Saturday, May 25, 2024

Safety begins with awareness

Retired Air Force Colonel Brian Searcy admits that it can be a bit of a downer when someone like him walks around town reminding everyone that the world is not a safe place. But the reality is that he’s not exaggerating.

Not a day goes by where society isn’t appalled by and intensely grieving another senseless mass shooting at a local church, school, or business. Individuals and families near and far are constantly impacted by threats such as hate crimes, sexual assault, harassment, cyber-attacks, rape, human trafficking, domestic violence, and bullying behavior.

On some days, that’s merely the incidents that tragically happen before breakfast.

The threats we face today are at levels few have ever seen, impacting people regardless of whether they live in the city, a suburb, or a rural area. With seemingly no end in sight, Searcy believes it’s time to stop focusing on the symptom and instead tackle the real problem: the obvious lack of situational awareness in our communities.

“I’ve realized over time from being involved with the active shooter problem, etc., that many of the horrible events we experience could have been prevented if people had situational awareness and knew what to look for,” Searcy said. “It’s a gift that we all have, but most of us have no clue what it is or how to cultivate it. When we get more people to develop that skill, we can start taking responsibility for the safety of our communities.

“The reality is that one in seven people have any kind of situational awareness. We need to get it to six out of seven.”

Searcy, a 12-year Lantana resident who recently moved to Corinth, is doing exactly that through his company, the Paratus Group. Their unique training program bucks the trend of traditional situational awareness courses by redefining how safety is learned. They offer 12-week on-site and e-learning platforms that, in just three or four minutes a day, reinforce the skills people need to respond to threats safely and efficiently and possibly prevent dangerous incidents from happening in the first place.

This is in stark contrast to mandatory training that schools and companies offer once a year. While those yearly courses provide great content, most participants forget what they’ve learned a few days later. The Paratus Group believes true learning comes from developing, practicing, and reinforcing situational awareness a little bit every day.

Searcy’s course checks those boxes by developing 10 critical skills: self-awareness, perceptiveness, perspective, listening, critical thinking, situational agility, decisiveness, communication, empathy, and humility.

Combined, those skills help grown-ups and children alike remove themselves and others from dangerous situations.

“One of the first questions we ask on one of our surveys is if you or a family member has ever been associated with these top six threats: race, harassment, bullying, etc. And 92 percent of respondents have had something happen to them or a family member. That’s the scary part,” Searcy said. “Mandatory training that happens once a year is difficult to learn and carry on. It doesn’t establish habits and behaviors. Ours does — it empowers people. That’s our goal.”

He added, “We use drip content to drive our points home. It may not be until week two or three that we hit that personal thing for them. But when we do, the light goes off, and they understand how this helps them.”

The Paratus Group was a long time coming for Searcy. Following a decorated senior leadership career in the Air Force as both a commander and combat veteran, he transitioned into working in defense contracts in 2010 and realized it wasn’t for him. He craved having a mission, and his wife, Heather, quickly pointed that out to him.

He’s since become an entrepreneur, writer, publisher, and public speaker. He co-founded the Paratus Group in 2019 with the objective of using his decades-tested and proven leadership and training experience to solve the need for relevant principles, training methodologies, and programs to help people learn situational awareness.

“One of the reasons I joined the military was to serve and protect my country,” Searcy said. “My greatest satisfaction now is getting the testimonials that say that our courses saved a life, stopped someone from being afraid, or helped someone share those same skills with their children. That means so much to me, and the more who do it, the more we can change the fact that the world isn’t a safe place right now.”

To learn more about the Paratus Group, visit www.paratus.group. You can also check out Searcy’s new book, “Prepare for the Real World: The World is Not a Safe Place,” at barnesandnoble.com.

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