top of page
  • Writer's pictureLeMareschal

How prepared and trained are you to deal with a “crisis situation” as an executive protection agent?

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

We have always supported the need for a continuum of training, qualification, and evaluation for people who work throughout the security industry. Our type of profession requires operatives to perform, at the top of their skill set and ability, in any number of situations that may require hard physical activities, training in various disciplines, possession of comprehensive knowledge when it comes to security measures, and, most crucially, a sharp mind and the ability to take actions and react fast in a crisis situation. It is we who are required to act calmly and with steadfast resolve when all others have lost all sense of control. But bear in mind, while we all strive to train in some of the “sexier” skills in EP, sometimes the very basic abilities and adherence to fundamental policies will make all the difference in the world.

Photo by geralt via Pixabay

For example, we would like to bring to your attention an incident that took place in Turkey some years ago involving Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an incident that was riddled with many mistakes made, one after another, by his Executive Protection Team. It was this particular security failure that was one of the primary reasons that led to major changes in the security detail protocols in Turkey.

According to sources, Mr. Erdogan, a few minutes after leaving the Turkish Parliament and entering his vehicle, started feeling unwell and lost consciousness. His chauffeur and his executive protection agent panicked. And from that moment forward, a series of significant errors began to unfold.

Neither the chauffeur nor the executive protection agent seemed to have any background or training in First Aid. When they saw their client in the back of the car lose consciousness, they immediately drove the car, in a reckless manner and at excessive speeds, to get to the hospital which was on the other side of town. In hindsight, they should have driven to the Parliament Health Center, which was quite close to them. And, while speeding en route to the hospital, they managed to lose the rest of their security convoy and found themselves all alone racing through the streets.

When they finally arrived at the hospital, both driver and executive protection agent got out of the vehicle at the same time, thus putting themselves in yet another embarrassing circumstance and their client in a potentially dangerous situation, according to the Hurriyet Press. “Erdogan’s chauffeur, found himself in a panic as he rushed from the Mercedes Tuesday morning in front of Ankara’s Guven Hospital, inadvertently leaving the keys to the car in the ignition, which meant the locks on all of the doors, which had proceeded to shut automatically, could not be opened. It took security detail members 10 minutes to break open the window of the armored Mercedes. Critically valuable time, added doctors, who note that had Erdogan experienced any health problems more serious than a hypoglycemic faint, he could have died during that period.”

Although this specific incident might serve well as a valuable advertisement for Mercedes armored cars in regard to how difficult it is to break their windows, it certainly placed Mr. Erdogan in a precarious situation and his security team in an even more awkward and quite embarrassing position. As their client lay unconscious inside the car, his security team struggled for about 10 minutes to break the thick window of the armored car, aided by workers at a construction site near the hospital who brought a sledgehammer and a chisel.

According to the New York Times, the newspaper Hurriyet called it “a security scandal,” while another paper, Sabah, asked, “What if the prime minister was having a heart attack?”

While we all may offer up a number of solutions for this incident, there are a couple of basic truths that, if followed, would have alleviated most of these issues. One, possessing a second set of keys for our client’s sedans is a godsend in a moment like this. We all have seen several incidents recently where the security team couldn’t seem to locate the keys for the limo, leaving the client standing exposed to the crowds nearby, the paparazzi, and who knows what other risks or threats. In this particular circumstance, the result could have been fatal. Secondly, as we are all clearly aware, the driver should NEVER leave the vehicle. If this basic truth had been adhered to, there would not have been the excruciatingly long moments trying to break into the sedan.

There are a number of reasons that the security driver stays behind the wheel at all times and while this is not the first example that comes to mind, this certainly made the point quite clear. And lastly, had the driver kept the convoy together as a unit, there is a good chance that several of the mishaps could have been minimized or avoided altogether. This event exemplifies the prime reason for SOP’s that would address many of these issues, and with continued training, could eradicate mistakes that have potentially serious consequences.

Following that incident, some of the crucial changes to Erdogan’s security detail were that a doctor will accompany the Prime Minister on both domestic and international trips, an ambulance will also be included as a part of Erdogan’s normal convoy package, and last, but very importantly, all security Ankara officials agreed that chauffeurs, driving the official vehicles used by the Prime Minister, must go through special “crisis situation” training.

A real-life incident such as this combined with circumstances that anyone of us could be called to deal with illustrates the imperative need to make certain you are properly prepared and thoroughly trained to respond in a professional and effective manner to whatever life may throw in your path. It is always wisest to have skills and training and not need it than to need a particular skill(s) or skillset and not have it or be trained properly in it. We in our Craft always make the humorous comment that your client will, most likely, never suffer an ill moment or awkward circumstance unless you are unprepared for it. We have no idea what the future holds. Plan as though everything is real…Train as though the weight of the entire issue rests in your hands… It’s all up to you.


bottom of page