Thanks so much to you all for this training. I haven't been out in the field a terrible amount yet in my career, but I appreciate the preparedness and prevention techniques we learned during the seminars and scenarios this week.
Ibrahim Balkhy, Vice News
The 3-day HEFAT training was an excellent introductory course with comprehensive coverage of core areas essential for traveler’s safety. The interactive and engaging training combined lectures, demonstrations and live simulations to effectively educate participants. I especially appreciated the debriefs interwoven throughout the live simulations, allowing participants to explore challenging scenarios in a safe, controlled environment. As an NGO worker who travels frequently, I now feel more equipped with essential skills to avoid, mitigate and respond to risk.
Christine Hooyman, Pact
I have been working in high risk conflict areas for years. I thought I had a good grasp on how to keep myself safe. Nonetheless the HEFAT course was an incredible experience. Frank's team was extremely capable and professional. They answered all our questions and taught us how small details can make a huge difference. I learnt way more than I expected. I highly recommend it.
Benedetta Argentiera, Freelance journalist
Wow, I am floored by the training. Thank you for creating and running such a top-notch operation. I feel extremely lucky to have participated, and with such an amazing group.
Holly Dranginis, Enough Project
Your training was invaluable in preventing our arrest in Bahrain from going even further South. Of course it was frightening in custody and we faced charges we didn't anticipate, but our risk assessment allowed for a thorough activation of our emergency plan, and our digital security prep protected all our sources (we had encrypted drives, were uploading on a secure line as we shot, and we deleted all our phones and laptops remotely as we were taken to the police station). Again, I probably wouldn't have done half the digital security measures had we not taken your course, so I just can't thank you enough.
Anna Therese Day, Freelance journalist
I found the training quite helpful personally. All the lead trainers – Frank, Sara, Shane, Paul, and Brianna – were knowledgeable, engaging and receptive to questions. Frank talked about two discriminators for their approach: the fact that they brought in a multiplicity of views (Australian/British/American special forces) rather than being trained by people from one school of thought/force, and the strong attention to emotional/spiritual care as an integrated and cross-cutting theme for the training. I felt that their attention to multiple viewpoints, and the dedication to the connectivity between emotional/spiritual/physical responses and care were both evident and welcome.
Alex Peterson, International Relief and Development
What a pleasure it was taking the course! The experience was second to none and the preparation aspect truly cannot be quantified.
JB Rasor, documentary photograper
Thank you for the fantastic job you do putting on the courses. My husband and I were behind a minivan that lost control going about 70 mph on the highway late Sunday night, and we were the first on the scene. Miraculously(!), nobody was hurt so fortunately I didn’t have to put the first aid training to use, but I credit GJS with the fact that I was able to keep a clear head and actually be of assistance to the driver (and her 7-month-old baby) until the EMTs arrived. I found myself employing other techniques we learned – checking for danger as I approached the van, being aware of the fact that the airbags hadn’t deployed and positioning myself in a way to avoid injury should they go off belatedly, etc. I think the most important thing that GJS gave me, though, was the confidence to be proactive – providing instructions to the other bystanders, keeping the driver calm and in control, and assessing the situation to give 911 the information they needed.
Kate Arden, International health professional
Frank's fantastic team at Global Journalist Security gave me the exact sort of hostile environment training I had been looking for -- and actually should have had prior to a 12-day reporting trip to Pakistan in 2015. But now, after two intensive days spent learning, participating and practicing everything from first aid in the field, to active shooter scenarios, I feel as though I've built valuable muscle memory that will help safeguard myself and my colleagues on future assignments. That's because GJS goes beyond risk identification and mitigation, to provide practical instruction on actual responses so you know what to do in those "what if" situations.
Mary Cirincione, Freelance Journalist
We had a situation today where a car for sale suddenly started rolling down a street. People were yelling and screaming and a massive crowd of people was following once the car hit a mini-bus. Thankfully, no one was hurt but the yelling and blaming reminded me of the class simulations where huge crowds can suddenly turn into a mob or develop a dynamic of their own. We stayed away from the crowd to draw no attention.
