Zorbing For Safety Purposes

Girl, People, Tenderness, WomanGetting to and from work is becoming a challenge on a Saturday. I feel like painting a big sign with a notice to say I am on my way to my work and am part of the NHS – so please let me through – and please stay two metres away from me because I will be dealing with people who are already sick.

It’s awful to see people displaying such appalling behaviour. Here I find myself feeling threatened and afraid of the same people who may have been clapping for the NHS every Thursday for the past couple of months.

Hey peeps – I have been stuck doing overtime for almost six months. I would be glad to be able to get to and from work safely. Violence on the streets of London – like we needed that!

Zorb, Zorbing, Rolling Downhill, SphereI want one of those zorb thingies. Never mind being in a support bubble. I want a big biodegradable plastic bubble that means I am protected from people throwing things in all directions and screaming all sorts of angry chants. I have no idea who is who – just that they are all angry. None of them seem to look as if they have any solutions to offer – just anger and hatred.

Haven’t you read the book? It was all written in advance. While you read it, could you leave a safe route for me to get to work – please. There are some very sick people we are looking after. It would help if I arrived at work in one piece.

 

Protecting 15,000 People In 8 Minutes

I have had lots of thoughts and feelings in reaction to some of the misleading and damaging opinions published online since the world started to realize the enormity of the challenge posed by the …you know. Where to even begin on a subject this big? I can tell already that this is going to have to be a multi-part, multi-post effort.

nusMy priority of late has been keeping healthy so I can be effective at work, and keeping in touch with my loved ones to check they are all alright.

If you know anything about me, I hope you know that I love people, I love the multicultural beautiful human family. I respect that others may have beliefs that are very precious to them, and I would not want to be disrespectful to anyone. So I am going to try to be very careful in what I say.

I am prompted to write this because I have seen some wild assertions recently. They can be very hurtful. There are two aspects to this. One is the political side, the other is the religious side. You may have seen the reports this week that the World Health Organisation have warned against politicising the …you know. It’s not helpful. Regardless of political leanings, we are all in this together.

Concerts, Audience, Spectators, LightsIt does not seem appropriate at this time. I think I have mentioned in the past that I worked as a steward at arenas and stadiums. We had regular training to prepare us for dangerous scenarios that would require us to direct the public in the case of an emergency. What to do in the case of a fire, a bomb-scare, a child abductor, or perpetrators of violent acts was included. In the years I worked as a steward, at least twice I had to help to conduct large scale evacuations due to bomb scares.

At one event, we were able to evacuate an audience of 15,000 safely in eight minutes. Eight minutes! Why? Essentially because we understood the seriousness of the situation, we remained calm, we gave clear instructions, and the public responded to the direction and obeyed. During those eight minutes, it was no time to bicker or squabble.

oiudafAfterwards, there were some issues that had to be addressed. They had to take a serious look at the evacuation procedures and identify what had not worked and potentially could have been dangerous. One big issue was that we received inaccurate information. We were told it was a Code Yellow – which means fire. In response we told people to leave their belongings and exit immediately. That meant we had a huge number of potential “suspicious packages” within the arena. That caused other challenges later.

In addition, other issues came to light. One of which was the traffic lights outside of the arena. In the scenario of an emergency evacuation, the traffic lights were supposed to turn red for traffic and green for pedestrians, in order to allow thousands of people to cross the road and distance themselves from the arena. If people could not continuously cross the road, it could slow down the exit of people from the arena. However, the traffic lights did not do what we had been told at countless training sessions that they would do. We were very fortunate. Our stewards took the initiative and stopped the traffic by standing in the road to allow pedestrians to continue to cross.

shdfaiThere are some really really hard things you have to accept when you train to be a steward. Really hard. One of the hardest to accept is that in the scenario of a large-scale evacuation, you have to let able-bodied people leave first, and those who use wheelchairs are to leave last. When you first hear that at your training it is a shock. It is so hard to swallow. The reason for it is that you have to get as many people out as quickly as possible. But it seems barbaric when you first hear it. Of course the stewards also stay until last of all. So, we would make sure we did everything we could to make sure everyone was evacuated safely. But speed is essential, so things have to happen in an order that allows for a speedy and safe evacuation. You can’t slow down the flow of the departure by blocking corridors and concourses.

