Monday, December 3, 2007

Startle Response, 2

As I look back at my first "Startle Response" post, I realize that I was trying to cover too much ground in too little space. Maybe I'll write a booklet on the topic, so I can take the time and space to expand & explain. In the meantime, I will try to illustrate the usefulness of the Startle Response with a personal example.

I worked for 9 years as a security officer in a medical facility in another state. At that time, the Emergency Room (ER) staff followed the practice of calling security to the scene whenever the police brought someone in for treatment. One night, I received a call to the ER, as I had many times before.

Two officers had brought the subject, a white male of probably 35-40 yrs, in for treatment of minor injuries sustained in the scuffle when he resisted arrest. One officer was in the exam room with the subject, while the other was off chatting with some nurses. I stationed myself just outside the exam room door, facing the officer & his prisoner.

We carried no firearms, but we did have the Monadnock PR-24 side handle baton, and we took annual certification classes in its use. I had slipped mine out of the ring and had it in my right hand with the long extended portion snugly against the ulnar side of my forearm. The baton was hidden from the prisoner's view by the door frame.

The prisoner sat on an exam table while the officer half-sat half-leaned on another small table in the room. Near the exam table sat a heavy stool, used by physicians. It was made of steel & oak, and it weighed between thirty and forty pounds.

Experience has taught me that I'm the kind of person to whom folks take either an immediate liking or disliking. Evidently, this prisoner fell into the "disliking" category. He sat quietly on the exam table for several minutes, watching, biding his time, and then he sprang into action.

In one smooth move, he came off the exam table, snatched up the stool and brought the edge of its inch-and-a-half oak seat straight down toward my head. It made a dull "thok" sound as it impacted against my baton. I'd had no time to think; both arms were "just there" raised above my head, the protected right arm absorbing the shock, the left hand grasping the stool to gain control of the improvised weapon.

What saved my skull from being crushed like an eggshell? Was it the reflexive startle response? Yes, partly. Was it training? Yes, partly. Was it mindset? Again, yes, partly. (Was it Providence? Yes, entirely!)

Mindset kept me from being lulled, like the police officer, into a complacent state of mind. He did not move from his position until after I was trying to wrest control of the stool from the subject. I won't fault him -- it happens to the best of us (and some of the best die because of it).

Reflex supplied the immediate response of the initial movement. My arms came up convulsively and involuntarily. Then training took over as I continued to bring up my arms and blocked the blow.

Thus, the Startle Response does not form the whole of one's self-defense preparation. It is, however, the cornerstone for everything that comes after it.
I will give you a link to a free video resource in Startle Response, 3

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