I loved this next book written by a former Special Forces Operator named Pat McNamara. I share his Basic Dude Stuff videos on Instagram a lot.
Anyone who says “Never miss an opportunity to be Batman” is an instant winner.
The book is Sentinel: Become the Agent in Charge of Your Own Protection Detail.
I’ll never need this, you think.
“I am the agent in charge of my own protective detail. The AIC. I am the protector and the protectee. I have a wife and children. It is my responsibility to protect them. I am not a bodyguard. I am my family’s Batman. I am the shepherd of my flock. I am a Sentinel.” 7%
Watch his videos enough, and you can read it in his voice. I prefer the term “sentinel” to “sheepdog.” It’s practically a synonym but less baggage.
“The AIC has to be an expert in protective security. He or she plans, administers, and supervises the protection detail. This is your job, whether protecting yourself or your family.”
“On your protection detail, you are not only the AIC—responsible for the vehicles and the routes, both primary and secondary, as well as making sure that all weapons are accounted for, loaded, and in the proper carry position—you are also the limo driver. That means it’s your job to ensure that the vehicle is clean inside and out, check the vehicle’s mechanical condition (i.e., oil, fluids, belts, wipers, lights, flashers, and horns); test all doors and locks, and ask for assistance if unfamiliar with an item or its use. You must account for all emergency equipment and verify that it’s functioning. And you must drive to save your life or the life of your principal if necessary.” 9%
It sounds cool and tactical, but preventative maintenance and equipment are essential if you get in a bind.
When he got into driving, I enjoyed it. Pat gets in-depth answering questions I didn’t know to ask.
One pithy quote is important to remember while driving. “Mobility equals survivability.”
“Parking is another risk area, so establish a parking routine. Think about your egress when you park. Backing in not only provides a better exit, but mitigates the possibility of would-be scammers waiting in your blind spot while you back out. “WHAM!” Lawsuit! Before you climb out of your vehicle, take a look around and look in-depth, noting shadows and corners. It only takes a second to scan your primary and secondary sectors.
Your primary is directly outside of your vehicle and your secondary runs two or three cars deep in all directions. Just spend a couple of seconds on this. Make it your new normal. You will be surprised at what you see. If something makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t fit, leave or move so you can live to fight another day. The best way to get out of a sticky situation is by not getting into it in the first place. Once out of the vehicle, plan your walking route to your destination and check to ensure you have your car keys.” 17%
In his videos, he calls it looking 5 and 25 yards out. You’ll be surprised who’s looking back at you, especially when most people walk looking at their phones.
“There are certain things you can do on the fly however. You should have a mental checklist that you can access each time you enter a facility or establishment. We do not plan to fail, we simply fail to plan. If I am out with my family, I am packing a pistol. If we are going to a restaurant, my checklist starts on the outside:
• Find a reference point near where you park to ensure you will remember the location.
• Look for alternative exits out of the parking lot.
• Check the time and ask yourself if it will it be dark when you exit. Once inside,
• Scan for an alternative or emergency exit.
• Then scan each and every table. It’s not about eyeballing everyone. Simply scan. You are looking for assets and liabilities.
• If you sit next to the windows, casually tap the glass. I will be asking myself, Can I throw a table through this window? Is the table bolted down? Or will it suffice for a temporary makeshift barricade or shield?
• Notice the foot traffic coming in and out. I want to know if trouble is coming in, so I ask myself, If I were a sociopath, which direction would I move after entering? Where would I aim my shotgun? What are the natural lines of drift in this establishment? I visualize potential chaos.
Picture complete bedlam with everyone simultaneously running for the exit. This is a necessary component in preparation in the event all hell breaks loose. You must mentally prepare yourself to exit with your principals—if exiting is the best and safest recourse—without hesitation. Even if this means throwing the chair through the window. When pandemonium strikes, there is no time for analysis. Through analysis comes paralysis.” 27%
I saw a meme once that had a pie chart with what guys think about during church service. A small slice said Jesus. The rest was planning what to do if an active shooter came in.
It’s not wrong. My friend Russ and I watch who comes in and if security leaves. I have plans in place for the different spots I sit. Church isn’t boring if you pay attention.
I like the following quote since I have kids now.
“When I am with my family in an open-air event, like the state fair for example, I will conduct a short, clear and concise, briefing with my kiddies. They are young, so I’ve got to keep it simple and it must make sense to them. I will bring them to a large reference feature like a tall sign, or Ferris wheel. “This is where you come if we get separated.” I might say. I will issue them a business card and tell them, “If you cannot find me, give this card to a policeman or to a mom and ask them to call me.” I tell them a “mom,” because kids feel naturally comfortable around mothers. And it seems moms naturally want to help a child in distress.” 28%
Throughout the book, Pat stresses not being where the trouble is, avoiding it, and de-escalating it. Rory Miller’s stuff is good for that. Check out ConCom (Conflict Communications).
