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30 April – 5 May: Hostile environment awareness training

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Course: Hostile Environment, Remote Environment and First Aid Training (HEREFAT)
Dates: 16:00 Sunday 30 April to 15:00 Friday 5 May
Location: Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, Torpoint, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Cost: £1,425 + VAT (includes accommodation, meals and accreditation)

Our flagship Hostile Environment, Remote Environment and First Aid Training (HEREFAT) course for NGO workers and journalists gives students the skills that they need to work safely and confidently in challenging situations. It is ideal for aid workers and freelance journalists working in hostile or remote areas, but is also suitable for human rights defenders, campaigners or researchers working in countries with repressive or authoritarian regimes, where they are likely to harassed or surveilled by state agents or organised criminal gangs.

Using workshops, demonstrations and realistic outdoor scenarios, our five-day course will teach you the importance of risk assessments and a security mindset, and train you to recognise and avoid threats to your safety and security as well as how to respond quickly and effectively should a security or medical incident occur. Commonly known as HEAT or HEFAT training, our unique HEREFAT course also includes important instruction in survival and outdoor living skills, which is essential for those working in remote or austere environments.

Although this course includes classroom sessions and workshops, the focus is on scenario-based training, which will provide you with genuine experiential learning by immersing you in the training and offers important opportunities for feedback and reflection. We incorporate the lessons learned from past NGO security incidents, and our syllabus conforms to the reference curriculum drawn up by the European Interagency Security Forum (up to Level 1C, personal security in violent environments).

Course content

1) NGO security essentials

  • Risk assessments and risk mitigation
  • Country intelligence
  • Situational awareness
  • Incident reporting
  • The security triangle: Acceptance, deterrence and protection
  • Hibernation, relocation and evacuation
  • Sexual assault awareness
  • Terrorism and political violence
  • Crime

2) First aid

  • The 4Bs: Breathing, bleeding, breaks and burns
  • Catastrophic bleeding
  • Basic CPR
  • Environmental illness and injury (e.g. heat exhaustion, heat stroke, frostbite and hypothermia)
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration
  • Health and hygiene in the field
  • First aid kits and improvisation

3) Building security

  • Office security
  • Residential security
  • Fire

4) Safe movement

  • Convoy procedures (SOPs)
  • Checkpoint procedures (SOPs)
  • Vehicle safety
  • Crowds, mobs and demonstrations

5) Weapons and explosives

  • Indirect and direct fire
  • Shelling
  • Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and landmines
  • Weapons familiarisation and safety (including pistol, AK-47 and RPG)
  • Understanding and using body armour
  • Surviving an active shooter

6) Kidnap awareness and hostage survival

  • Resilience and stress management
  • Conflict management and de-escalation
  • Principles of self-defence
  • What to expect and how to act in a rescue
  • Differing government responses

7) Communications

  • Radio and sat phone basics
  • Comms procedures
  • Information security

8) Survival and resilience

  • Principles of survival
  • Survival psychology
  • Wilderness survival skills (including food, water, shelter, fire, navigation and rescue)
  • Urban survival principles
  • Grab bags

This residential course is physically and mentally demanding. You will work long days, and spend a considerable amount of time outdoors in all weathers. However, our instructors are there to facilitate your learning and ensure your comfort and safety. Accommodation and facilities are basic but comfortable, and mimic what you might find in the field, including a dormitory, tents and improvised shelters, in order to provide an immersive experience. The food is simple but plentiful, and often cooked over an open fire. As a reward, the final evening offers students the opportunity for a hearty meal and a few drinks with the instructors at a traditional Cornish inn!

We will shortly be accrediting this course, after which students passing the practical and written assessments will receive a NCFE Level 3 Award in Personal Security in Hostile and Remote Environments. The course includes a full day of first aid training, and students passing a short written test will also gain a Level 2 Certificate in Outdoor First Aid valid for three years. 

Hostile environment and first aid training for NGO workers and journalists, 30 April - 5 MayClick To Tweet

Our HEREFAT course has been developed in collaboration with the team at Survival Wisdom. Our instructors are all former armed forces personnel with extensive civilian experience delivering training for NGO workers and journalists. Many of them are former senior instructors at the world-class Defence Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Extraction (SERE) Training Organisation at RAF St Mawgan. We use both male and female instructors on this course.

The course is run at Survival Wisdom’s 865-acre training site in Mount Edgcumbe Country Park on the Rame Peninsula in southeast Cornwall, where we also have exclusive civilian use of the Royal Navy’s training centre at Pier Cellars. The site is easily reachable by train or car from central London. Direct flights from 40 European locations, including London, Paris and Geneva, land at Exeter International Airport, which is one hour by train, car or taxi from Mount Edgcumbe.