Sunday, February 22, 2015

Violence in Public: Are You Prepared?

When I was a young "Joe" learning and perfecting my craft of Close Quarters Combat, I used to do a lot of mental/visual training.  Whenever I would go somewhere new, I would look around and imagine how I would enter and clear.  I still do that today at times, although not quite as much since I'm fairly seasoned at it.  I would look at details such as entryways, high and low threats, dynamic corners, on and on...  Part of this was because I knew the mock-up block "cities" we trained in weren't that realistic, but mainly just to get in some mental reps to help be ready for any situation.  I had the foresight to see that I needed to be ready for whatever.  Once you go through that doorway, you could encounter any number of different sized/shaped rooms and obstacles.

These days, I lean more towards mental reps of how I would react to a threat and secure my family.  My wife knows that when we go somewhere to eat I need to sit facing the main entrance and on the outside if it's a booth.  I prefer a booth due to the extra cover they provide.  Once we sit down I then survey the area and make mental notes of what I would do if the proverbial shit "hits the fan".  My point here is that, anywhere I go I imagine what I would do if something happened.

Am I paranoid and does this consume me?  No.  As an example, we were just at an outlet mall last night.  Since I've done this plenty I typically know how I will handle things in a place just based off past experience.  Do I do this in every store you walk in?  No.  It's just natural for me to know my surroundings at all time, so it's not like it's something that takes a lot of time.  You can't have a plan for every situation that might arise, so you shouldn't burn yourself out thinking.  You don't need to go stand in the center of the store and stand around surveying the place like a weirdo.  Part of this exercise is that your family, mainly your kids don't necessarily need to know you're doing this everywhere.  Some may disagree, but I'm not one for taking away their innocence just yet.  My family knows that I'm well trained for bad situations.  My kids know that I have the means to protect them if need be.

All that said, I could probably do a better job of preparing them to react for certain situations.  For instance, I haven't gone over how we would react if someone started shooting in a mall.  A wide open space that would get really clustered and confusing really quick.  Just this morning on the news there was talk of a terror group linked to Al Qaeda pushing propaganda for their supporters to attack malls.

Are you prepared?  Is your family prepared?  What will you do?  Will you move to the sound of the guns to try and eliminate the threat?  Will you secure your family and stand guard over them until the place is secure?  I can tell you, my first priority is my family.  All this hinges on how close to the threat you are.  There are a plethora of scenarios we could cover here, but I'll save that for training folks in person.  There are also many ways to "skin a cat".  So again, I won't get deep into that here.

The purpose here is to get you to think, be prepared, and get trained.  If through this you realize your preparedness is not where it should be, then that's great awareness.  Now fill the gap and get your mental reps in or get trained with a competent trainer if you need to.

So next time you're in public, do this:  Take a quick look around inconspicuously and think about how you would react if someone came through the door guns blazing.  How would you secure your family?  What location provides the best cover? How would you go about eliminating the threat if need be?  What are you going to do if you're approached by a "nut job" and a gun isn't the answer?  Are you prepared to "talk someone down"?

Call it paranoid if you want, but understand that the threat is real and it's closer than you think.  You don't have to go "full retard" and join a militia or wear your plate carrier in public, you just need a little situational awareness and general preparedness.  If you're interested in training or would like to talk more about the topics in this blog, I'd be more than happy to chat.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CLEER Medical-Mini Blowout Kit (MBOK)

It always baffles me when people have negative comments on a product and make comparisons ........that aren't really comparisons.  Enter the Mini Blowout Kit (MBOK) by CLEER Medical.  This is a purpose built medical kit.  The Facebook posts I've seen about this are reminiscent of comments I hear at gun shows when folks compare EoTechs to ACOGs.  What I'm trying to say is that they aren't the same can't compare this kit to many others, because there aren't many on the market like this.  But I digress, now let me tell you about this small wonder.

