The Australian PM Hot-wash

By this point we have all seen the video footage of the Australian Prime Minister getting mobbed by protesters while she was celebrating Australia Day in a restaurant.  In the video you can clearly see that one of the agents decides that they should leave.  What we don’t know is at what point did he make that decision, or what finally prompted him to make the call to end the celebration and exit.  We weren’t there and only he and his team can answer that.

In this video and pictures, you can hear the PM suggest that they help Mr. Abbott, the other VIP attending out of the event as well.  The fact that she suggests that pretty much implies that he does not have protection, otherwise she would have not suggested helping him evacuate.  You clearly see the protection agent’s facial response that suggests “He’s not our responsibility” or “We are not prepared to do that.”  As they exit the restaurant, you can see where things fall apart.  I don’t know what training the uniformed police in Australia have in executive protection, but their actions under duress clearly showed that they were pushing and shoving each other through the process of evacuation.  It was a Charlie foxtrot on their behalf.  As they arrived to the vehicle no one was working the door.  Could this be because they had to split their resources to help Mr. Abbott out of the venue?  I am hoping that is the reason and never believe that it was not their standard procedure.  At the very least, there should have been an agent leading the formation who could have worked the door, but in the gaggle you see more of the Agents and police trailing the formation.  In reality it was the body-man that opens the door to the victor and put her in.  OK, so let’s learn from this incident.  First and foremost, PM Julia Gillard was not seriously hurt and was evacuated “safely” or let’s say she is now safe.  The jury is out whether she was evacuated safely.

Let’s look at the Principal: do you practice shielding and moving with your PRINCIPAL?  What is the use of your knowing how to do it if the person you protect does not know how it works, what it feels like, etc.  Principals who have not gone through a dynamic evacuation drill will resist during the time you actually do it.  It’s a natural response.  Secondly, do you assess what your principal is wearing for the day?  Maybe you have never thought about that but it is critical to observe what they are wearing, especially women.  Skirts and shoes can and will make a difference on mobility and other potential embarrassing situations.

Evacuation versus moving:  Sometimes it is better and safer to move the principal to a safe-room or hold to reassess, gain control of the situation and then evacuate or move to a better location.  The situation will dictate what is better but you have to have a plan.  In the private sector we do not own all of the real estate in which we work. So in many cases moving to a safer place within a venue, gain control by vision or presence then move again.  The strategic moving process alleviates you from being channeled into the “Kill Zone” in private sector protection.

Use of auxiliary personnel:  You are asking for trouble if you misuse any untrained assets that you have access to.  Placing untrained persons within the close-in protection is NOT advisable.  Possibly using them as a middle or outer perimeter is a possibility of you have the resources, but at the very least you can use them to help clear you crisis management pathways [an MTMS term].  Just know what you are getting whenever you employ auxiliary help.

The bottom line is that she was removed and suffered no injuries; however, this is an incident where we all can learn.  What they dealt with is a real time issue we can have today.  Replace the aboriginal people with the Occupy Wall Street Protesters we are dealing with today.  It’s potentially the same thing.  Again, if you couldn’t see that comparison and close that gap when you first saw this incident, maybe you need to re-evaluate your expertise in this industry.  That is the bottom line.  Any of you can get a call tomorrow and have to deal with the many Occupy Wall Street scenarios and if you just show up and have not kept abreast of current events, and new tactics they employ, you are setting yourself up for failure.

You can look at these still pictures and view the incident from another perspective.

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