At it’s most basic level Situational Awareness can be defined as “knowing what is happening around you”. To be useful, though, in a personal safety context Situational Awareness must also involve deriving meaning from what is happening around you. Traditionally it is focused on the environmental factors.
There is a propensity, particularly in the self-defence industry, to instruct people to be hyper-vigilant, to scan. And in “scanning” they are told to seek out the potential threat. This seems to make perfect sense because we all want that crucial early warning before an attack, right? Of course we do! However, what exactly are we teaching them to scan for?
In the military context we can safely list “things” we are looking for (the presence of particular weapons or tactics in the battlespace, signs of movement, sizes of formations, the presence of particular vehicles, etc) and because we generally know our enemy, we generally know his mission and we know our mission. From the “things” we observe we can derive meaning and formulate a plan to respond.
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