As I stated above, the MBOK is a purpose built kit.  I first heard about over a year ago and couldn't wait to see it come into production.  For the kind of environment I've worked in and now train people to work in, this thing is great.  Let me start out by telling you what this kit isn't for.  It isn't a "go-bag" kit, it's not designed for overt missions such as a movement to contact or direct action in austere environments/conditions (this kit is good for  direct action and CQB thanks to it's low profile helping it not snag on anything, but I would recommend it only in a situation where you have access to more medical gear within distance.  So when I mentioned not in austere environments, I meant not where you may be stranded with only this kit if things go bad) , etc.  I think you get the point.  I will caveat that statement by saying this kit CAN absolutely be used for any of those things.  That's just not what it's specifically for.  I would say it's not even necessarily what it's for that makes this kit unique and valuable, but who it's for.  This kit is for someone who needs to keep a low profile and not look like they're there for a fight.  If you're running a low-vis mission and/or need to be dressed in formal attire, this kit is for you.  If you're on a personal protection detail and want your primary to have a kit on him, this is a kit that could be easily placed yet still comfortable.  This is also for someone who may need to wear it for comfort, but doesn't necessarily need a full blowout kit.  I could go on here, but again I think you get the point.

MBOK with 30 round Lancer Mag
MBOK with 20 round PMAG

So let's talk about the kit itself.  Take a look the website to see more pictures of the MBOK in size comparisons, but clearly it's a small kit.  It weighs in under 9 ounces (8.2oz fully packed) and measuring 5" x 3.5" x 1.75".  As you'll see on the website, it's just a little thicker than a PMAG.  Easily concealable and easy to wear from the 3 to 9 o'clock positions on your belt and not be uncomfortable.  I've worn one in about the 5 o'clock position on a long car ride without any discomfort at all.  You can carry it vertically or horizontally and it can be deployed by pulling it from either side of the kit using the pull tabs.

Back of MBOK showing Blue Force Gear's
Helium Whisper MOLLE attachment system

End of MBOK with pull tab showing next to Eleven 10 Rigid TQ

The "casing" of the kit is made from nylon with elastic sides that will allow for a snug fit of the inner pouch.  The inner pouch is made of laminated Ultracomp material and the attachment is the BlueForce helium whisper material.  Now if you don't know what those are, in short they're good to go.  The materials are light but tough.
MBOK Deployed

The deployment of the kit is fairly simple.  As with anything you should do some "dry runs" with this kit if you're going to have one and rely on it.  See what position works best for you and how to employ it under stress.  As we know, when the proverbial shit hits the fan things get complicated.  There are no snaps or velcro to deal with on the kit.  I could see this kit being no issue to deploy in a high stress situation.  The other benefit of no velcro and the easy deployment of it is that in a situation where you need to conceal your whereabouts and remain discreet, it's noiseless.  Such features are appreciated by those that would need this kind of med kit the most.

What's in the kit?  Medical stuff of course.  The kit can come two different ways.  As stated on the website, to get the advanced version they require medical device authorization.  I won't get into the contents in detail in this blog or giving you medical advice, but I can tell you they've all been reverse engineered to be as small as possible, but still be effective.  The CLEER team spent quite awhile traveling and talking to find out what the minimum would be needed in the kit, and what the minimum size could be on the components.  To learn more about these components look at the CLEER website or google the individual product names.  

Basic Kit Contents

Here are the components in the basic kit:

CLEER Medical Trauma Bandage (4" x 24" Flat Packed compression dressing)
Celox Rapid (3" x 24" Z-Fold)
FOXSeal Occlusive Dressing (Contains 2 Chest Seals)
North American Rescue Tan Bear Claw Gloves (1 Pair of Large sized gloves)
CLEER Medical Easy Tape (4 - 2" x 12" Strips of 3M Durapore medical tape on easy release backers)

Advanced Kit Contents

The advanced version contains these two extra items:

North American Rescue ARS for Needle Decompression (14 gauge x 3.25")
Rusch Nasopharyngeal Airway (28FR with lubricating jelly)

It doesn't pack all the items of larger kits, but there's a reason for that.  It helps keep it low profile and minimalist.  One thing that kills me with folks today is needing a gadget to do everything.  We've almost lost the art of field-craft.  I could write a whole story on that alone.  Don't forget the items on your person and around you that you can improvise with when more is needed than what this kit has.  That said, pairing this kit with the Eleven 10 Rigid TQ case makes it an even more versatile kit.

MBOK with Eleven 10 Rigid TQ Case

Bottom Line Up Front:  I'm not going to go on and on about this kit.  I've worn it quite a bit and you just don't know it's there most of the time.  It's easily concealed and comfort is not an issue.  If you're someone who needs a kit like this, comfort can be a big this kit will fit the bill.  The price on this kit isn't low, but when you understand what all it took to bring this kit to the market you'll understand the price point.  I highly recommend this kit to anyone, but especially those in a line of work that need a low profile or no profile med kit.