Think on Your Feet, Act Smart

In October 2017, Mathias Wangler set off on a three-year overseas assignment in Turkmenistan. To prepare for this, he took part in a security training course organised by AIZ. This not only sharpened his awareness of risk, it also gave him mental strength. Mathias Wangler talks about the training course that in many ways gave him greater security.

The security training course taught me a great deal about evaluating potential and actual risk and about how to act correctly – and incorrectly – in specific risk situations. It was particularly interesting and useful to be made aware of preventive measures that we can take to prevent hazardous situations arising.

I learned, for example, that by adapting my outward appearance, acting appropriately, and reviewing my habits and modifying them where necessary, I can attract as little attention as possible and move around more safely. I also found insights into the psychology of assailants and offenders very valuable. I discovered the levels of stress they put themselves under and how vital it is as a victim to adopt the correct behaviour in order to deescalate dangerous situations. For me personally it was particularly useful to discover how I act instinctively in unexpected dangerous situations. This, together with my first experience of simulated real-life incidents such as an attack or abduction, triggered in me a different understanding of security, from which I have now developed a certain inner strength.

Crucially, I was only able to gain this valuable experience and learn so much because the two trainers in the field of security and risk avoidance were highly experienced and therefore absolutely credible and authentic in their presentations. The methodology used on the course ensured the learning experience was successful and involved a good mix of theory, sharing experience and plenty of practical exercises.

The course changed a lot of things for me. I now feel well equipped to handle potential dangers in future. Of course, situations like this generally arise when you least expect them. So it is very reassuring to know how to act more appropriately in case of emergency. ‘Think on your feet and act smart,’ was one of the course maxims. More importantly, however, the course made us even more aware of the need for prevention and risk avoidance. I also realised that in everyday life we learn and practise many things, but that we do not attach enough importance to our personal safety – although it could be a matter of life or death.

I would thoroughly recommend the security training course to others and would say this to my circle of colleagues: ‘For me this security training was not only indispensable as preparation for my overseas assignment, it was a crucial addition to my skillset for everyday life. I would recommend anyone to take an interest in these issues, both to prevent potential danger from arising and to be better equipped to face actual danger. Ultimately it is all about developing knowledge and experience and building self-confidence.’