Airport Safety Tips For The Summer Travel Season

As summer gets into full-swing, more and more people will begin traveling for their yearly summer vacations, crowding airports and highways on their way to enjoy some fun in the sun. Unfortunately, this also means that criminal activity at airports will be on the rise as well. Airports are what we would call a “target rich environment” for criminals – every person traveling in an airport has the potential to become a victim. Travelers are often tired, wary, or distracted, making them the perfect victims. For these reasons, O’Gara Training and Services has compiled a comprehensive list of Airport Safety Trips that you should certainly keep in mind the next time you find yourself flying the not-so-friendly skies.

Before you head to the airport:

  • Backup important files and records to a separate hard-drive, or the cloud, or both before you leave for the airport. If your laptop ends up being lost, stolen, or you end up needing to leave it behind, all of your important files will be safe and lessen the impact of losing your laptop.
  • Be sure to leave an itinerary of your trip with someone at home. This way, someone back home will have an idea of where you are supposed to be, at which time, on the off chance something goes wrong.
  • Make sure to put luggage tags on all of your luggage but be sure to avoid putting your home address on there! Only put down enough information for someone to contact you in the event that your luggage is lost or stolen – such as an email or a phone number.
  • Make a list of those objects that you have packed in your checked luggage – that way you can know if anything is lost or stolen in transit.
  • Protect yourself and your valuables by placing your medicines and expensive items in your carry-on. Also be sure to safely store important documents, such as your tickets, passports, or travel insurance docs.

Getting to and Leaving the Airport:

  • Do not leave your GPS visible in your car, if leaving your car in a long-stay parking lot. Criminals will break in and use them to find your home address and then rob your home while you are away.
  • Do not use unofficial taxis. Once in the cab, sit behind the driver so that you can see them, but they cannot see you. Pay while you arrive at your destination and are still sitting in the vehicle.
  • Never share a taxi with someone when leaving the airport. Criminals and human traffickers can use this to identify your location and could come back later to rob or kidnap you.
  • If you are picking up someone from the airport, try not to sit in the pick-up areas for too long. This can make you a target as well.

At the Airport:

  • Dress sensibly. For women, this means avoid wearing skirts, stockings, heels, flip-flops, or shorts. All of these clothing items could interfere or impede movement if you find yourself needing to run in the event of an emergency or needing to use the emergency slide in-flight. You should also avoid wearing any clothing that would cause you to stick out from the crowd – it makes it easier for you to be targeted and followed by criminals.
  • Keep your personal belongings with you at all times, never leave your luggage unattended.
  • Do not use the bathroom when it is empty – criminals could be waiting outside to follow you in, corner you, and proceed to rob or attack you. If you notice the bathroom is empty, turn around and leave and wait outside until someone else goes inside.
  • Take phone calls in private. You never know when someone could be trying to listen in on your conversation to pick up valuable information that they can use to follow you, or to find out your home address.
  • If you feel unsafe, always remember that you can ask for an escort.

In-Flight Safety

  • You should keep the following items on you at all times: wallet, passport, cash, credit cards, medication, printed list of emergency contact numbers, and a cell phone. These items should be kept in a travel wallet, small cross-body bag/wallet, or fanny pack. Do not remove this item, even during the flight. This way, in the event of an in-flight emergency, you will not lose precious time trying to locate your personal belongings – your travel wallet or cross-body will have everything you absolutely need.
  • Pay attention to the safety demonstrations. They may seem tedious and boring, but they provide crucial information for your survival in the event of an in-flight emergency.
  • If you are using your own devices for in-flight entertainment, be sure to pause your device whenever the crew is speaking – you might miss out on important information if you ignore it.
  • Avoid drinking too much when flying. It is important that you maintain your situational awareness while traveling, and drinking will impair your judgement and senses.
  • Do not overshare information with the person next to you on the plane. While it is perfectly fine to enjoy a conversation with your seat-buddy, make sure to avoid giving too much information about your destination, or your travel plans.

O’Gara is dedicated to spreading our mission of Safety, Security and Survivability to all. If you wish to learn more about how to keep yourself safe while traveling, please do not hesitate to contact us!

You can find more information about our Travel Safety and Awareness Training, you can visit our website or email us at sales@ogaragroup.com

Do Aid Workers Need Safety Training?

The idea that groups of individuals who have dedicated themselves to helping those in dire need of humanitarian assistance could become the target of violence is hard to fathom, and yet, it is a harsh reality that we must all face. In 2016, there were 158 major attacks on aid operations, with 101 workers being killed, 98 wounded, and 89 kidnapped (Aid Worker Security Report, 2017).

Recent trends show violence against aid workers is a major safety concern.