It is not easy to be in a role with that much responsibility on your shoulders. We had repeated training sessions to make sure we understood that our actions as stewards could be absolutely pivotal in keeping people safe.

oidsh

Those eight minutes when we had to evacuate 15,000 people were crucial. It was not a time for arguing or complaining. It was not a time to question our training. It was not a time to start cursing the managers or blaming whoever programmed the evacuation procedures. Later all issues were identified and corrected. But when you are in the middle of a crisis, you just get on with keeping people safe in a calm cooperative spirit.

heasWe are currently in the middle of a challenge that poses a serious threat to life. There are people who are anxious and frightened. Now is the time to be calm and obey instructions designed for your safety and the safety of others. The whole plan is to save as many lives as possible.

I have mentioned to several of my colleagues that since this all began, it is my training as a steward that keeps coming back into my mind. Stay calm and cool headed. Communicate instructions clearly without raising panic. The public need to cooperate. They need to cooperate. If someone starts pushing through crowds determined to go and retrieve their child who they allowed to sit with another family, or rushing into the danger zone to find their aunt who is sitting in a section set aside for wheelchairs, it could be disastrous. It’s incredibly hard when you are a steward and a member of the audience starts to yell at you because you won’t allow them to go running into the cordoned off area so that they can find their kid.

oiwdfsdI am looking at those who are in positions of responsibility and authority now. I am politically neutral. I work with international charities that transcend borders. Most of them are not stupid. (You can think whatever you like, but as I am not going to get involved in petty human politics I am not going to shame and blame any imperfect rulers.) Most of they are not unfeeling. They are in an extremely demanding and difficult role. They have to issue directions in order to protect as many people as possible. They have to accept the responsibility that their decisions are having on people’s livelihoods, their mental and emotional wellbeing, and many other factors.

You can think what you like about them in your head. But now…now is the time to be promoting cooperation and respect for the direction we have received. Now is the time to prioritise on saving lives and bolstering the health service rather than undermining their voice. Why? To help our families and communities endure what is clearly a long term challenge. I am sure there will be endless criticism and analysis later on. But now we need do what we have been asked and help those around us to stay calm, not panic, and ensure they are safe.

cools.pngIn this international challenge, we want to protect our human family. I honestly believe that like a member of the 15,000 audience that we evacuated in eight minutes (that included over 300 members of the audience who were using wheelchairs), it is time to stay calm, obey instructions and trust that those making decisions designed to protect people. They are not idiots. They are imperfect. They are in a very challenging role. We are in a crucial stage when we just need to follow instructions designed to save lives.

Then…if you really want to…you can get back on your political high horse.

But can we save lives first please?

NOW THIS WAS PART ONE…IN PART TWO I AM GOING TO TAKE US ALL THE WAY BACK TO A CRISIS THAT OCCURED IN ANCIENT EGYPT.

 

 

Those Who Hide What They Are

DISGUISES. I was thinking about this theme for a post and I was not sure exactly which direction to go in. So, I thought I would think a little bit about internet security.

When I checked the definition of disguise – it was along the following lines:

“to alter one’s appearance or conceal one’s identity”

incognitoI was thinking about how important anonymity has been to me while I have been blogging on WordPress. I have written about lots of people and events in my personal life. But I do all sorts to maintain my privacy. I change names. I am very obscure about locations. There are all sorts of things I would never share on my blog for security reasons.

In addition, I only feel comfortable talking about my personal life, within the privacy that being incognito brings. That is important to me, and I also seek to protect Jack’s identity.

In a way, I conceal my identity with a disguise. I do so with a clean conscience. I am very security conscious. I have absolutely no intention to mislead of deceive others for sinister reasons.

But that made me think of everything I have read about internet security. There are people who disguise who they are for malicious, sinister reasons. I think that most bloggers are sensible and have that sense of caution with regards to personal information. But I am very conscious that there are some very young bloggers and others who perhaps are a little too trusting.

incognitoI don’t to be gloomy here, or frighten anyone, but I would appeal to anyone blogging and sharing information from their personal life to be careful! Be cautious! There are people, perhaps bloggers, who are disguising themselves, not for security reasons, but for sinister reasons.

It is so easy to find yourself drawn to bloggers who are friendly. Most of that interaction is fine. But please please be careful. The internet can be like a big city. There are lots of people, most of them just enjoying themselves. But others with ill intent. And those who do have sinister motives are usually very very clever at disguising themselves. They might be men pretending to be teenage girls. Or people pretending to be all sorts of things they are not, in order to get your attention and try to win your trust.

caution.pngSomeone might have a sad story and be asking you for money to help them with their problems. They might ask you for personal photographs, or lots of personal questions. They might say they are lonely and that they feel especially drawn to you, that you seem very special.

