How to get your Principal safely in and out of venues. Orthodox and un-orthodox drills and dealing with crowds.
Embus and Embussing are military slang words adopted by Close Protection Officers. Essentially, the words refer to board or boarding a bus or vehicle. Similar words, debus or debussing mean alighting from (getting out of) a vehicle.
The permutations for getting a VIP from a vehicle into a venue and then back into the vehicle are enormous. These notes discuss the basics and cannot take in all the variables that may prevail such as the actual location, how close you can get to it, the presence of fans, press, public, etc. Is the VIP expected or not? Is he or she high or low profile? What is the threat level? All of these factors will affect your embus and debus drills.
Because of all the variables and more importantly, our vulnerability when we are out of the vehicles and on the pavement, we must practise our embus and debus drills so that nothing is left to chance. Looking slick and professional can actually deter an attack.
Remember that any pre-planned attack on us will involve some surveillance. If someone is watching you, then give them a show. Let them see that attacking you might end in tears for them! Even if your aim is to maintain a low profile, you should raise it a little at times of embus. You will not damage your low profile too much, because even if your profile is much higher than normal you will only ever be on the pavement for a very short time. Traditionally, there are two types of debus, called orthodox and, you’ve guessed it, unorthodox, so you might hear about orthodox drops or unorthodox pick-ups.
Orthodox embus and debus
Orthodox is when the Principal can embus or debus from the same side of the vehicle as the venue. In other words, he doesn’t have to cross live traffic to get to the venue.
Unorthodox embus and debus
Unorthodox is when the Principal has to embus/debus on the opposite side of the vehicle to the venue and we have to cross the road to get to the venue.
The vehicle should be in position before the Principal departs from the venue, but if this is a public venue the vehicles should arrive as late as possible. Especially if the cars attract undue attention by arriving too early and having to wait.
The vehicle should get as close to the exit as possible. If at all possible, embusses should be made away from the public. Back doors and car parks that are not overlooked may well be safer. The driver will throughout be looking for and mentally rehearsing an escape route should anything occur during the embus.
The driver will be in gear, engine running with the door locked. He will be continually scanning all 360 degrees, ready to unlock the doors at the very last second as the Principal approaches.
When you enter the vehicle, your backside enters the vehicle first. Once that is on the seat you can swing your legs in. If the vehicle has to move before you put your legs in, then just lifting them will ensure that you are in the vehicle and OK. Those that ignore this advice and enter a vehicle by putting one foot inside before they get on the seat will find that it is almost impossible to get in as the car leaves you behind.
Stop as close as possible to the entrance and the kerb, with good 360 degree observation.
Remain in gear, and cover the brakes.
Throughout the debus, the driver will be looking for and mentally rehearsing an escape route should anything occur during the procedure.
The PES vehicle will position himself as close to the Principal’s car as possible but without blocking himself in. A simple method of judging this is to get as close as you can while still being able to see the tyres of the vehicle in front. The PES wheels will point out in to the road and the car will be slightly offset giving cover to the Principal’s vehicle.
The PES driver will be looking for and mentally rehearsing his ‘action-on-drills’ should anything occur during the procedure. The engine will be running and the vehicle in gear, leave the Principal’s door open, so that you can get back in quickly if anything happens. The driver can shut the door when you are in the venue.
Remember how vulnerable you are on the street during the embus and debus. You must really be animated on the street. Do your jobs well and importantly and look as though you are doing it well. Be slick and professional and make any potential attacker who’s watching you think twice before taking you on. We will now run through some of the more common scenarios that you will encounter.
One-on-one debus orthodox
You are working one-on-one and you may well be the driver too! Try to get the Principal’s door directly in line with the entrance of the venue. This will keep your vulnerable pavement time to a minimum. The Principal should be briefed to remain in the vehicle until you open the door for him, ideally locking the vehicle again as you shut the door and only opening it again when you give him the okay to do so. If the venue or building is considered to be pretty safe then the Principal could enter first with the Bodyguard aware of danger from both flanks and behind. If the building could be hostile, maybe full of press, fans or demonstrators then the Bodyguard should stay very close and enter at the same time as the VIP if possible.
