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 MMCC PERSONAL SAFETY DURING INVASIONS

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MMCC PERSONAL SAFETY DURING INVASIONS
« on: Sep 18, 2023, 01:43 PM »
MMCC PERSONAL SAFETY DURING INVASIONS

Written by Havelock
Edited by MMCC Education Team


Oftentimes in social situations, people are not regularly confronted with situations that present risk of safety to themselves or others, so it can be difficult to identify a potential risk situation and knowing how to respond appropriately. We know that being in large social gatherings such as Comicons, in addition to various size public interactions during invasions can increase the odds of experiencing something uncommon such as confrontations.  This is a basic guide to how to quickly assess a situation and determine the appropriate means of response.

Important considerations: When observing people in a social setting and noticing things that appear outside of the norm, there are several things to keep in mind as to the potential causes for the unusual behaviors. As a member of the club and public it is not your responsibility to accurately identify the cause of the behaviors, however it is important for you to think about potential causes in order to best respond to ensure safety for everyone including the individual who may be in crisis. Some people experience Mental Health crises while in public. This can affect their ability to communicate clearly, interact in socially appropriate ways, and perception of their own safety/danger around them. This can also be true for people who are under the influence of illicit substances. If you feel like a person could be in a mental health crisis or under the influence of substances you must communicate this to whomever you contact for assistance. If it is your clan command staff, fellow OMs, or if you feel the need to contact security/police immediately. When security/police is aware of the possibility of mental health crisis or drugs, it drastically improves their ability to respond to the emergency without potentially harming the person who is acting out.



General Personal Safety tips before, during, after Invasions

1. Always be aware of your surroundings. ( Also specifically of the location of exits and restrooms). When walking out of kit, walk with confidence, scan your surroundings and if it is culturally appropriate where you are, make short eye contact with people as they pass you, keeping your head up, not looking at the ground or your phone. This tells people that you know where you are, where you are going, and that you see them. This discourages a lot of people from attempting confrontation or following you. You put yourself at risk when you are distracted with a phone, ďappearĒ lost, or unsure/insecure of yourself. Even if you are lost or unsure looking for something, that is ok, but the important this is to appear secure and confident while you are looking for whatever it is i.e changing area, you car in the parking lot ect.



2. When separating from the group, Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. (Itís preferable if you are in kit to always maintain the buddy system.)



3. Don't go out alone at night, venture into unfamiliar or dark places, take shortcuts, talk to or accept rides with strangers, or hitch rides. Don't walk in or near alleys, on deserted streets, near dark doorways or shrubbery. When leaving an invasion itís a good idea to walk to your vehicle with another member.



4. Don't approach vehicles even if the occupants say they need directions or assistance. When you are with other members, standing at a safe distance and giving verbal assistance would be more appropriate.



5. Avoid verbal confrontations. They may lead to physical altercations.



6. Carry a working cell phone. Otherwise know where phones are located along your route. Having a handler, or a member who is able to store a phone in their kit in the event of an emergency is a good habit. Check in with your group to see who as a phone with them, you can even nominate a person in the group to be the person to call for help in the event of a crisis.



7. If you think someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street. If the person continues to follow you, move quickly toward an open store or restaurant or a lighted house. Donít be afraid to yell for help. One way to avoid this, is to maintain the buddy system with a handler or fellow members.



8. Try to park in well-lighted areas with good visibility and close to walkways, stores, and people.



9. Make sure you have your key out as you approach your door.



10. Always lock your car, even if itís in your own driveway; never leave your motor running.



11. Do everything you can to keep a stranger from getting into your car or to keep a stranger from forcing you into his or her car.



12. If someone tries to rob you, give up your propertyódonít give up your life.



13. If you are robbed or assaulted, report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent someone else from becoming a victim.



14. Listen to your intuition. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't.



15. Watch your surroundings. Leave any places in which you are uncomfortable. Be especially alert for suspicious persons around banks, ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), stores, your home, etc.



16. Be wary of strangers who seem overly friendly, ask a lot of questions, or ask for help. This includes also people who repeatedly enter your personal space or repeated touch/try to touch you during photo ops, booth duty, or even walking through event spaces.



17. Never turn your back to a stranger. This is hard to do, due to the nature of our costumes and what we do, however this is where having handles, other members close by, being mindful of your surroundings and listening to your gut comes into play.



18. Be wary if a vehicle pulls up beside you.



19. Be especially alert when alone in a dark parking lot or structure or any isolated area.



20. Use prearranged signals to indicate that you need help or want to leave. This is especially helpful if you do not have a mic in your bucket or cannot remove your bucket to call out to someone.



21. Avoid people who make you nervous or uncomfortable. If during an invasion, even before or after and your intuition sets off alarm bells let command staff, or another member with you, know what you are feeling, and where that feeling is coming from in regards to people or your environment.




How to respond to perceived or actual risks

1. If you are experiencing distress from a person entering your personal space who is not heeding your verbal commands to Stop, back away, and telling them No, regardless of any excuse they may give for their intrusion, call to or signal Command staff or another member to assist you with verbally instructing the person to stop. If they do not follow commands and appear agitated, contacting security or police may be necessary. Warn them that if they continue in this manner that security/police will be called. As aforementioned if you feel as though the individual may be behaving this way due to mental health or substance abuse influence, relay that information to security/police.



2. If you observe unusual behavior, this is essentially behavior that does not appear normal for the setting, social norms, and population you are around, inform Command staff or another member to be aware. An example would be someone who appears aggressive towards others near them, a person closely following women or children, people having loud disagreements/discussions that could evolve into a physical altercation, unsupervised children, people who appear scared either if they are alone or with others. There maybe nothing wrong at all, but then again your observation may go from nothing to evolving into a crisis over the course of time during the event. It helps to have more than one pair of eyes assessing a situation, especially if they are your designated cell phone person who you can signal to call security/police.



3. If you have contacted command staff and they are handling a situation, you and other members can assist by keeping crowds moving, and making sure that people who are not involved do not linger nearby. The more people gathered during a crisis the more likely it will escalate. Handling an emergency with discretion if at all possible is best, especially in the event of it being a mental health crisis.



4. Do not be afraid to speak up. As aforementioned your intuition is very important and can help prevent negative situations at times if you communicate to command staff or other members at the event with you.



5. When in doubt, always consult. Go to your command staff with any concerns at any time.




Debriefing
If a member or group of members experience a crisis situation during an invasion it is a sound practice to always conduct a form of debriefing once the situation is resolved. Often times even if the member themself may not have been the person in crisis, by being present and experiencing the tension, anxiety, any fear, or confusion can be upsetting for them. By having a simple conversation regarding the facts of the matter, addressing the protocol/manner in which the situation was handled/if it should have been handled differently in order to better reduce risk of harm, and answering any questions the member may have will do a lot for everyoneís personal mental health. This simple action goes a long way in helping members to feel more secure in future events due to a better understanding of what occurred and feeling cared for and protected by their command staff and fellow members moving forward.
 


References:
https://www.sandiego.edu/safety/prevention/tips/

https://www.ovcttac.gov/taskforceguide/eguide/1-understanding-human-trafficking/resources-1-understanding-human-trafficking/

https://www.nami.org/Advocacy/Policy-Priorities/Responding-to-Crises/Crisis-Response

https://www.mhanational.org/issues/position-statement-59-responding-behavioral-health-crises

Trauma informed training, Mental Health first aid response training, and personal experience of author as a member of Star Wars Costuming Clubs.

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