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Weekly Speaker Program

March 12, 2018: Debra deWaal, Safe & Sound Safety Training and Consulting Ltd.     website

Debbie Barry introduced our guest speaker, Debra deWaal. Debra is a former Calgary police officer and is now the owner of Safe & Sound Safety Training and Consulting Ltd. Debra's 10 years in policing included working on the street as a uniformed officer and three years undercover work in auto theft, stolen property and vice.

Debra is a member of the Association of Professional Speakers and has been developing and facilitating mental toughness, personal safety and conflict management training to Canadians since 1995. Her topic: BE SAFE, NOT SORRY!

Debra did a great job demonstrating with movement and facial expression her experiences at city of Calgary police. She loved her job. She even had to pose undercover as a prostitute! Her sexiest feature she says are her teeth, so she gave us the big sexy smile that she used on the beat as an undercover officer. She became frustrated with policing, which she described as "going to a call and then putting a Band-Aid on the problem". She left the police service and found her career in teaching and lecturing about prevention.

In small groups, we discussed what we would do if someone came up from behind and physically grabbed us. In her humorous and shared-audience responses, we discovered that the best thing to do if attacked is to yell loudly, and yell anything, so that the victim can alarm the attacker and draw attention to the violent act. In times of extreme stress, Debra tells us that our fine motor skills do not work well and that includes speech. Often the victim freezes up! So, even if no one is around, yell!

Attackers look for victims and there are clues that victims would be prey for them, like people wearing headphones.

Other actions for self-defence include elbow jabs, stomping on feet or kicking back. Debra suggested a groin strike is good for men and women attackers. Also, the head butt is an option for self-defence. Also try a quick drop and then run!

She suggests that women going to their cars alone should look around. Have the key ready to insert in the lock and enter the car quickly. Key in hand can also be a weapon. Her most important lesson is to psychologically prepare yourself and create a safety plan that works for you. "Everyone can do something!"

Debra's gem to take home is "CHOOSE". Choose to fight or not fight, with clarity and conviction! Debra confided that at 15 years of age she was violently attacked and raped, and she froze. Only 14% – 16% will respond under stress. Prevention is the key, so share with anyone 12 years and up. Make a choice! And get out of there! Run! 90% is mental and 10% is physical! Make A Plan Now! Have a bottom-line! If you think you can, or can't, you are right!

Marlene, gave the thanks of the club to Debra. Her presentation was meaningful and interesting to all! She also presented Debra with our world-famous Boltman.

  • Marlene Doherty, Debra deWaal, and Ben Kormos Marlene Doherty, Debra deWaal, and Ben Kormos

reported by Marie Rickard

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