Rod Stearns of the Eau Claire County Sheriff Office spoke to students in the massage therapy program on April 1 at the Globe University-Eau Claire campus. He was requested to speak to the students about personal safety since many massage therapists work in one-on-one situations. His tips are useful, not only for Massage Therapists, but for the general public.
Stearns began his safety talk with an illustration of sheep, wolves, and sheep dogs. According to Stearns, “Sheep pretend the wolf will never come, burying their head in the sand.”
Stearns compared the general public to sheep. He considers the sheepdogs the warriors when confronted by a wolf. Stearns believes most people fall somewhere on the continuum between being a sheep and a sheepdog. He offers these safety tips and advice for avoiding the “wolf” in common situations:
1. Stay Alert. Stay focused on your surroundings. Pay attention to areas around your vehicle: trees,shrubs, other cars, and shadows. Do not talk on your phone as it distracts you mentally and blocks your hearing.
2. Keep your hands Free. Make sure you have your car keys in your hand or ready so you do not have to focus on looking for them. Keep one hand free.
3. Watch. Watch the people around you and walk with someone you know if possible.
4. Park with a Purpose: Make sure you avoid parking in a secluded or unlit area when you come to work, even when it is daylight. Stay in well-lit areas when walking. Lock your doors and pay attention to what is around your vehicle when you approach it.
5. Report to others: Let others know you are leaving or call when going to a location to let them know you are on the way.
6. Maintain Your Vehicle: Keep your vehicle in good running condition. Keep your gas tank filled rather than close to empty. Do not “advertise” that you are walking to your vehicle. Look around you before opening the door. Keep your vehicle locked when driving away.
Stearns gave other suggestions about body language. Making the appearance of being a sheep dog rather than a sheep can keep the “wolf” at bay. Stearns recommends that walking briskly, upright, and purposefully will make you appear to be more of a sheep dog if a “wolf” is lurking. It is also important to use a confident voice and wide gestures with your hands and arms if confronted. Stearns concludes with these final words of advice:
7. If confronted, be assertive and let anyone know you are not an easy target.