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4. Centurion Safety, VA
Conflict Awareness: Handle a Hot Zone

"Crack and thump" is a key lesson for U.K.-based Centurion Safety, the school of choice for journalists, aid workers, and private sector professionals bound for potentially hostile climes. Instructors are drawn from the ranks of the British Royal Marine Special Forces, where they acquired frontline experience and later drilled other troops in their expertise: emergency field first aid, incendiary device and booby trap recognition, and survival in climatic extremes. Centurion has been running the five-day HEFAT (Hostile Environments and Emergency First Aid Training) Course for seven years at its U.S. base in Woodstock, Virginia ($3,500; "It’s not a boot camp," says Gary Purssey, instructor and operations manager. "We help our clients raise their awareness of risks and give them options to minimize those risks." Crack and thump falls into the awareness category—crack being the sound of a supersonic bullet ripping past you, and thump the delayed sound of the weapon being fired. Simulated cross fire, snipers, and incoming mortar rounds help drive the point home. The course also teaches first aid using materials found at hand, as well as the art of negotiating the unexpected: Is that a roadblock up ahead, or do those nice armed men just need directions?

We help our clients raise their awareness of risks and give them options to minimize those risks."—Gary Purssey, Centurion instructor

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