Developing a Combat Mindset: Color Code of Awareness
THERE ARE 740,000 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS TODAY AND 62,000 OF THEM ARE ASSAULTED EACH YEAR. OF THESE INCIDENTS, 21,000 ARE SERIOUS ENOUGH TO REQUIRE A THREE-DAY HOSPITAL STAY. EVERY 2.5 DAYS ONE IS KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY. 228 OFFICERS WERE KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY IN 2001. 68 WERE SHOT TO DEATH.
Prepare yourself to WIN when you can, not when you have to.
Color Codes of Awareness
WHITE – Totally unaware of any threats around you and tactically oblivious to the surroundings.
YELLOW – Aware of the surroundings but not focused on anything in particular. Not expecting any problems or threats.
ORANGE – Aware of a possible threat and focused on a specific area. Potential for threat is increased. Begin planning a course of action if threat presents itself.
RED – Situation is life threatening and you are focused on a specific threat or threats. Make instinctive decisions based on training.
Important Tactical Realities
If you're in law enforcement, it will happen to you! You will encounter a threat sometime during the execution of your duties. You are a trained tactical team member in an unstable society. Violence is a bi-product of what you do. If you hope or expect nothing to happen, you will be caught flat footed and unprepared. You will have to overcome the shock of reality, recognize the danger and make a conscious decision to resolve the situation in a very short time. Mental acceptance of the possibility and preprogramming yourselves for danger will greatly reduce the reaction time and shock when the inevitable occurs. Prepare yourself to WIN when you can, not when you have to.
Preparing for Chaos
- Are you qualified with your agency's course of fire?
- Are they clean, or resemble boat anchors?
- Can you run and retain it on your person?
- Over 20% of all officers killed each year are killed with their own weapons.
- Wear it, keep it clean, and take care of it like your life depends on it.
- Level III A body armor will stop all handgun rounds and some rifle rounds.
- It greatly increases your chances for survivability.
- Are they clean / serviceable?
- Where are they situated on your gun belt?
- Never compromise comfort for accessibility.
- Magazines should be located as close to your non-firing hand as possible to minimize “out of action” time during speed or admin reloading.
- Reload when you can, not when you have to!
- Is it charged?
- Is it part of your gear or stuck in your pocket?
- Train with and without high-speed gadgets.
- If it is man made, it is subject to malfunction.
- Have a back up plan for everything.
- Is it charged?
- Is it attached to your body?
- Can you shoot, move and communicate?
First aid – self-aid, buddy aid and higher medical attention
- WIN THE FIGHT!
- THE BEST MEDICINE IS COMBAT SUPERIORITY!
- STOP MASSIVE BLEEDING
- RESTORE BREATHING
- TREAT THE WOUND
- TREAT FOR SHOCK
Just because you’ve been wounded doesn’t mean you are out of the fight. The person in the best position to administer first aid to your wound is YOU. Your commitment to WIN and your mental attitude can motivate you to find cover, plug the hole and get you home to your loved ones. NEVER GIVE UP!
Why Should You Prepare?
Basic bodily functions change. The average resting heart rate is approximately 80 BPM. During heightened levels of stress such as experienced during combat or other dangerous encounters, BPM can almost double. Fine motor skills begin to deteriorate.
- Increase in adrenaline flow
- Increase in respiration
- Vasoconstriction of extremities (blood goes to major muscle groups)
Motor Skills Performance Change:
Loss of fine motor skills at heart rate of 115 BPM. Includes hand/eye coordination, finite accuracy, and fingertip control.
Loss of complex motor skills at 145 BPM. Includes general accuracy, tracking and high security holster draws.
Gross motor skills work best at 150 BPM and up. In a shock response, blood flows away from dexterities and to the major muscle groups causing you to have an increase in “strength,” your ability to punch, kick, and run. Pushing and pulling motions work better and you need a simple holster and a simple gun.
Cognitive performance changes:
Reaction time increases by 400%
Decision-making ability is greatly reduced
You experience over alertness — fight, flight, submit, fixation and feedback loop
Other Preparation Methods
A rigorous physical fitness program, mental preparations and at least six hours of sleep per day will not keep these physiological effects from occurring, but recognizing these symptoms will minimize the shock of experiencing this for the very first time. The ability to control breathing can be a key factor.
Military special operations forces including U.S. Navy SEAL Teams have used the Box Breathing drill for over twenty years, and recently some law enforcement units have been introduced to it. During these stressful encounters this drill can lower the heart rate substantially, thus eliminating many of the above effects. And all you need to remember is the number 4:
- Do this...4 times!
Using and repeating this method will reduce your BPM significantly and increase your chances for surviving a dangerous encounter. Staying healthy, motivated, dedicated and committed to your training are some of the ingredients that can make you an outstanding operator. They may even keep you alive.