Archive for September, 2012

Family and Executive Protection vs. Yellow Jackets

September 18th, 2012 Comments off

Yes, you’ve read that title correctly.  Sitting on the steps of our home on a sunny Sunday afternoon while our daughters played on the front yard and rode their scooters and bicycles around, my wife and I had no idea that we were about to engage a threat.

Seemingly bored with racing up and down the sidewalk, the girls decided that they would put their climbing skills to the test and began scaling the sides of our steps along the railings, over the planter boxes and around the sides of the porch.  I wasn’t worried about them as much as I felt the plants were threatened to be squished by misplaced feet.

My four year old had made it around to the corner of the porch, holding on to the railings on either side of the corner pillar that goes up to the overhang.  She had one foot perched on a decorative rock, and the other on the edge of the wooden planter.  She was about 1 foot off the ground when she started to scream.

I looked and saw about nine to ten yellow jackets (wasps) either on or flying around her face.  To her, 1 foot must have felt like 10 feet because she was frozen with fear and didn’t let go to remove herself from the swarm.  I jumped to spring over the stair railing which would have been a straight line to her, but my youngest was in the way scaling the sides of the steps.  To avoid catching her with my feet as I cleared the railing, I jumped down the steps to the ground, then over to the corner of the porch.  In this time, my wife had also dashed to her – we reached at the same time.  I grabbed her under the arms, pulled her backwards releasing her grip on the railing, swung her around to put myself between her and the wasps (much like an executive protection agent should do to act as a buffer between a threat and a client), then stepped about another seven feet or so, which put us about 10 feet from the spot of the incident.  I brushed and swatted the remaining wasps from her.  My wife was at her side again now as well.  Once I realized that there were no other wasps on her and my wife was now aiding her, I jumped over to my other two daughters and removed them from the danger area.

Over the years I’ve received various training including each of Rob Shuster’s executive protection training courses. I’ve worked in the field for various protection details and been privy to many ‘out of class’ tips and best practices.  I credit all of this to my quick thinking and reaction.  Our daughters were our subjects to protect and my wife and I worked well as a team to bring them to safety.  In Shuster’s courses, he often discusses how you have to stay alert at all times when on an executive protection detail because routine can dull your senses.  A threat can happen when you least expect it.  How even at a subject’s home, office or any other location that is very familiar can be an area for a threat.  How true.

The threat in this case was a hive of wasps that had found a small space between the pillar and porch.  The pillar is hollow, so they were nesting there.  We never knew there was a hive there because it was to the side of our house, it was only a few days old, and the flight path (which I observed for a while after the incident) took the wasps away from our line of sight.

HR and security managers could use this story as an analogy for the daily routines of their teams.  For yourself and your executive team that are typically local or traveling within North America, I’d suggest self-applied protective training; either having someone with you or knowing what to do yourself can greatly reduce the risks.  If you have executives travelling to areas with a track record of kidnaps and crime like Latin America, I’d strongly suggest executive protection and/or security drivers are arranged for them.

As well, ensuring that you select a company that is experienced and well trained to protect your staff is crucial.  When an agent is deployed to protect an executive, they should always ensure the subject is the first priority – like a father allergic to wasp stings protecting a child.

My daughter escaped with two stings (one on her nose and one above her eye) which we of course treated immediately – and luckily she was not allergic as I am.  After treating the stings and giving some TLC, my wife and I applied some distraction techniques and she was fine (e.g. announcing we would all go for an after dinner ice cream treat because she was so brave).  After I watched the hive for a while to see how I had not noticed it previously, I destroyed it.  Our daughter was of course in shock and petrified when it happened, but the next day she came with us to look at the aftermath and climbed back up on the rock that she was originally stranded on to peer right into the space where the hive used to be – brave little girl.  Hopefully that helped lessen the odds of her having a lifetime phobia of yellow jackets.


September 7th, 2012 Comments off

Well, if anyone casually asks me at ASIS 2012 if anything is new since last year I hope they have an hour or so because I’ll have a lot to tell them!  AFI and IMAC merged and are now AFIMAC, AFIMAC acquired Brazil based MENA International, we have a new video Q & A system called Insights Under Two,  our expert team has been blogging, we made major enhancements to our incident tracking software called VERITAS, our on-line training courses have increased to include several excellent topics, and the company has grown tremendously over the last year and refocused its core service offerings.

It’s going to be a great show and year to follow!

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