While exposure to some violence in areas requiring humanitarian assistance to be expected, it does not explain why aid workers are sometimes the actual targets of these attacks. After all, they’re only there to help innocent civilians – they haven’t taken up arms, so why would they be targeted?

Due to the nature of aid work, these individuals are thrust into austere environments, and because of the rules of engagement, are armed only with good faith and intent as aid workers for protection. Sometimes, aid workers are in the field because they possess certain knowledge or subject matter expertise, such as doctors or medical workers. Other times, they are responsible for delivering critical care, medicine and much needed supplies to the local population, such as vaccines, water, or food. It is in these situations that their aid organization t-shirts and flags can sometimes become targets, rather than forms of protection.

According to the Aid Worker Security Report for 2017, published by Humanitarian Outcomes, most attacks on aid workers come from national-level NSAGs, or Non-State Armed Groups who seek to take control of a territory/state.  Targeting aid groups serves the NSAGs two-fold: for one, it helps them to dominate the populations and territories the seek to control, and secondly, it helps them to delegitimize the government in power. Global-level NSAGs, such as ISIS, Abu Sayyaf, al Shabaab and other terrorist organizations, launch more lethal attacks on a smaller scale, meaning that they are more specifically targeting aid workers. The unfortunate truth is, aid organizations are seen as a possible threat to the authority of every NSAG group – no matter what level. That, combined with the fact that most humanitarian organizations have ties to Western Civilization, makes them prime targets for violence from these groups. In addition, due to global aid organization mandates, requirements and international law their personnel do not take up arms and are known to be soft targets for violent extremism.

It is for these reasons that NGO’s need to invest in the duty of care and the personal safety and security of their workers. While hiring armed protection and building high walls and enacting other physical security measures might seem like a short-term solution – it often has the opposite intended effect. It often sends the wrong message and creates an environment of mistrust and demonstrates to the local population that they are not trusted. However, by having each individual employed at your NGO attend a training course such as HEAT or FACT, you are helping to ensure their personal safety, security and survivability in a way that does not send messages of mistrust.

Each individual who works for an NGO should be trained in subjects to include; situational awareness, cultural sensitivity, transnational terrorism, hostage survival and surveillance detection and includes instruction on how to utilize critical government resources.

The O’Gara HEAT and FACT course training offerings provides participants working abroad in hostile and high-risk environments with the knowledge, skills and confidence to effectively identify, avoid and mitigate risk and deal with the most common threats. Our purpose-designed training has been developed to support personnel and organizations such as government and program supporting civilian employees, academic representatives, students studying abroad, executives, those in the entertainment industry, project managers, journalists, NGO’s and humanitarian organizations. The methodologies, techniques and procedures taught by our subject matter experts have been operationally employed and proven.

At O’Gara our focus isn’t just to educate and empower those we train to mitigate risk, but to focus on the philosophy, planning, techniques and strategy of not placing yourself in a crisis situation to begin with!

Please visit www.ogaratraining.com for more information or email us at trng-rqst@ogaragroup.com.

Preventing, Preparing, Planning for an Active Shooter Situation

While most of us assume that we’ll never be faced with an active shooter situation, as countless recent national tragedies and news reports remind us, the risk is very real.

Whatever part of the country or industry you work in, it’s important to remember that active shooter incidents can occur anytime, anywhere. It’s vital that you adopt a proactive attitude when it comes to preparing for the possibility of facing an active shooter event.

Preparing for a worst-case scenario now could save countless lives later. Are you being proactive enough in the planning, preparation and prevention of a possible active shooter event? Here are some guidelines to get you started…

Planning: Create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

Ensure readiness for yourself and your teammates for any foreseen emergency events and especially an active shooter situation by creating an emergency action plan (EAP).

Drawing up and documenting an EAP is a vital step to getting all your employees and departments ready for an emergency. As such, many different teams and departments will need to come together and provide input on your EAP.

Ultimately, an effective EAP will include:

    • A method for quickly reporting emergency situations to all staff
    • Evacuation policies and procedures
    • Clearly documented emergency escape procedures and routes
    • A directory of contact information for all relevant parties within the organization
    • An emergency notification system to alert local hospitals and law enforcement

Many stakeholders should be involved in developing an emergency action plan and the execution of your EAP. For instance, Human Resources (HR) departments may help educate all staff members about the EAP, ensuring your EAP has provisions and considerations of employees with special needs. Facility managers and administrators may need to institute access controls, distribute critical items such as floor plans and keys, coordinate information among departments, and create crisis kits, including floor plans, first aid kits, and flashlights. Finally, managers and team leaders will need to be familiar with the EAP, know how to evacuate staff and visitors, and be prepared to lock and barricade doors in the event of a lockdown.

Preparation: Educate Your Team

Conducting training exercises/drills is one of the most important things you can do to help prepare your staff to respond effectively to an emergency to minimize potential of injury or loss of life.

