Back to The Basics

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Back to The Basics

Executive Protection is a physical endeavor, even when nothing eventful occurs.  In my many years, as an EP professional, consultant, and trainer — I have seen several mistakes repeated by good people who simply forgot.

Keep Hydrated. Remember to drink water (not soda or coffee).  This is so simple to do, and yet we often get busy, or pressed for time, and we forget.  The first symptoms of dehydration are dry mouth, followed by weakness and painful muscle cramps.  If you know you are going to have a busy day, preload with water — drink a litre before you even leave your room, and keep extra water around just in case.  We are likely to become dehydrated in desert conditions for two reasons, our sweat evaporates as it leaves our pores, making us unaware that we are perspiring, and we lose even more water just by breathing in the dry air.  I have been in desert conditions where I’ve consumed several gallons of liquid and never had any need to relieve myself.  Preload, keep loading, and keep moving.

Eating Poorly.  Being on the move means limited fare – the offerings are frequently limited to pub grub or fast food.  Realizing you may not be able to find balanced nutrition on the road, stock up on some protein bars and choose salads when you can.  Make sure you have fiber tablets with you, such as oat bran, and stay away from heavy fats and carbs.

Muscle Spasms can be brought on when you are in one position for too long (such as sitting in an airplane, car seat or at your post), by a lack of electrolytes (particularly calcium), and fluid, or when muscles are overexerted in a hot environment.  Diabetes and anemia are aggravating factors.  Inactivity combined with pressure on one point of the body, arm, lower back, or thigh (such as, sitting) can constrict the blood flow and cause a temporary loss of fluid and electrolytes to muscles, triggering a cramp. What’s the secret to avoid spasms?  Being aware of the possibility before you deploy.  If you have had spasms in the past – be aware of what has precipitated those problems and prepare with proper gear or supplements.

I Forgot Something.  This is a common distraction.  It might be dress clothes, cufflinks, the car keys, prescriptions, eyewear, or simply giving the family your itinerary.  I use these examples because I have forgot all of them in the past.  This may sound trivial, but checklists do help.  Items can be updated as needed — but it really helps to have a list.  In time, you can create a universal list that allows you to simply eliminate what you’re not going to need.  This is not that big of an issue when traveling between 1st world locations — but when you’re deployed to a remote or underdeveloped location, any missing item can become unnecessarily troublesome.

Attitude can always become an issue as we tire of bad food, muscle pains, and strange lodgings.  Add to this mix the normal airport charades and the logistics of coordinating multiple security teams — and attitude can become a real issue.  We need to remember that an upset is either an unfulfilled expectation or a thwarted intention.  If we simply align our expectations and communicate our intentions better, we will have fewer upsets. Working with fewer upsets helps us to enjoy what we do a little bit more, and when we enjoy our work, we do it better.

I have seen these five basic elements of readiness cause more problems to EP professionals than any other items I can recall — even more than the externalities our clients have retained us to manage.

File under: Mind the basics and get back to work.

The 6th item…

Please don’t forget what is left behind when you are working.  Your friends and family imagine that you are in the lap of luxury while seeing parts of the word many only dream about.  Communicate home at every opportunity, and remind family and friends why you return — as it’s the best part of the journey.


This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Barron James Shortt, the Executive Director of the IBA.

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