I am so going to end up on some ASIO or MI5 watch list

The past three weeks have been filled with Google searches on terrorism and downloads of the BBC series Spooks.  Don’t worry I am not planning a radical career change, merely doing a university assignment.

It is odd to be sitting in a warm Queenstown pub, drinking local New Zealand apple cider, looking out at the snow-capped Remarkables thinking about terrorism.  I had promised myself eight days of actual holidays.   But my over developed skills of procrastination means I now find myself studying.

I’ve learnt two major things from my readings and of course my studious watching of Spooks: 1) I could never control my facial expressions enough to be a good spy and 2) articles on terrorism should not be read before bedtime.

My assignment focuses on an incident involving an American military officer who opened fire on his fellow officers back in 2009. My task is to determine if he was a terrorist or simply a very troubled individual.  I don’t mean to leave you hanging but my answer isn’t due for another seven days.  Not sure if this is another manifestation of procrastination but this assignment has made me think a lot about what this means as an emergency communicator.

Last semester I researched the increase in attacks targeted at emergency aid workers.  I won’t bog the blog with lots of academic terms, essentially what you need to know is that if you are going to work in emergency response security is something you have to consider and consider seriously.  I loved doing the compulsory personal security training course but that coupled with all of the research I am doing at the moment gives cause for pause.  I’ve had my moments where I have really questioned how much I am willing to personally risk in being an emergency communicator.

At the emergency communications training I attended a couple of months ago a colleague recounted some of his security experiences.  He had that soft-spoken eloquence that immediately silences a room.  He didn’t give copious details.  He didn’t dramatise.  He didn’t joke or laugh it off.  He just spoke in a quiet matter of fact style.  He suddenly made the academic literature I had read and the statistics I had reviewed and questioned seem very distant and the reality of what you can be face with felt real and very personal.

This coming weekend I will be volunteering at the same personal security course I attended last year.  Even though I won’t be the one crawling through the mud I am really looking forward to experiencing this training again with slightly more opened eyes.


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