GJS training helped to shape my understanding of particular situations and sharpening my awareness. Most importantly, I have been able to make travel companions aware that certain behaviors are inappropriate or at least warrant analysis and assessment.
Alexandra Amling, One Earth Future
Working with the expert trainers at Global Journalist Security was a fantastic experience. I learned so much during the three-day training. The information was relevant and actionable. I left with real-world skills and -- maybe even more importantly -- an understanding of how I react under pressure.
Alia McKee, Sea Change Strategies
Having gone through similar courses both as a civilian and a member of the military I have to say that the 5 day HEFAT course put on by Global Journalist Security is quite excellent. The method of learning is an appropriate balance of classroom instruction and well executed, realistic scenario exercises. The addition of self-care into the mix was very welcome as well and something that other courses usually do not touch on. I have recommended the course for my organization and others before they travel to a high risk environment.
Anonymous, Oceans Beyond Piracy
Thanks so much [Sara Salam] for your support and sharing your wisdom during the training. ... I've done a lot of work in sexual assault prevention and trauma psychology, and I think you're one of the best instructors I've seen or worked with.
I want to thank you and your team for the fantastic training I received. I did my first trip to an active frontline in Iraq this May and everything I learned was put immediately to use. I couldn't imagine going there without such training. I will be going back to Iraq soon and will no doubt have you and your course to thank again for keeping me safe.
Gavin John, Freelance journalist
GJS have an experienced staff and the right facilities to offer an authentic and properly guided experience for journalists and NGOs who will be traveling to potentially hostile environments. Their "Old City” indoor training facility -- with its dimly lit, confusing maze of alleys and realistic sound affects-- provides a very convincing backdrop for security awareness and first aid trainings in challenging urban situations. I learned a lot from Frank and his team at GJS and I have recommended GJS to the rest of my staff.
Alistair Millar Executive Director, Global Center on Cooperative Security
I know this training will be absolutely essential to my personal safety and self-care in a hostile environment. The HEFAT training has taught me more about myself and provided more knowledge than my entire undergraduate experience. It is a must have for anyone working in hostile areas.
Natalie D. Baker, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University
Our ability to operate safely in South Sudan is of course a testament to Jean-Francois’ excellent work as our security advisor. He always goes above and beyond when in the field with us...He projects a sense of calm in the midst of chaos, and helps keep our team’s spirits high when frustrating situations arise.
Nadine Hoffman, International Women's Media Foundation
I loved the training! Just came back from Colombia and while thankfully we got nowhere near needing to use what we learned, it felt empowering to have those tools on hand.
Alice Speri, Vice News
Without that 50% subsidy, I couldn't have taken the course!
Ben Taub, freelance journalist (The New Yorker)
Really excellent: practical, sensible and hands-on teaching and training about what to expect and how to cope in difficult situations.
Carne Ross, IndependentDiplomat.com
I recommend the 5-Day HEFAT training with Global Journalist Security to any journalist who is serious about reporting from hostile environments. The instructors, drawn from a range a backgrounds and areas of expertise, are first-rate and their lessons covered everything from first aid, to ballistics, to escape and evasion techniques, to emotional self-care. Most of all, the GJS curriculum maximizes learning by striking the perfect balance between classroom presentations, practical exercises, and real-world simulations.
Peter Tinti, Freelance journalist & Rory Peck Trust grantee
The training provided real-world experiences, advice, and resources to practice reacting to the chaos! The scenarios were totally stressful -- I bailed on one of them -- but I feel much better equipped to handle myself in potentially dangerous situations.
Heather White, Population Services International
I believe that every journalist who is up to working in a conflict zone or in a hostile environment should go for the HEFAT course. It’s imperative to his or her safety and wellbeing as well as that of his team. The GJS HEFAT course I have attended gives it all.