One-on-one embus orthodox
Leaving a secure venue, the danger is from the front so the Bodyguard would leave the building first, closely followed by the Principal. The VIP should get into the vehicle first; the Bodyguard should ensure that the Principal’s door is secure. He should then get in and the vehicle should move off immediately. If the Bodyguard is also the driver, he will lock the doors with the remote, even for the short time it will take him to reach the driver’s door.
One-on-one embus and debus unorthodox
Whenever you have an unorthodox embus or debus you must consider whether it is safer for the VIP to open the door into traffic or open the door to the pavement side and walk to the rear of the car and cross the road. The actual drills for entering the building are the same for the orthodox. If you are the driver as well as the Bodyguard then ensure that you have parked somewhere safe and that you have locked and alarmed the car.
With the PES backup car; orthodox embus debus
Should the threat level require a PES then normally they will be used to provide additional cover during the debus. The embus is a complete reversal of the debus except that one of the PES (normally the team leader) will open the door just as the VIP approaches. On debus the VIP’s door is left open so that should something happen quite near the car, the Bodyguard can quickly return to the car and make an escape. It is the responsibility of the driver to shut the car door when the VIP is in or very near the venue and also to stop any illegal entry into the car while the door is left open.
With the PES backup car; unorthodox embus debus
Again, consideration should be given as to the best side for the VIP to get out. Normally, the best option is for him to exit onto the pavement and then cross the road between his and the escort’s car.
Dealing with crowds.
You may find yourself in a situation where you have to get a Principal in or out of the vehicle while the vehicle is surrounded by people. These people could be fans of the VIP if he or she is rich and famous. They might be demonstrators or they could be members of the press or paparazzi. If this is the case then you should discuss with the Principal what his priorities are because crowds, no matter who they are, should always best avoided. If you need to face the crowd then in order to move around you need to be very positive. Use your communication skills. You should be very firm, always using your voice to move people, touching them only as a last resort and even then with a positive “excuse me”. Never swear or get aggressive when working with the crowds unless absolutely necessary.
If you are trying to stop photographers getting pictures of your Principal then place your body between the camera and the Principal. Do not place an outstretched hand toward the camera. This can make for a very dramatic but damaging photograph that may show your Principal in a poor light. If photographs are taken you cannot demand that the film or memory be given to you. If you are in a public place then the law in most of the Western world allows photographers to take pictures of anyone they choose. You will be breaking the law if you take film or camera memory cards from them.
If crowds are surrounding a car that you need to exit from or gain entry to, you must try and control the crowd with your voice. Fans can be told to give you some room, and photographers can be told that they will get their pictures if they move back. This can be a very difficult position to be in if you’re on your own. If you have a PES then they can, of course, clear a channel to the door of the venue or back to the vehicle for you.
With the press, unless your Principal wants to talk to them you should keep moving. If they are in your way just walk right at them. Photographers will try to move out of the way as their best pictures are obtained when they are at least a metre away. They are experts in the art of walking backwards, taking pictures as the do so. Most press photographers these days really do have to work hard to make a living. The ‘press pack’ seem to be getting scruffier, more aggressive, and much more determined to take risks and liberties to get the picture. You do not want to make enemies of these people and should always treat them with respect, but if you are too nice to these people they will see it as a weakness and exploit it. Always be firm and professional in your dealings with them.
Learn your drills well but remember that above all you must make the drills flexible. Throughout the embus you will be carrying out a dynamic threat assessment and the positions that you adopt will reflect this assessment. Most of the procedures will be high profile, this is a vulnerable time and you must look professional and capable throughout. If the Principal is going to be in the venue for some time you should consider the best place for the cars to park up, this is especially important if the cars are very flash and are likely to attract attention or there are parking restrictions. The last thing you need is to be explaining to the Principal that you have to wait until you can get a clamp removed or the car back from the pound.