Mental Planning

What Would I Do If...

When I was a cop, I had a habit of mentally planning out "what ifs."  When I pulled up to the quickie mart at 2:30 a.m., I went through different scenarios in my head...  a robbery in progress, or a domestic attack?  When I made a traffic stop... what if the passenger throws out some contraband, or the driver is a wanted felon?  When I sat at a stop light... what if the car coming up behind me doesn't stop in time, or the car pulling up beside me is an ambush?

It can border on paranoia, but it also contributed to keeping me safe and alive.  I still try to keep my senses sharp and map out different scenarios, but probably not as much as I used to.

A couple of things happened today that have crossed my "what if" threshold before.  One was the Va. Tech police officer getting killed in his patrol car while doing a traffic stop on another vehicle.  There were apparently a number of bystanders who saw it happen.  The other was a Va. state trooper got in a shootout on the side of the highway in the county where I used to work.  Reports are that motorists stopped and helped.

As you drive along, have you ever thought about what you might do or how you might react if you saw an officer on a traffic stop getting attacked?  Would you do something different if it was a "resisting arrest" vs. an armed attack?  Do you know what mile marker you are near if you have to call 911?  If the guy shoots the trooper and goes to get back in his car, would you be willing to ram him?  I don't know that anyone can really say for sure how they will react, but by having mentally rehearsed different bad situations, a person is more likely to act and do "something," rather than freeze or panic.


  1. As an EMT/FF I did the same thing from that perspective. More than once it came in handy at a later time. Saw news on both incidents today. God be with the Officers and their families.


  2. My father and grandfather were also police officers and I grew up with the "what if" mentality. It drives my friends nuts and I've been told it's a bad obsession but I contribute it to saving my life and others at different times. I know it helped me when I went through the academy, because I already knew how to ask the questions about my surroundings and possible scenarios. I think a few more people need to have the "what if" obsession.

  3. Thanks to your family for your history of service. Stay safe!

  4. From: Brad (E.) The largest "what if" scenario I play over and over in my mind Donald is what to do in the event of a home invasion. It is constantly on my mind while sitting in the comfort of my recliner. You hear so much of this in the news and it seems to be on the rise. I don't typically carry a firearm while inside my home but I do conceal outside my home when working in the yard and at all times off property. I am for sure and most certainly vulnerable while in the comfort of my own home. I have a primary plan and a backup plan. I have rehearsed whith my wife what to do in the event of a home evasion as far as some distractions and most importantly a "line of fire" plan. I have a few strategically placed weapons around the home but with an infant son who will be growing up to todler stage in no time, I will no doubt have to adapt and modify my home invasion defense plan. I just thought I would mention this. Inside the home is where one would feel most safe and comfortable but this is all subject to change in an instant at the sound of a crashing door. God bless

  5. RoBo - All public safety folks should be doing that. It's amazing how often we here of EMTs and FFs getting attacked.

    Brad - You bring up some good points. I think that as your little one grows, you'll need to think about changing from strategically placed firearms to actually carrying in the house. Something like a Ruger LCP or a titanium S&W can be effective, yet light and small enough to drop in the bathrobe pocket. I have a friend who actually has a shower gun as well. Also think about using velcro to secure some high quality OC spray to some elevated access points. And thanks for reading, it's good to hear from you!

  6. I was in law enforcement for almost 30 years and I would do the same thing, "what if". I feel that it really helps to keep you alert and aware and it gives you time to think how you would react and tweek your response to come out on top. It helped me more than once. I have also got my two sons thinking that way. I feel it's a good thing.

  7. I'm with on this. I've developed a habit of running through what if scenarios just prior to doing something, particularly the situation gives cause for concern.


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