Arriving on Scene
The first Ranger on scene will often be in the best position to start defusing the situation. Usually, the very first thing to do is NOTHING. In Rangering, “doing nothing” is a verb. It is not a passive acceptance of a situation unfolding. Rangers often see a situation and see nine different ways that it might be resolved right off the bat. However, based on the way the situation unfolds, dictated by the participants involved, a tenth resolution can be divined that everyone involved can agree to.
Time is on your side. Observe, listen, and get a feel for what is going on. Assess the situation: is the scene safe? If medical assistance is needed, or if there is a safety issue, notify Khaki. If safety is not at issue, the first step of dealing with a critical situation is cooling things down.
FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY AND THE SAFETY OF OTHER PARTICIPANTS, IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOU ARE ENTERING A POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS SITUATION, OR RESPONDING TO A VIOLENT ACT THAT HAS JUST TAKEN PLACE, YOU MUST REPORT TO KHAKI BEFORE ENTERING THE SITUATION.
“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – Winnie the Pooh.
Bringing things to a lower intensity level, a more casual sort of interaction, sets the stage for resolution. Applying additional pressure rarely facilitates a quick and calm outcome. Protect the involved individuals and the scene from uninvolved participants. If necessary, advise Khaki, and additional Rangers will be sent as available.
Approach those involved in the incident slowly, visibly, and without getting too close. In most situations, one Ranger will stay back and monitor radio traffic, while the other Ranger moves in to take the lead in interacting with the affected participant.
Stand slightly to one side, rather than face-to-face. Introduce yourself (“Hi, I’m Ranger Hubcap”). Not all participants know who Rangers are or what we do, so you may have to explain this. Explain all of your actions before you take them. When entering someone’s camp, ask permission: “Hey, is it okay if I come in?”, “Do you mind if I take a seat?”, “Can I take my pack off and stay awhile?”
Respect the participants’ personal space. Feeling trapped evokes a stress response. Be aware that entering their personal space could cause an uncomfortable or violent response. Be aware of your positioning skills and body language as discussed in the Ranger Training. Speak calmly and casually. Often people resort to agitated or violent behavior when fear leads to feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Slow down the pace: this will help to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. Defusing tense situations is a core Ranger skill. Slowing the situation down is one of the best ways to help overwhelmed participants calm down.
Tips for Being on Scene in a Conflict
If two participants are yelling at each other, consider asking them to separate; you can talk to one, and your partner can talk to the other. Once separated, keep your partner in sight at all times.
Ask the person if they feel okay. If the answer is no, then ask them where they would like to go, or what they would need to feel okay. Try to accommodate them. If necessary, use your radio to clear the location you want to move to. We have a number of resources at our disposal (including Sanctuary) where an individual can go to be alone or talked to, listened to, etc. Remember that in most cases a participant’s own camp and friends may be a better choice.
Allow the person to say “No” to any offer you make, including food or drink. Allow the person to maintain as much control as they can over themselves and the interaction. Generally the more in control a person feels, the better they are at coping with the situation.
One-on-one interaction with the person is important. One Ranger speaking with one participant at a time is less threatening. Introduce new Rangers into the situation carefully and by their Ranger name. Keep bystanders away, especially from behind the participant involved.
One of the worst actions a Ranger can take when entering a situation, whether on first contact or as back up, is to run in and try to take over. Also counterproductive is multiple Rangers arguing about the resolution of the situation or what to do next. While you are arguing, nothing gets done, and no one is really paying attention to the situation, which may be escalating while you bicker.
Defer to a more experienced Ranger, Troubleshooter, or a Shift Command Team member if requested. They are there to help; we are all on the same team with the same goals.
Whenever dealing with a naked participant in a crisis or compromising situation, a Ranger of the same gender as the participant should be present. If you need a Ranger of another gender, ask Khaki to send someone to your scene.
If a participant is making things worse, try to get them off the scene. If they won’t back off, emphasize that you are trying to cool things down. Ask the antagonist questions, such as “Am I making sense?” but don’t get involved in a fight.
IF THE SITUATION ESCALATES, DON’T HESITATE TO CONTACT KHAKI FOR ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT. NEVER FORGET TO MAKE YOUR SAFETY AND YOUR PARTNER’S SAFETY YOUR TOP PRIORITY.
Special Circumstance: Law Enforcement
It is generally better not to approach Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) when they are involved with participants unless LE has invited you into the conversation. Why?
- You don’t want to interfere with them doing their job.
- For your own safety—surprising someone with a sidearm is probably a bad idea.
You can remain in the general area of the scene in order to be available for LE, in case they want assistance, or to wait for a good time to ask for their attention if you believe you have pertinent information.
Stay well back and be visible, so you are not too close, in case they get spooked by anything.
If you have concerns about an interaction between LE and participants, do not approach any officer(s) on scene. Instead, call Khaki and request advice. Depending on the situation, Khaki may call in Troubleshooters, LEAL (Law Enforcement Agency Liaisons) Team members, Shift Leads, OODs (Officers of the Day, who oversee 24 hours of operations), or the Ranger Operations Manager (who oversees all Ranger operations).
IF YOU WITNESS A LEO DRAWING A FIREARM, REPORT IT TO KHAKI IMMEDIATELY AND TAKE NO OTHER ACTION.
Any Ranger who encounters a situation where a law enforcement presence would be helpful or is requested by a participant should call Khaki and request LE at their location.
Intervention and Escalation
We talked about “first do nothing.” But sometimes we need to do something. In general, we start with the least intrusive intervention (unless it’s an emergency) and move to more direct interventions if/when it becomes necessary.
There is a spectrum of intervention techniques, from less intrusive to more intrusive like this:
- Do nothing, say nothing, quietly observe.
- Say hi and/or introduce yourself. (This can be a very subtle intervention; just by calling attention to your presence you can influence things.)
- “Sorry to bother you, are you doing ok? Do you need any help?”
- “Hey, could you do me a favor?” (A very polite request; makes it clear it’s strictly optional for them to comply. It’s a favor, after all.)
- “You should know that if you do this…” (Explain consequences)
- “Please don’t do that.” (Directly request action)
- “I need you to stay back / slow down / not drive here.” (Demand action)
- STOP!” (Urgently demand action in a dangerous situation)
- Physical intervention for safety if necessary and all else fails.
It is imperative that you maintain radio contact with Khaki, as your radio is your link to the rest of the Rangers. Your safety and your partner’s safety are always your top priority. Do not put yourself in harm’s way. In hazardous situations, backup will be sent if requested (including law enforcement personnel if required). Most likely, Khaki will ask you to simply stand at a safe distance and observe/report while Khaki coordinates the response. However, if you become unable to step back from the situation due to sudden changes in circumstances, report that you have become involved and then move in and attempt to address the situation.
Before leaving the scene, make sure that all parties understand the resolution. You might need to keep Rangering in order to arrive at an ending place.
If you have called the incident in, remember to advise Khaki when you are done and what the outcome was: call it in, call it out.