Rob Pincus

Communication During a Critical Incident

Rob Pincus
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Duration:   2  mins

When it comes to communication during a critical incident, it is important to stay focused on what you need or what you see that other people need to know about. And that’s it. In this video, Rob Pincus dispels some myths.

During training classes, students often ask Rob about communication during a critical incident such as a home-defense or active-shooter situation. Based on things they have heard in other training classes, or seen in movies, or imagined, many people think they should have code words (especially among family members) or some stylized way to explain complex things during a fight.


In reality, communication is very difficult amid the chaos of a dynamic critical incident. If you do have to communicate something to a family member, friend, 911 operator, or anyone, you must stay very focused. If you need someone to do something for you, say it simply and efficiently, for example, “MOVE!” or “COME TO ME.” Convey only what is important, such as the incident address when calling 911.


Things become confusing when people talk to other people in the environment about what they see. Many people seem to have an uncontrollable urge to tell others there is nothing going on in their area. Or they believe that they must do this from having seen it in movies or perhaps having done it at a training course. Examples include “CLEAR,” “CLEAR RIGHT,” and “THREAT IS DOWN.” If another person is dealing with a threat, this non-essential information can be distracting or worse if misheard, and one or more people could get hurt.

Essential information that you want to tell another person includes if you see the police arriving, if another threat is nearby, or if you’re trying to exit an area and you see a door.

As with most self-defense concepts, we should think about these critical incident scenarios now, before they happen, so that if we do become involved in one, we will be more prepared to act—and react—efficiently and appropriately.

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