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Public Awareness:

Essential to Public Safety

wooden people figures front of blue background

There is no such thing as an accident, only a failure to recognize the hand of fate” — Napoleon 

The world today has seen many things. It has seen both the beautiful and the ugly, and yet we choose to live every day as if it were a new day, living without restrictions, without care, YOLO (you only live once) as the young ones might say. You see teenagers on the street, people inside bars, cafes open 24/7, and all these other public gatherings that happen every single day.

Most of the time, everything seems normal and safe; we go about our day without feeling anxiety, worry, doubt, or fear. We go with our friends, go on dates, picnics, visit a museum, shop in a mall, and everything is perfect, everything is fine until something does happen. Until suddenly, theres a robbery, a holdup, a kidnapping, and all this awful stuff that can happen even in broad daylight. 

Although living as we do has its perks, it also has its repercussions, safety being one of the most affected.

Today, the most important thing is to assess if we are safe and that we feel safe anywhere and everywhere. Public safety involves protecting the public and making sure that they are guarded against crimes, disasters, and other dangers and threats. 

Safety is something we can never risk. There are people in the government tasked to keep the safety of everyone in public such as, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Computer Security
  • Corrections
  • Customs and Border Protection
  • Cyber Crime Investigation
  • Drug Enforcement Agency
  • Emergency Management
  • Fire Science
  • First Responders
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Law Enforcement
  • Security
  • Transportation Security Administration 

While we are thankful there are people who work to keep us safe, we are, just the same, not completely helpless. 

shoppers walking in mall

We are capable of protecting ourselves to remain safe. Here are some essential steps to maximize staying safe in public spaces.

1. Be aware of everything around you. When you notice that theres something odd going on, dont panic. Go to a place where there are a lot of people. An important reminder is to always stay within reach of other people. Criminals dont like crowded areas as there is a great chance of being identified if not caught. Avoid putting yourself in isolated areas.

2. Trust your gut feeling. That feeling in the pit of your stomach is there for a reason. Pay attention to it. When you feel it acting up, act appropriately.

3. Stay seen. Always stay in well-populated and well-lit areas.

4. Use your intuition. Intuition and attention to detail as your defense rather than fighting could potentially save your life in a dire situation and can help you avoid possible trouble.

5. Look confident. Attackers usually prey on people who look weak and vulnerable. Dont lower your head.

6. If possible, dont walk alone, especially at night. If you really must, make sure that someone knows that youre out and that youre giving them an estimated time of when youll arrive.

7. Make sure all your belongings are safe and secure. Secure your purses or bags against your body, and do not let it dangle. Keep it visible to you at all times. If youre wearing a backpack, consider placing it in front of you rather than behind you when walking through crowded areas to avoid pickpockets, but if ever youre threatened, do not choose your purse over your safety.

8. Zip all zippers, button the buttons, fasten fasteners. If ever you become a victim of a purse snatch, contact the police with the description of the snatcher and the direction they headed.

Dont be afraid to look. Have direct eye contact with people approaching you. This does not have to be prolonged but long enough to send a message that you’re not afraid or timid—in other words “easy prey”. 

9. Avoid walking through crowds that seem rowdy.

10. Beware of scams. There are a lot of motives wherein criminals scam. Be cautious of people who ask for directions, help, or money. They may seem like innocent encounters but never let your guard down. Keep a good distance between them and yourself. Never give out important personal information such as your phone number, address, bank/card details, etc. Answer in brief, straightforward statements to avoid a long conversation. Never allow yourself to be isolated by a stranger.

11. Dont be afraid to attract attention. When in doubt, bring attention to yourself. SCREAM FOR HELP. Dont be embarrassed. This is your life were talking about. Make a choice, embarrassment, or victimization?

If you still fall victim, do not resist. This  can’t be stressed enough. This is a personal choice; however, compliance in this situation would be the better choice.

In a situation where a subject threatens to use or display a firearm, comply. Give up your belongings and go to a safe space at once and call the police.

woman holding keys

12. Have your keys ready. As you approach your vehicle, be sure that you check the back seats and underneath your car. As soon as you get inside, make sure to lock your doors as soon as possible.

13. In case of natural calamities, comply with the safety instruction of the place you are located.

14. Locate emergency exits and listen to authorities in the event of a present threat.

15. Do not put your or anyone elses life in danger. Call the respective authorities.

16. Reassure your family through whatever means necessary.

17. Remove children from the scene of the violence when possible, and comfort them.

18. Get as far away from the premises as you can. If you have an option to run and go somewhere safer, please do so. Dont risk your life by trying to see whats happening. Once the danger is imminent, leave the premises immediately.

In the event where injury has occurred, we have compiled steps on how to administer First Aid to an injured person.

man texting for assistance
  1. Check the scene and the person(s) injured. Gauge an impression on the current situation.
  • Pause to look at the scene and the person before responding. Ask yourself these questions:
      • Is the scene safe to enter?
      • What happened?
      • How many people are involved?
      • What is my initial impression about the nature of the persons illness or injury? Is the person experiencing life-threatening bleeding?
      • Who else can help?
  1. Is the person awake and responsive? Is there severe life-threatening bleeding?
    • Get consent: Tell the person your name, describe your level of training, tell them what you think is wrong, and what you plan to do. Dont forget to ask for permission to administer first aid.
    • Tell someone to get the automated external defibrillator (AED) if theres any, and the first aid kit. Point to the bystander and speak aloud.
    • Use the appropriate protective equipment and gloves, if available.
    • Use simple questions to interview the person.
    • Find out about allergies, medications, medical history, last food/drink/event.
    • Conduct a head-to-toe check. Dont forget to assess the head, neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips, legs, feet, arms, and hands for any sign of injury or trauma.
  1. Is the person unresponsive?
    • Shout their name to get their attention
    • If there is no response, for adults and children, tap on the shoulder and for infants, the bottom of the foot, and shout again.
    • Check for normal breathing
    • Check for Responsiveness and breathing for no more than 5-10 seconds.
  1. Is the person breathing?
  • Call 911/Designated emergency number 
  • Obtain an AED and a first aid kit
  • Conduct a head-to-toe check
  • Roll the person onto his or her side (recovery position) if there are no obvious signs of injury
  1. Is the person NOT breathing?
    • Send someone to call 911 and ask them to obtain an AED and a first aid kit
    • Make sure that the person is face-up on a firm, flat surface
    • If you are trained, begin CPR (starting with compressions) / use an AED if available
    • Continue CPR until the person shows signs of life (breathing, if an AED becomes available, or if when a trained medical responder arrives on the scene)

Note: End CPR if the scene becomes unsafe or you cannot continue due to exhaustion.

There are multiple ways on how to remain safe and secure when a threat occurs, but some of the most important tips to remember are to say calm and become alert and aware of your surroundings. Being observant and paying attention to your environment is a trait that can help not only you but also those around you.

By being aware of your surroundings, youre giving yourself, and everyone else around you leverage once an incident occurs, not that any of us wish for it to happen to anyone.

There are a lot of things that can happen in such a short amount of time and not being able to do something about it, let alone be able to sense it, can be frightening, which is why public awareness is something everyone should apply in their daily lives.

Always remember that you have a sixth sense – it’s called common sense and that is the foundation for proper situational awareness. You’ll thank yourself when the time comes when you actually have to use it. Don’t panic, become aware of your surroundings, and know how to protect yourself and others.

The acknowledgment of a single possibility can change everything.” —Aberjhani