Looking closely at these events helps us recognize what we can learn, and how we can apply these lessons moving forward to reduce the likelihood that another town must face this type of unimaginable loss.
On May 24, 2022, the town of Uvalde, Texas, suffered a major tragedy in the form of a mass shooting that took the life of 19 Robb Elementary students and two teachers. Yet, this loss has been felt worldwide as many people wonder how these incidents continue to happen.
Looking closely at these events helps us recognize what we can learn, and how we can apply these lessons moving forward to reduce the likelihood that another town must face this type of unimaginable loss. Secondarily, it allows us to find a way to give our kids the ability to go to school without worrying that they may face violence that prevents them from returning home safely to their parents. So, what have we learned?
As a former Emergency Medical Technician and Rescue Diver, I have seen first aid and trauma kits of varying sizes, shapes and colors that included enough equipment to operate a MASH unit at the site of a catastrophe for a month. On the other hand, the most experienced flight nurse/combat medic I’ve ever known once said that if he had a 2X2 bandage and a pair of rubber gloves, he was “good to go” for almost any occasion. This illustrates that it is the carpenter and not the tools that usually gets the job done, and thus it is clear that competent, recurrent training becomes an essential component in the protection specialist’s toolbox.
Many years ago (ok, it was back in 1996) when I attended the Executive Protection Institute’s Providing Executive Protection Program (7 days, 100+ hours of training). I went into the program somewhat full of myself (ok, a lot full of myself) and I went into the program thinking I knew EVERYTHING about executive protection as I had been doing it for a few years and had attended some prior training (hell, I even had the T-shirts too). I was in for an awakening.
During the first few days, on every break, I was pretty quick to tell everyone around me how smart I was and that I pretty much knew everything they were teaching. And then we went out on a practical exercise and the instructor could see that I was a bit cocky (ok, he probably saw that I was a lot cocky), and right out of the gate, he threw a few wrenches into the mix, and within about 10 minutes, I was stumbling so bad he had to stop the exercise and ask me what the hell I was doing! It was at that moment I realized a couple important things. Number one, if you think you know everything, you can’t learn anything! So, I determined at that moment that I would always be a student of my profession and would always continue to learn.
The second lesson was that I had paid a lot of money to attend the course, so I should get my money’s worth, and learn something, instead of telling myself how much I already knew (ok, I’m a cheap bastard). I came to realize that we “don’t know, what we don’t know”. And the only way to learn what we don’t know is to continually be learning. Overtime, I also realized that one of the best ways to learn, is to teach. I often say to students in front of me in a class is that I am not there to teach, but to learn. As an educator and as an Adult Learning Facilitator, we often say that you teach dogs and kids, but you don’t teach adults; you provide facilitation for them to learn.
Now that I own and operate the Executive Protection Institute, I’m fortunate that I am able to facilitate the learning of subjects that I am quite passionate about: Executive Protection, Protection Driving, Firearms, and numerous other related security topics. I hope that all professionals continue to learn, attend training programs, seminars, and conferences, and to keep learning. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I have recently met a few professionals who told me they do not need to train, because they have already been trained. Hopefully, these folks are in the minority, but I do know that most professionals are quite busy, and time is precious. But don’t forget to train and learn, no matter how old you are or how many years you’ve been doing what you do.