“Basically, every step we take toward having complete power over our lives is one step away from being a victim, where we have none.
Nowadays, we are so connected, plugged in, that we are disconnected. Our situational awareness is nearly nonexistent. We are fat, dumb, and happy button-pushers. Comfortable, flaccid, and complacent. But being eternally vigilant can be exhausting. Being prepared to save your life or the life of your principals will require work. Sweat equity.
We expect our kids to look both ways before crossing the street, but we don’t want to look behind us while at an ATM. We often relinquish our intuitive nature and do this at great cost to our own safety. Intuitiveness is a gift and a primal instinct that we cannot afford to relinquish.
Mitigate having to ask “How did I get here?” A little situational awareness goes a long way. Try to see things full spectrum. Perform a focal shift in your everyday life. Look around. Slow down before you park and take a look at the other vehicles in your proximity. It is okay. You were born to do this.
A successful assault happens with surprise, speed, and violence of action. We can mitigate the surprise by being tuned in or situationally aware. If we take the element of surprise away from a predator, he or she will fear reprisal and forgo the attack.” 45%
“When traveling with your family, you should follow some basic rules. Follow your instinct. If a person, situation, or location feels wrong or if it makes you nervous, get away as quickly as possible.” 50%
“The best way to get out of a sticky situation is to never get into it in the first place. One must limit the likelihood of asking, “How did I get here?” Let’s say you got there anyway. What now? Turn and run? What if you are cornered? What if your principal is not capable of running? What if your principal is being harassed? How good do you need to be at fighting? How good do you need to be at self-defense? We can define self-defense as nothing more than recovery from a bad decision or bad luck. You must now be adaptable. I define adaptability as using your existing knowledge to have a positive response to emerging situations. In your protection detail, your objective is to get out of trouble fast. If your plan goes south, you must fail quickly. You must get back into the mix. Do not let the gears stop engaging.” 60%
I’ve skipped over the shooting, training, driving, and fighting parts. But Pat also says, “The Sentinel must be familiar and current with basic lifesaving procedures.”
Learn CPR. I’m one of the first responders at work. He goes into building a First Aid kit and says to have three.
Next, he explains how to prepare your house and what thieves look for. In the home invasion section, he says this for the wannabe Rambos.
“For those who think they are tough-guys, remember that you will have just awakened. Perhaps your eyesight will be blurry, or you cough after standing up. Perhaps you’ll find your arm is totally asleep and as useful as an anchor. Intruders have the advantage in most cases; they’re dressed, pumped on drugs or adrenaline, their eyes are used to the dark, and they may be armed.” 74%
When we moved, we got a security system. Unfortunately, my wife forgot to disarm it before she left for work. She opened the door and the siren sounded.
I jumped out of a dead sleep, bounced off a wall, and tripped over the bed to see what happened.
I was not Batman.
“You do not have to be an expert at CQB, but you do need to follow simple rules: Do not get sucked into the fight. Call the police for help as soon as you can. It is one thing to be able to hit a target on a flat range and a completely different experience to hit a target who has a beating heart, is moving, is in the dark, has evil intent, and is scaring the crap out of you. You must also discern, discriminate, move, and seek cover while your adversary is doing the same.” 75%
Better to fort up in a safe room with everyone. You might have to get someone like a kid. He covers that in the book.
Next, he gets into disasters or emergencies. You may scoff at “Preppers.” But remember, the Covid-19 lockdowns caught a lot of people flat-footed.
Apparently, you can eat toilet paper, or they overeat Taco Bell.
I live in tornado alley. Others get a hurricane at least once a few years. California and Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee are on fault lines.
Stuff can happen.
“When it comes to your protection detail, there are assets and there are liabilities. Your kids do not have to be liabilities. Kids are pretty perceptive and possess keen intellect beyond their experience. You can increase your kids’ skills of perception and observation by playing certain “Look and Report” games.
These games will have a direct impact on their own security but will remain in their minds merely a game. My disaster planning starts in the Walmart parking lot. I say this in jest, but huge parking lots can be precarious. “Heads on a swivel!” I will call out to my kids as we pull into a parking lot. “Parking lots are dangerous,” I will continue, “so keep a lookout!”
Then I might add as we approach a department store, “You lead the way.” Once we exit, we will take turns asking questions: “What color was the car that stopped and let us pass?” “What was the cashier’s name?” 94%
I’m going to train my kids to be Robin and Batgirl.
The book is $2.99 on Kindle and 149 pages long. Get it. It should be required reading.
To quote my brother from another mother: “If you can’t stay safe, stay dangerous.” This book teaches both.