Boston Marathon Explosions: Staying Vigilant and Prepared - ITS Tactical
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Boston Marathon Explosions: Staying Vigilant and Prepared

By Bryan Black

First off, this isn’t a post about what the cause of the explosions were yesterday that rocked Boston, or a “here’s what should have happened” armchair quarterback analysis. I wasn’t there and neither were the majority of the people that will read this.

What I can say is that if I were running the Boston Marathon, I would not have been prepared, regardless. I’ve run a marathon before and I didn’t carry anything other than some energy gel packets. This is exactly why I personally carry both a Pocket Trauma Kit and a firearm though. It’s not for me, it’s for you.

That’s how I feel about daily carry items. If everyone had this same perspective, of looking out for your fellow Americans and hoping you’ll be there when they need you, the world would be a better place.

Staying Vigilant

This isn’t to say that there aren’t bad people everywhere, capable of nightmare scenarios like what happened yesterday in Boston that left three dead,  176 injured  and 17 in critical condition. Remaining vigilant and being prepared is the most you can do. You can’t go around on high alert all the time. To give you a Cooper Color Code reference, you can’t live your life in the yellow, your body won’t be able to handle it.

Colonel Jeff Cooper was known for advocating a color code to describe a person’s state of mind. Not so much in regards to a level of alertness, but purely the mental state.

The following comes from his book,  Principles of Personal Defense:

  • Condition White  — You are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.
  • Condition Yellow  — You bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.
  • Condition Orange  — You have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.
  • Condition Red  — You are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant.

While the Cooper Color Code is obviously focusing on shooting and in the scenario we’re discussing here, there wasn’t a threat to start shooting at, but it’s applicable here to illustrate levels of mental alertness and situational awareness.

Something that Jeff Gonzales talked about in the mindset lecture portion of his pistol course I recently took, is shock threshold. Shock threshold is the measure of time from the initial shock of an event to the point at which you react. If you don’t apply that aspect into your training, you’ll never know how you’ll react.

Factors that can affect shock threshold are physical fitness, age, experience (more familiar, less shock threshold) and genetics. Remember, strong people are harder to kill.

How is shock threshold applicable to what happened in Boston? I only mention it to point out that you need to be ready to respond. The less time it takes you to respond from the initial “shock” of an incident and getting your ass in gear to respond, the better off you and those around you will be.

Medical Kits and a Plan

I’m not going to turn this into some sales pitch for the Medical Kits we sell at ITS, this is about having something and being trained to use it. I don’t care if it’s knowing how to use a bandanna and direct pressure to stop bleeding, or having a hemostatic agent like Combat Gauze and a tourniquet.

Get a kit, get trained and have it on you. Plain and simple. If you’re not comfortable carrying it, then you’re going to leave it at home when you’ll need it the most. Comfort doesn’t just apply to it being in your pocket, but also speaks to your level of training. If you’re not prepared to fully use it, then you’ll hesitate.

Whatever you feel that you can carry comfortably on your body is what you should focus on. Those chosen supplies should give you, at the very least, a way to stop bleeding. Extremity hemorrhage is the leading cause of preventable death right now with our troops overseas and after looking at the devastation in Boston, that scenario is much like the IEDs that our soldiers are facing.

I’m going to try my best to not to get on my soapbox about the fact that most primary first responders are Law Enforcement and they continually have to fight to get the medical supplies they need and often have to purchase these things out of their own pocket.  It’s time for our local governments to wake up and get our officers the proper equipment and training they need to respond.

Having a communications plan in the event that the lines are flooded is extremely important too. Text messages may work, but what’s important here is not what can be used, but what you and your family will use. Have a plan on how your loved ones can get ahold of you so they’ll know where to turn.


I’ve always focused on our motto here at ITS Tactical when it comes to scenarios like what happened in Boston, “Prevail.” That and what lies at the core of what our logo, Website information and the oath I took when enlisting in the Navy states: defense against (imminent) threats, both foreign and domestic.

Staying vigilant, but not hyper vigilant, is the take home. That and using what happened in Boston to ensure you’re prepared to handle anything like this that might happen in the future around you. If you see something out of the ordinary, report it. You’re the eyes on the ground and you can make a difference.

Keep those affected in your thoughts and prayers, but stay strong. The best way to honor their memory is to prepare yourself to be able to help when the next nightmare scenario occurs.

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For resources on connecting with victims and what you can do to help, please refer to our post from yesterday here.

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