Going through classroom training and hosting mock violent behavior/active shooter exercises can help train your staff about how to react to a workplace violence or active shooter event. Broadly speaking, these exercises can help prepare all your team members to:

  • Recognize the sound of gunshots
  • Adopt a survival mindset in a crisis
  • React quickly to evacuate, hide out, or act against the shooter as a last resort
  • Help any visitors and guests to safety
  • Call 911 and be prepared to help authorities when they arrive

In addition, holding training exercises can help enable all individuals in your workplace on how to best take care of themselves in an emergency, including knowing when and how to:

  • Run
    It’s vital that all employees understand how best to evacuate in the event of an active shooter, following a prepared escape route or path and being prepared to abandon their belongings and contact 911 when they’re safe
  • Hide
    If evacuation is impossible, it’s vital that you know how to shelter in place, which may include finding a spot outside of the shooter’s view, locking or blockading entrances, and remaining quiet
  • Fight – as a last resort
    It’s important that all individuals understand that they should only fight if their lives are in imminent danger, and grasp the best strategies for disrupting or incapacitating an intruder if the need arises.
  • Respond when law enforcement arrives
    When authorities arrive, employees need to know to remain calm, keep their hands empty and visible and follow all instructions when given.  

Prevention: Recognize the Potential for Violence

While it may never be possible to fully predict, or prevent when an active shooter incident may occur, there are steps that your organization can take to stay on top of worrisome signs and curtail them before they can escalate.

As a rule, it can help to train all employees, HR officials, and managers to be aware of indications of workplace violence and know how to take remedial steps. Other preventative measures for the workplace may include:

  • Creating a system for reporting potentially violent behavior
  • Educating employers on how to screen new hires and perform background checks
  • Making counseling services available on-site
  • Knowing the indicators of potential violence, which may include: depression/withdrawal, increased use of alcohol or drugs, paranoid behavior, unstable or overly emotional outbursts, and more.

Want to get proactive when it comes to ensuring the safety and security of your workplace? O’Gara Training and Services can help. We offer very progressive and informative Workplace Violence / Active Shooter and Response Training (ASRT) courses nationally. We train organizations, institutions, governments, agencies and individuals on situational awareness, individual actions, executive, management, staff and individual readiness, law enforcement response, recovery plans and more.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to see what our team can do for yours.

NEWS FLASH | FL Gov. Rick Scott calls for Active Shooter Response Training in all Florida Schools

NEWS FLASH

(Feb 23, 2018) The Associated Press reported today that Florida Governor Rick Scott, as part of his proposal addressing the February 14 shooting which killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, has called for Active Shooter Training in all Florida schools!!

O’Gara Training and Services is a worldwide leader in the safety, security and survivability training business and provides Active Shooter Response Training (ASRT) tailored for most needs.  Have your family, organization or agency be prepared with the best Active Shooter Response Training (ASRT) training program offered in the nation. ASRT is taught in five comprehensive and specialized modules including scenario-based exercises. Depending on the client’s wishes we can train at our facility or provide mobile training teams to your locations.

If you are a school board, college or university looking for immediate information on Active Shooter Response Training or other consulting on increasing the safety and survivability for your teachers and students, contact us for an immediate response at pr_inquiry@ogaragroup.com

Active Shooter Response Training at Ogara Training

O’Gara Wins U.S. Army Individual Terrorism Awareness Course (INTAC) Contract

CHANTILLY, Va. – O’Gara Training and Services, LLC (O’Gara) announced it was awarded a contract with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to provide a broad range of training services and expertise. The Individual Terrorism Awareness Course procurement, also known as INTAC, is a single-award contract with a period of performance of one base year and two one-year options with an additional 6-month optional period. 

INTAC supports Safety, Security and Survivability for Military Officers and Federal Agents that deploy overseas. O’Gara will provide expert training in situational awareness, defensive/evasive driving, surveillance detection and firearms skills. The company will also provide tactical combat casualty care training conducted by O’Gara’s experienced paramedics and former Special Forces medics at O’Gara’s Advanced Life Support-certified training facility located in Montross, Virginia.

“We are honored to provide training that helps keep personnel safe as they go about their important mission,” stated Ted Wright, Chief Executive Officer of The O’Gara Group. “As the sole training provider on this contract, we are leveraging the expertise of our outstanding team that have gained critical insight and experience over the last several years in providing this type of training to individuals and agencies that face challenging missions around the world. We are honored to serve those who serve.”

About O’Gara Training and Services, LLC

O’GARA is a Virginia-based international training company that empowers individuals and organizations to mitigate risk and respond to threats in a complex world by providing innovative safety, security and survivability training.  O’Gara’s state-of-the-art facilities and experienced instructors provide an ideal training environment for corporations, government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) from around the world that rely on O’Gara to meet diverse requirements, ranging from personal safety and leadership to high-performance driving and tactical live-fire.  For more information about O’Gara’s facilities, training or consulting services contact: pr_inquiry@ogaragroup.com.

