In a survival situation you need to know where you are and how to communicate your position to potential rescuers.

Get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment.

Get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment.

A survivor is defined as “a person who copes well with difficulties in their life”. You can get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment. Anyone reading this article can relate to that definition even if the types of difficulties we have personally faced are not the same as each other’s.

Alison Clarke:

Stepped outside of a Cape Town night club to get some fresh air before going back inside. A man approached her and suddenly started touching her inappropriately. She could have panicked, frozen in place, and become a victim but instead, remembering her training, she did what is known as the “Trident” – and it saved her life. The best part of the Trident is that it is a simple self-defence technique anyone can master.

Scott O’Grady:

Was flying a peacekeeping mission over Bosnia in June 1995. His F16 jet was hit by a missile and he ejected. On landing, he grabbed his bail-out bag and survived for a week behind enemy lines. The contents of that bail-out bag saved him until he was rescued by US Marines.

The two examples above are from different scenarios but both reflect difficulties handled well under pressure.

Every employer has a Duty of Care (DoC) responsibility to its staff and contractors working on the company premises. However, this responsibility extends beyond the physical workplace when staff travel abroad on company business. Then, your staff represent the ethos and business practices of your company. If their travel experience could expose them to the risk of loss of life, liberty, or limb, then their employer must ensure that the corporate traveller has the necessary skillset to avoid preventable death, detention or bodily damage.

Such a skillset is taught during hostile environment awareness training (H.E.A.T.) courses, which are available in South Africa, equip employees with the ability to operate effectively when seemingly benign situations turn hostile.

The benefits of a two-day H.E.A.T. course:

  • It will provide details of their company’s corporate travel security policy and procedures. (If your company doesn’t have a policy, one needs to be developed before the pandemic ends and travel resumes).
  • It will showcase the pre-planning that needs to be carried out before leaving staff leave their home country: key areas include destination intelligence about the foreign country; meet and greet protocols at airports; routes to hotels; local resources for emergency medical situations; and evacuation process along corridors of safety and emergency communications.
  • It will introduce the concept of “Everyday Carry (EDC)” – by knowing what kit to carry and how to use it, staff will be more self-reliant and capable of operating with confidence in a hostile environment, which will in turn provide the company with sufficient time to arrange for a controlled and safe evacuation.
  • It will allow staff to make informed decisions about where to spend their leisure time without exposing themselves or the company to physical, financial, or reputational risk.
  • It will show management how to prepare a debriefing on their return.
  • The nature of this debriefing is to provide management with lessons learned; marketing intelligence about the competition; and identified risks to other employees travelling on business.

 

By Benedict Weaver / Zero Foundation Africa

Get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment. Sign up for a H.E.A.T course today .

Find out more about how Zero Foundation Africa can help you.

travel risk assessment

Never travel without this risk assessment

You should never travel without this risk assessment. The security professional is responsible for protecting these 4 key assets of an organisation: Property, People, Information and Reputation.

Yet, each industry has its own focus on risk whether it be financial, operational or digital. However, only one risk has the potential to create a perfect storm and adversely affect all those 4 key assets contemporaneously: Travel. Read more

6 Everyday radio calls in Morse

The SOS distress signal does not stand for anything. The … _ _ _ … was easy to transmit in Morse code.

Before the standardisation of an international distress signal in July 1908, other countries had their own signals. Germany used SOE, Italy SSSDDD and Britain transmitted CQD.

At the Berlin conference, it was recognised that in Morse code the letter E was represented by one dot (.) and could be mistyped.

The E was replaced with a S as three dots  (…) was more clear. Although the SOS signal was officially adopted in 1908 and used successfully in July 1909 when a shipwrecked occurred in Portugal, it was not used in April  1912.

 That fateful night, the Titanic radio operator first  transmitted the old CQD distress signal. Only afterwards did he try the new signal, commenting that he might never get the chance to try it again.

Although Morse equipment has been replaced at sea by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, it is still useful to know some emergency Morse signals.

