New Blog Post from On Point Tactical

Required reading for Sayoc Atienza Kali students:

Kevin Reeve posted a new article at On Point Tactical entitled “Are you preparing for MIRACLES or TRAGEDIES?”  Kevin is the founder and lead instructor at onPoint Tactical, a tracking, scout & survival school that runs courses across the country.  I had the privilege of training with Kevin for the first time at Sayoc Kali Sama Sama in 2005, where he taught us about moving in complete darkness and strategies for search and rescue.  I would train with him again in Los Angeles, when Guro Travis Downing hosted him at Integrated Martial Arts for courses in Urban Escape & Evasion, and Street Tradecraft.


Are You Preparing for MIRACLES or TRAGEDIES?
1/6/2012 10:52:34 AM by (KReeve)

Are You Preparing for Miracles or Tragedies?
Motivation, Training, Tools

By Kevin Reeve

Charles Dicken’s, “A Tale of Two Cities” begins:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Two recent stories illustrate the point that the training we acquire and the tools we carry, (EDC – every day carry) are not only essential to our own safety, but that they are key to our responsibility for the safety of others.

In August 2011, a toddler was trapped in a burning car after an accident on an LA freeway. The mother managed to free herself from the burning vehicle and attempted to flag down passer-bys for help. Due to the fire and damage to the vehicle she was unable to open the other doors or windows to rescue her child.

The other accident happen just last week along the Logan River in Utah, where a car skidded off a curve in the road and plunged upside down into the icy river, trapping 3 children in the submerged vehicle. The driver and father of the children was able to free himself, then watched in shock as the vehicle began filling with water.

These are both worst-case scenarios.
Imagine the shock and horror experienced by the victims and witnesses involved.

The insights derived from these two events are not only in what happened to the victims, but most important to this analysis is the preparation and behavior of the on-the-spot responders, and also the bystanders: those who stood by (or drove by) and were either unprepared or unwilling to help.

In Los Angeles, after the car accident,

“According to … witnesses … several nearby motorists and residents attempted to save the child, but were unable to because they lacked the proper tools.”
“There was one guy who was trying to get the door open, but it was basically too late,” said witness Steven Goodrich. “Someone from one of the houses along the freeway got a fire extinguisher, it was too late. He didn’t even know how to use it, though.”

Another person attempting to extract the screaming child was hampered by the seatbelt holding the carseat:

“Martinez broke the window and tried to pull her out, but the seat wouldn’t budge and the fire was searing his arms. He yelled for a knife or scissors, but no one on the scene had anything. By the time someone came back with a knife, it was too late.

“As Blade Magazine pointed out, this is one of the few articles that explicitly implies a knife would have saved the child’s life. It’s interesting to think about the question Ed Fowler asked: “I wonder how many times tragic events like this happen and how often the fact that no knife was present has been omitted in the reporting of the accident?”

In a more extensive interview, Goodrich admits that he was traumatized and he has deep regrets:

“Right now I’ve been doing better. I’ve been talking to a lot of people; family really helped me out. It’s still hard, when I talk about it. Y’know, it’s horrifying, seeing someone die, let alone burning alive. That’s the kind of stuff that will never leave you. People will ask me about it, and I don’t want to talk about it. It’s tough. It’s hard to deal with and it’s hard to think, maybe if I was more prepared, I could have done this, I could have …”

This witness also states that the man from the neighborhood who came running with the fire extinguisher “didn’t even know how to use it. He was reading it, looking at it.”

Goodrich continues:

“And the mom was right there, watching her child die. I just wish people were more prepared. No one had any way to put a fire out, no one had anything to break a window. And, beside me, no one and maybe two or three other people got out of their cars.”

The civilian responders were tragically untrained, lacking in tools or equipment and therefore incapable of acting effectively. In spite of their noble desires, the good intentions to save the life of this toddler were doomed.


Contrast this with the choices made in the second story. Witnesses assessed the situation, decided to act, had the training to act, and the tools to act. They were motivated, trained and equipped.

“Former police officer Chris Willden didn’t hesitate when he realized children were trapped in an upside down car in an icy Utah river. He pulled his handgun, pushed it up against the submerged windows and shot out the glass.”…” Willden, who jumped into the water with his father, said he tried unsuccessfully to open windows and doors. He then used his firearm just as he had done in training for his current job as a bodyguard and Department of Defense contractor.

One of the girls had found an air pocket and was breathing fine but was trapped in her seat belt. Willden cut it with a pocket knife and pulled her from the rear passenger window.”

The other two children were still submerged, and had it not been for additional drivers who chose to stop their cars, and climb down into the icy river, the situation may have ended tragically.

“But [Willden] turned to see up to eight other passersby had scrambled down the embankment to help after coming upon the accident along U.S. 89 in Logan Canyon on Saturday afternoon.

“Highway Patrol Lt. Steve Winward said that after shooting out a window, the rescuer cut a seat belt to free one child. He said the rescuers helped turn the Honda Accord upright in the Logan River.

“They lifted the car enough to free the [two] trapped children.”

At least one of the children, a 4-year-old, wasn’t breathing.

“Buzzy Mullahkel of North Logan told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City that the boy wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse but was revived when another passerby performed CPR.

“Emotions started taking over when he started to breathe. Everybody started to cheer. Lots of tears and clapping,” said Mullahkel, a father of a 4-year-old.”

Unlike the first event, which became progressively more horrifying, the river story gets better and better because Good Samaritans coordinated their training and tools to intervene in powerful and effective ways.

Dr. Robert L Humphrey and Jack Hoban authors of the “The Warrior’s Creed” wrote:

“Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer because I am there. Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend. Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there.”

Can you honestly say that your friends and family feel safer when you are around?

Why would they feel safer if you are not trained to protect them, if you do not have a bias for action, and if you are unequipped?

Given the responses in these two stories, consider the value of having a knife on your person wherever you go; and where applicable, a gun. Consider the impact of the training displayed: CPR training, weapon training, and rescue training.

While it’s comforting to have a romanticized view of how you might perform, in general people don’t rise to the occasion, they revert to the level of their training.

People have told me that if they were faced with a threat to their families, they would be tigers in their defense. I applaud their determination. Motivation is an essential element in reacting responsibly. However, motivation alone is obviously insufficient. It’s training that saves lives. The tools you carry can make a profound difference in the outcome.

“It’s an amazing story, so good,” said [the children’s aunt], Laurel Andersen Gilbert. “We’re so grateful. It was a miracle.”

Read more:



2 thoughts on “New Blog Post from On Point Tactical

  1. Enjoyed the article a lot. Everyone involved in martial arts should understand “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

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