 

 

 

How to Stay Safe on New Year’s Eve

Every year, more than a million people crowd into New York City to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Countless more people pack concert halls, house parties, and hotel ballrooms around the world, eager to ring in a fresh start surrounded by friends and family.

While New Year’s Eve is a time for fun and celebrations, it’s also a night full of densely packed crowds, freely flowing liquor, and dangerous conditions. It’s important for you and your group to take responsibility and to be ready for whatever urgent situations may come your way.

Here are five ways to empower you to take responsibility for your safety as you ring in the new year

1. Travel In a Group

There is safety in numbers, just look at how gazelles travel in herds in Africa. They have learned they are safer in groups with each protecting each other and even signal when a threat arises. As you make your plans to head out on New Year’s Eve, be sure to leave, arrive, and travel to any events in the company of a group of trusted friends or family members. Avoid leaving anyone behind or isolated with someone you don’t trust or know well as this increases their risk to becoming a victim. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.

Make sure that individuals that you trust are aware of your plans for the night, and be sure to communicate your whereabouts if your itinerary changes at any point.

2. Maintaining Situational Awareness is Critical.

Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Whenever you enter a new building or room, be sure to scope out your emergency exit routes. If anything were to happen, you may only have just a few split-seconds to make your move, so it can’t hurt to prepare ahead of time.

If a room seems unsafe, don’t hesitate to get your group together and leave. As Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, recently told U.S. News & World Report: “Places that are fire traps and fire hazards often look like they are fire traps and fire hazards,” and if your eyes tell you to leave, you should listen.

At the same time, keep an eye on your surroundings, particularly if you’re in a crowd, and remember the old adage – “if you see something, say something.” Practice situational awareness; keep your head up and avoid getting glued to your smartphone, and be on the lookout for anomalies in your environment, such as threatening or abusive behavior on the part of another partygoer. If you’re ever uneasy, don’t hesitate to take care of your own safety and alert someone who would be able to step in, such as the host of the party, a police officer, or the venue’s security or management team.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Drink

As Karen J. Terry, PhD, a criminal justice professor and author, once told Cosmopolitan, “The person at greatest risk to become a victim is someone who is alone late at night and is also under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

According to statistics published by WalletHub, 360 million glasses of champagne or sparkling wine are consumed on New Year’s Eve, and the average blood alcohol content for revelers is somewhere around .09%.

If you’re planning on going out on New Year’s Eve, there’s a high probability that you’re planning to imbibe. It’s important to stay safe while drinking. Remember to keep a close eye on what you’re drinking. Never leave a drink unattended, and don’t accept a drink or other handout from anyone you don’t know. If you have any doubts about your drink or believe it’s been tampered with, stop consuming it and seek help immediately. Trust your instincts and remember that if something seems off, it probably is.

4. Come Prepared

While most people expect their New Year’s night to be fun and carefree, the reality is that it’s impossible to predict what could happen to you over the course of the evening.

Always be prepared to communicate. Ensure you have your phone, it’s charged and you have access to a portable phone charger.  People have been victimized when they leave their friends to retrieve a phone charger from a dark and lonely garage or find themselves in a Convenience Store robbery or mugging.

It might also help to wear sensible, closed-toed shoes, should you need to get away from a dangerous situation. In a worst case scenario, should you need to defend yourself, consider kicking, yelling and screaming for help. According to experts, drawing attention to yourself, especially in a crowd will often deter a would be crime.

5. Think About How You’re Getting Around

New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous nights of the year on the road. According to WalletHub, more than 41,000 people get injured in car crashes over the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with auto accidents peaking during the prime time of 8 pm to 2 am, according to a report from ABC News.

Even individuals who choose to walk aren’t immune from danger; according to the New York Times, New Year’s Day is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians in America.

The bottom line? Always have a plan for how you’re getting from point A to point B on New Year’s. Don’t drink and drive. At the same time, don’t adopt a false sense of security when getting into a taxi or ride sharing vehicle; you’re still getting into a car with a stranger, after all. Stay alert and engaged, and be ready to react if you need to get out of an uncomfortable situation.

The same goes when you’re walking from place to place. Predators tend to look for people who are vulnerable or unaware. Travel in a group whenever possible, and avoid getting distracted by your cell phone or walking with your head down. Instead, stay alert, scan your surroundings, and avoid looking like a soft target.

Remember, the most important thing you can do is to take responsibility for your own safety and security. On behalf of the entire O’Gara Training and Services team, we wish you a happy, safe 2018. If feeling safer and better prepared for emergencies is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!