Baker Atyani, Al Arabiya
Thanks for a great training! Everyone was excellent—from the instructors to the actors leading to the simulations. I feel confident I have a frame of reference and tools that will help ground me if I find myself in challenging situations (both at home and abroad). I will recommend the course highly to my colleagues.
Margaret Cohen, Population Services International
The degree of professionalism, hands on learning, and instruction by far exceeded any expectations that I could have imagined. It was intense, empowering, and I took home valuable, life-saving skills for mitigating danger to myself and those around me. The training is essential for non-for-profit and NGO staff who work in security risk areas, and is designed to give participants with no military, first aid, or combat training a variety of tools and skills for assessing danger and reducing personal risk. This class is essential for all staff, and especially for females who travel alone or in small groups.
Lee-Ann Gallarano, Population Services International
I found the class very useful. I was also surprised how much I learned about myself. I discovered that stress/adrenaline can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand, which enabled me to find some good coping mechanisms like steady breathing and constant talking with the teammates/conscious casualties. I also learned that I tend to have more of a fight response under pressure - so can work on trying to defuse a situation when possible, rather than escalating it. Finally, the self care module helped underline the importance of not underestimating taking proper care of yourself when exposed to stressful situations - something I will now always bear in mind.
Loic Hofstedt, Agence-France Presse
Just concluded a course on Hostile Environments and Emergency first aid, thanks to IWMF and its partner Global Journalist Security. i think it is the best Journalism training ever. We handled various topics like situational awareness, Basic Digital hygiene, Travel security, combat hazards among other things....back to Gulu safely. The training addressed several gaps especially on security of journalists but also first aid and approaches to different scenarios.
Alex Otto, Ugandan journalist
The Global Journalist Security Training was extremely useful and applicable to a wide variety of situations we may face when traveling internationally, particularly in insecure or dangerous areas. The trainers were highly competent in explaining, demonstrating, and helping us to learn through doing. They were also very flexible and accommodating of our needs, questions, and comfort with simulations. I feel well prepared to respond to a variety of situations in insecure or hostile environments and also to understand and address my own reactions to traumatic events. Thank you GJS!
Giselle Lopez, Peace Tech Lab
Found all the 'first aid under stress', the 'protest preparation' and the ballistics, explosives and 'cover from fire' sections really helpful.
Nick Carew, Vice News
I was at an outdoor ATM on a city street and was just about to withdraw money when I noticed a man approaching quickly from behind and slightly to the side of me. His body was angled toward me, and I assumed he was going to ask for money, but I felt threatened by how quickly he was moving and the fact that he was approaching while I was at an ATM. I remembered what I had been taught in the Global Journalist Security training with Frank Smyth and Sara Salam, so I quickly put my arm out, palm forward and said in a very loud commanding voice, "DO NOT APPROACH ME WHILE I AM AT AN ATM." The man immediate stopped. He stared at me for just a moment, then ran away. I don't know what his intention was, but I felt happy and confident that I was able to stop his approach and protect myself this way.
Jenn Williamson, Counterpart International
This is to say thank for both the theoretical and physical skills that you trained me on during the journalist security training.
I know these skills will play a big role in saving my life and the lives of others while I do my day to day work. In a nutshell, the skills you trained me in made me a better journalist with life saving skills.
Thank you once again and wish you the best in your endeavors.
Gladys Oroma, Ugandan journalist
Global Journalist Security trainers provide highly professional instruction tailored to our specific needs and adjusted according to our students’ experience levels and interests. The flexibility, professionalism and range of instruction makes them a great choice for us and for anyone intending to send reporters to potentially hostile situations.
Ellen Shearer, William F. Thomas Professor of Journalism, Director, Medill National Security Journalism Initiative
I have never been through such a thorough and informative security training. Thank you, GJS. The arc of my training went something like this: Scared coming in. Informed going out. Confident moving forward. I thought the entire training was remarkable and I think you are a great team. I was thoroughly engaged, even hooded, assaulted, threatened, and on my knees! I am grateful for your good work.