6 Everyday radio calls in Morse

  1. Starting:  _ . _ . _ .
  2. Over:  _ . _
  3. Wait:  . _ . . . 
  4. Roger: . . . _
  5. End: . . . _ . _
  6. Error: . . . . . . . . 

Learn this skill and other means of signalling for help on one of our courses.

Design your ultimate survival kit

A survival kits come in many shapes and sizes, but their importance lies in the ability of the user as well as the environment in which the user finds themselves.

A survival kit is the mark of an individual who has a preparedness attitude and recognizes that everyday events can be turned upside down by factors beyond your control. In January 2010, a filmmaker walked into his hotel reception lobby after a day’s work only to be engulfed in darkness and falling debris. Within a couple of seconds, the journalist was buried under rubble, but was saved from being crushed to death by a concrete lintel that jammed between him, a wall and the collapsed roof of the lobby. Although he did not have an earthquake survival kit with him, the filmmaker did have an iPhone and used the torch application to wiggle his way into the lift shaft and a more safe location. Whilst in the lift shaft, he accessed a Bear Grylls survival application and was able to read about surviving by drinking his urine and other Bear Grylls suggestions.

You might not think that you will ever be exposed to needing a survival kit for the Apocalypse or a hurricane or any other disaster, but then you might also think that it is the government’s responsibility to save you in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Yet, the need for designing your own survival kit, whether an urban survival kit or a mini survival kit, is critical to your success whenever you find yourself in a dangerous or hostile environment.

In fact, life itself is survival and, as the victims of violence in Syria will confirm, all the changes is the conditions under which you live.
 
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The H.E.A.T mini survival kit is contained in a waterproof capsule and holds the following survival items:

  • Waterproof paper and pencil to help you write notes, to use as tinder, to indicate your travelling direction or to stave off boredom.
  • A small compass to provide you with the cardinal directions of north, east, west and south. By knowing these cardinal points, you can orientate yourself to the direction you want to travel, even if you cannot see the sun or the stars. During our H.E.A.T. course, we teach you how to use the compass, as well as bare hand navigation.
  • A whistle as the noise is better than having to shout or scream. The international distress signal is 6 blasts every minute and the response is 3 blasts in a row. Similarly, you can communicate in MORSE code using a whistle and the noise travels far at night.
  • A ferrochromium flint and steel provides you with the ability to light many fires, irrespective of the conditions. Whilst sparks generated by the ferrochromium rod will ignite many forms of natural tinder (dry leaves, belly button fluff and wood shavings, our mini survival kit also includes two tinder blocks to help you start a fire in wet or windy conditions.

The above four items enable you to light a fire for moral or heating purposes; to determine direction for travel or rescue purposes; a means of writing messages or writing a trail; and a method of alerting rescuers.

Whilst all these items can be carried in a small waterproof container, sometimes you might need a slightly larger survival kit for everyday use or travel.

Anyone venturing into a potentially hostile environment or crossing wilderness terrain in an aircraft or by vehicle should always be well prepared for any emergency situation. The next post will show you how to build a more comprehensive survival kit and demonstrate the usefulness-for-weight value for each item.

Top 6 Emergency Preparedness Myths

The biggest obstacles regarding comprehensive Emergency Operations strategies are the misconceptions and misinformation surrounding the true nature of emergency preparedness.

