discussed this before, that if you have had a little training, you can quickly learn to assume a posture that will identify you to BG’s as a “wolf not a sheep.” Thank you for sharing this story.

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