In fact…maybe I am a tad suspicious, but any stranger who starts telling me I am “special” or giving me an unreasonable amount of flattery – my alarm sensors immediately trigger.

careful3.jpgDisguises are not always bad in themselves. People wear disguises for fun like at fancy dress parties. They wear disguises to remain incognito to protect their privacy. They may seek to maintain their anonymity because they are security conscious. Here on WordPress there are many bloggers who prefer to remain anonymous for all sorts of reasons. They may want to express their creativity or their feelings without others from their “real life” identifying them.

But the worst disguises are those worn by those who pretend to be something they are not in order to deceive, degrade and damage. Some disguises are worn by those with very harmful sinister motives. Some cleverly hide what they are, presenting themselves as something entirely innocent, when the reality is, they are seeking an opportunity to take advantage of someone trusting and vulnerable.

There are some lovely bloggers out there. They are usually very sensible and cautious themselves and are unlikely to ever compromise your security. But please remember that there are some internet users who are basically predators.

Enjoy blogging – but be cautious. Be safe! Remember there are some out there who are very clever at disguising their true motives.

____________________

 

This post was my response to the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore

Writing Prompt #42

Making Me Nervous

One day last week, I had to go to a part of London that I don’t often pass through. It is south of the river and between London Vauxhall and London Bridge, but quite a way back from the river. I was around Lambeth, Kennington and Elephant and Castle. I used to go down to Elephant and Castle quite a bit because I had a lot of Spanish speaking friends who lived there. But it has been a long time since I was there, and as I was walking, I found I started to become a bit nervous.

kennington

I was not nervous until a young man did something that I thought was a bit strange. I saw him in the distance walking, and I noticed that when he saw me, he turned around and started walking away quickly. As I was approaching the corner of the pavement and needed to cross the road, I realized he was behind me. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. So I swung around and grinned and I said “Hi, how are you?” in a big friendly voice. I think I surprised him, because he gave me one funny look and then walked off in a different direction.

young man.jpgFurther down the road another young man who was riding a bicycle started to circle me. Round and round he went. I was convinced he was going to try to steal my phone or purse. So I pulled out my phone from my pocket. Why did I do that? Because I have a battered up old Nokia phone that does not work properly. I can’t have telephone conversations unless I put the other person on loud speaker and one of the keys on the key-pad does not work. I think producing my phone was a good idea, because not long after, he rode off.

Then another young man standing on the other side of the road, crossed and started walking towards me. Yet again I pulled out my little Nokia. He stopped and turned around and crossed back over the road.

I was trying not to be paranoid, but it was all a bit weird. I was very relieved when I saw several Asian family groups ahead exiting a building and merging onto the pavement I was already on. They all seemed to be carrying Tupperware, and I wondered whether they had been at some kind of social gathering. I was glad to be within the families, and felt safer not that I was not walking along on my own.

IMG_20180722_085452.jpgWhen I am out and about in London I rarely carry anything valuable. I have my keys of course, my battered Nokia phone and my Oyster card so that I can travel on the London transport network. I also carry a one litre water bottle so I don’t have to buy a drink when I am out. If anyone stole any of those things on me, they wouldn’t be profited…but it would be so annoying and would inconvenience me greatly.

Maybe those boys were not up to anything and I was just being overly nervous. But, every time I look at the BBC News website, it makes me feel this world is just descending into a place where it is more likely I am going to be a victim of crime. I have already been the victim of a serious crime, the last thing I want is to be stuck miles away from my little abode without my Oyster card or my bashed up Nokia because of some unconscionable opportunist.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world that feels safe? A world where there is no crime, no violence, no terrorism and no warfare. I don’t want to be nervous walking down the street in the middle of the afternoon. And bless them, people criticise politicians, blaming crime on police funding cuts.

I read something very interesting last week in a little pamphlet I picked up from a display near St Paul’s cathedral. It was all about the changes we need to enjoy real safety and security. It gave the example of a patient in hospital who was in pain. If the doctors just kept on giving the patient pain killers and did not tackle the cause of the pain, the person could deteriorate (or even die). Police have an important role and I am grateful for their hard work. But more police, more security cameras, more prisons, etc is not going to eliminate the reasons why people do wrong things and turn to crime.

Well for now…I am going to be as shrewd as I can and keep my eyes wide open when I am walking in areas I am not very familiar with….and I do think my battered Nokia is an asset!