  1. “If something happens all I have to do is call 911.”: Help can only go so far, or be there so quickly. Your safety rests solely on your shoulders. You have to realise that, at some point, you might be on your own for a while, especially if the situation is extremely hostile. Learn to be self-reliant.
  2. “The insurance will cover everything.”: Realistically, insurance agents aren’t going to instantly rebuild and replace your losses. Also, your insurance plan might not cover some rather common terrorism or disaster related incidents.
  3. “Good preparedness is too expensive and too complicated.”: Knowing how to prepare is a life-saving skill. There are literally thousands of subtle, simple, and economical things you can do to drastically improve your emergency preparedness plan. The notion that preparedness is expensive or complicated comes from aggressively marketed, high-priced and likely unnecessary gear.
  4. “I can get free emergency preparedness information on the Internet.”: Many free sources contain really good information. However, many of them are nothing more than a rehash of “72-hour kit” ideas, and contain nothing new or comprehensive. Also, it takes time and experience to filter the mass of information. Some of these free sites have dangerous misinformation.
  5. “Nothing like that could ever happen here.”: Staying out of trouble in Africa is all about staying focused, staying alert and staying aware of the dangers that can and sometimes do become reality. The single worst thing you can do is to allow the all the good things you will encounter in Africa to lull you into a false sense of security.
  6. “In a real disaster, we’re all dead anyway.”: You can be assured of being rescued if you develop a psychology of survival based on the following three attributes:
  • Tell yourself that your home comforts are not essential to survival.
  • Tell yourself that your present discomfort will be nothing as compared to the extreme discomfort you will experience if you do nothing.
  • Remember that rather than doing nothing and dying, you can take control of the situation and live.

The H.E.A.T manual covers several topics related to survival in difficult, remote and extreme environments. Reading these chapters you will acquire survival tactics and practical knowledge that will help you to cope with unfamiliar circumstances after a natural or man-made disaster and build an emergency preparedness plan.

The manual covers a range of necessary topics and gives you the knowledge to help you return home.

Top 5 tips to survive a grenade attack

The traumatic attack on the West Gate Mall; situated in Nairobi, Kenya; ‎has the characteristics of many Al-Qaeda linked operations. Whilst responsibility for the terrorist attack has been claimed by Al-Shabaab the modus operandi fits the 3 objectives outlined by Ayman Al-Zawahiri. In a message Al-Zawahiri stated that a terrorist attack needs to be against a western target where hostages are taken and Muslim casualties are reduced to a minimum.

In the attack and subsequent hostage taking several Al-Shabaab terrorists not only killed westerners Read more

6 Ways of Knowing If You are a Target of Technical Surveillance

Often, when operating in a hostile environment the threats you might face are not simply of a physical nature sometimes, the threat of technical surveillance might be a challenge as attempts are made to monitor your activities and communications in a covert ways therefore, it is important to be able to establish if you are under surveillance and what counter measures you can adopt.

Here are six indications that you might be the target of technical surveillance Read more

Riot in Kenya

An African Emergency Response Plan

Medical epidemics, riots and escape and evasion are just a few of the topics a good Emergency Response Plan should cover, particularly when it comes to individuals travelling or staying in Africa.

Riots are unpredictable and chaotic, often occurring suddenly and without warning.

On December 2007  riots erupted all over Kenya, after Mwai Kibaki narrowly defeated his rival Raili Odinga, in one of the most fiercely fought elections in Kenyan history.

Conflict has existed between the two majority Kenyan ethnic groups inhabiting the region, namely the Luo and the Kikuyu.   Mwai Kibaki is Kikuyu and Raili Odinga a Luo, meaning the election took on a tribal dimension. Read more

The Importance of Duty of Care

Although the phrase “Duty of Care” is understood by many in the corporate world, it is a phrase that lacks an explicit definition.

The duty of care responsibility held by companies is meant to provide protection for the company as well as its employees.  In this way, a relationship exists between the claimant in a matter and the defendant.

For a duty of care responsibility to be determined, it needs to pass a three part test: Read more

Adrift in the sea

Surviving in Rough Seas

When the dive master of African Dive Adventures was swept offshore into the Atlantic Ocean off Shelly beach, Jean-Pierre Els first thought of God. After drifting over 30kms from where he originally went missing, it is clear the Els decided to take his own survival more personally and use the techniques that we teach during our H.E.A.T courses.

Over the past few months several instances of divers going missing have occurred in South Africa. Whether the cause is rough seas, high swells or powerful winds the net result is that divers drift for many kilometers.

What do you do if you find yourself in the water without a boat or a raft? Read more