Situation Awareness and the OODA loop (in action)

I read this story this morning and I found it interesting from a few different viewpoints, but wanted to write about it from the Situation Awareness (SA) viewpoint, since I’m teaching a class on that this weekend. Those of your who know what the OODA loop is may not need to read this link (, but that is what jumped out for me in this story.  Read it, and notice what Maria does and how quickly, with the resultant outcome….

Teens in a mob assault and rob Center City patrons

By Mike Newall

Inquirer Staff Writer

The two young women were sitting at a window table inside the Max Brenner restaurant on 15th Street, near Walnut, sharing chocolate fondue after some shopping.The streets were vibrant. The weather was nice.”The city had a good vibe,” remembered one of the women, Maria, who requested her full name not be printed.But their night on the town was about to become frightening.Heading their way was a pack of teens roving through Center City after leaving a North Philadelphia music festival.They were part of about 100 or more young people who had left Saturday night’s event, police said, committing a series of violent assaults and robberies, including one against Maria, 25, of North Philadelphia, and her cousin Cecilia, 29, of Havertown….

…..Maria and Cecilia were enjoying their dessert at Max Brenner, with its large, open bay doors. Afterward, Maria, an interior and industrial designer, had planned to visit a Northern Liberties art exhibit. Cecilia was heading home.The women had spent the afternoon dress shopping. Maria is getting married soon.About 10 p.m., Maria said, she saw a shirtless teenager run past the restaurant.”He was running in the middle of the street and looked like he was running away from someone,” she said.Maria tucked away her phone and wallet, which had been sitting on the table.She grew up in Brazil, she said, and was more street-smart than her cousin.Before she could tell Cecilia to put her cell phone away, another teen reached through the window and snatched it.Maria ran out after him.She was on the sidewalk, starting to scream “thief,” she said, when someone from behind punched her in the jaw.She said she turned, jaw throbbing, to see the girl who had hit her standing with five other teens. “What are you going to do?” she said the girl who had punched her yelled.The teens were laughing, she said. “They were fearless. It seemed like they weren’t taking anything serious.”…

Did you catch it?

Did you see how Maria’s OODA loop worked for her? (initially anyway)

Her cousin, well, not so much.

The point that jumped out at me is how quickly Maria observed the situation, oriented towards it, decided, and then acted to put her phone and wallet away.  I’m impressed. It’s uncommon in the US and it allowed her to keep her things.

What are the ways that you use the OODA loop?  How is it embodied for you?  How should it be embodied?

Great job Maria!



Basic Narrative of Ready 5

Ready 5 builds competency in people and families preparing for an uncertain future. Through training, education, and hands-on practicals, our instructors guide students through embodying skills in 11 different domains that enable people to thrive in any type of environment. These domains are:

Physical Protection

Food and Water


Practical Fitness

Medicine and First Aid

Enduring Mindset


Situation Awareness and Anticipation

Planning and Contingency Operations

Tools, Equipment and their Usage


“Don’t we already do that?”, you may ask. Sure, some better than others, but we are also doing that in a peaceful, non-threatening, and supporting environment (as of today). What we do know is that the peace, abundance and freedoms that we had in the past may not always be there in the future. The history of humans teach us that periods like this do not last forever. Riots, food shortages, crime, economic distress, unemployment, earthquakes, hurricanes and more threaten our way of life every day. The threats are real and can be read about in any newspaper today.

If you accept this knowledge it leaves us with a challenge of what to do about it. We can worry about it and not do anything, work haphazardly to address the concerns, or follow a well-designed program to systematically prepare for any eventualities at a speed appropriate to your situation. Ready 5 is this option!

Designed with input with federal, state and local authorities, we’ve taken the strategic approach to helping people take care of these domains no matter what happens in the future. We won’t fixate on worst-case scenarios, but instead will focus on enabling skills that will help people and families thrive even in those scenarios.

The ready 5 program takes students through 5 levels of knowledge and action. Through a mixture of classes, training, practicals in each of the domains, we move beginners through to what we call highly proficient levels of action. The knowledge is liberating once you begin to embody these skills. Nobody sane ever wants these bad things to happen, but knowing how to act, and having practiced those skills will build a confidence for you and your family no matter what happens!