We have always supported the need for a continuum of training, qualification, and evaluation for people who work throughout the security industry. Our type of profession requires operatives who can perform perfectly in any number of situations that may require hard physical activities, training in various disciplines, possession of comprehensive knowledge when it comes to security measures, and, most crucially, a sharp mind and the ability to take actions and react fast in a crisis situation. It is we who are required to act calmly and with steadfast resolve when others (civilians) have lost all sense of control. For example, I would like to bring to your attention an incident that took place in Turkey some years ago involving Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an incident that was riddled with many mistakes, one after another, by his Close Protection Team. It was this particular security failure that was one of the primary reasons that lead to major changes in the security details in Turkey.
According to sources, Mr. Erdogan, a few minutes after leaving the Turkish Parliament and entering his vehicle, started feeling unwell and lost consciousness. His chauffeur and his close protection agent panicked. And from that moment forward, a series of mistakes in a sequence began to unfold.
Neither the chauffeur nor the close protection agent had any background or training in First Aid. When they saw their client in the back of the car, passed out, they immediately drove the car, at reckless speeds, to get to the hospital that was in the other part of the town. In hindsight, they should have driven to the Parliament Health Center which was quite close to them. While speeding enroute to the hospital, they managed to lose the rest of their security convoy and found themselves all alone racing through the streets.
When they finally arrived at the hospital, both driver and close protection agent got out of the vehicle at the same time, and found themselves in yet another embarrassing circumstance, putting their client in a potentially dangerous situation, according to the Hurriyet Press.
‘’ Erdogan’s chauffeur, flung himself in a panic from the Mercedes Tuesday morning in front of Ankara’s Guven Hospital, inadvertently leaving the keys to the car in the ignition, which meant the locks on none of the doors, which had shut automatically, could be opened. It took security detail members 10 minutes to break open the window of the armored Mercedes, valuable time, say, doctors, who note that had Erdogan experienced any health problems more serious than a hypoglycemic faint, he could have died during that period.’’
Although this specific incident might work as a valuable advertisement for Mercedes armored cars, regarding how difficult is to break their windows, it certainly placed Mr. Erdogan in a dangerous situation and his security team in an awkward and quite embarrassing position. As their client was laying unconscious inside the car, his security team struggled for about 10 minutes to break the thick window of the armoured car, aided by workers at a construction site near the hospital who brought a sledgehammer and a chisel.
According to the New York Times, ”the newspaper Hurriyet called it “a security scandal,” while another paper, Sabah, asked, “What if the prime minister was having a heart attack?”
While we all may offer up a number of solutions for this incident, there are a couple of basic truths that, when followed, will alleviate most of these types of issues. Possessing second sets of keys for our client’s sedans is a godsend in a moment like this. As we are all clearly aware, the driver should NEVER leave the vehicle. If this little truth had been adhered to, there would not have been the excruciatingly long moments trying to break into the sedan. And had the driver kept the convoy together as a unit, there is a good chance that several of the mishaps could have been avoided altogether. This is a prime example of the need for SOP’s that would address many of these issues, and with continued training, could eradicate mistakes that have serious consequences.
Following that incident, some of the crucial changes to Erdogan’s security detail were that a doctor will accompany the Prime Minister on both domestic and international trips, an ambulance will also be included as a part of Erdogan’s normal convoy package, and last, but very importantly, all security Ankara officials agreed that chauffeurs, driving the official vehicles used by the Prime Minister, must go through special “crisis situation” training.
A real-life incident such as this combined with circumstances that anyone of us could be called to deal with illustrates the imperative need to make certain you are properly prepared and thoroughly trained to respond in a professional and effective manner to whatever life may throw in your path. It is always wisest to have skills and training and not need it than to need a particular skill(s) or skillset and not have it or be trained properly in it. Your client will, most likely, never suffer an ill moment or awkward circumstance unless you are unprepared for it. It all rests on you.
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