Introducing Wheels Up Podcast Co-host Steve Albritton

We’re excited to introduce co-host, Steven Albritton, to our listeners.

Steve Albritton served with the Marines and a state police force in the USA before taking on a role as security manager for a high net worth individual and family.

Since leaving that role, Steve has established OPStructure, an industry consultancy taking on project work but focussing on executive protection recruitment and team building.

Steve is the principal owner of OPStructure, based out of Florida. He has vast experience in the security world, not only in the USA but internationally. Executive protection is a very different ball game in the USA, so it will be great to get Steve’s view on particular topics and past experiences working within and outside of the USA.

Panoptic Solutions, Troy Claydon and Opstructure’s Steve Albritton will be bringing you key professionals at the top of their game in specific industries to discuss key safety and security issues. Furthermore, they will be able to provide expert commentary on all matters relating to safety and security from both sides of the world.

Highlights within this Wheels Up Podcast episode:

1. Politics moulding the security industry

2. OPStructure overview

3. Mention of ASIS international

3. Challenges faced by smaller executive protection companies

4. Update on Panoptic Solutions

5. What to expect from the Wheels Up as a team moving forward

Go to Itunes, stitcher or which ever podcast platform you’re using and give us a rating. If you like what we do we would love to see 5 stars! If you have any ideas for the show, leave it in the comments section or email us at .  Tell us what you like or what you dont like. Want us to interview a particular guest? Then let us know.

A holistic approach to close protection services – Interview with Ronin SA’s Timm Smith.


Close Protection, Close Personal Protection, Bodyguarding or Executive Protection, call it what you will, there is an art to providing a professional service. With a global network of graduates who started as students searching for that level of professionalism,  Ronin SA is cited as one of the most renowned civilian training academies for protection training. Located in Cape Town South Africa, the academy has an unmatched environment that covers all aspects of protection training from firearm competency training to experiencing frontline ambulance shifts, all in the heart of South Africa and its unpredictable climate.

In this episode, you’ll hear from the founder of Ronin SA, Timm Smith, who has an unprecedented CV within the personal protection arena. You’ll learn all about Timm’s journey, the creation of Ronin SA and its high standards while learning what it takes to be a Ronin student and graduate.

Episode Highlights:

1. Differences between the UK and the US for close protection training
2. The evolution of close protection training
3. Battles within a unified war
4. Bringing the medical aspect into the protection space
5. Despite Ronin SA strict application process, their high standards mean 25% of students do not make it to graduation
6. What makes a great Ronin student
7. How do highly qualified doctors hold up against Ronin’s standards
8. What’s next for Ronin SA?

Ronin SA offers advanced world class expert training throughout the year. There are several courses on offer including their close protection training as well as their emergency care and medical training packages.

Training details are outlined on the Ronin SA website. There is even a pop up where you can talk direct to the staff.

Dont forget to go to Itunes and give us a 5 star rating if you enjoy the podcast. If you want to read other blogs or listen to more great interviews click this link to go to other podcasts

If you have any tips or advice on how we can make the podcast better, go to and let us know, or if you just want to know more about what we do you can vist our webite 

Wheels Up Security Podcast- Wheels Up Is Back With Some Exciting Changes

Sorry to have left you hanging – we’ve been on a quick breather due to the workload with clients across multiple countries. We’re back, and we’ve made some exciting new changes to the format of our podcast.

In this podcast, you’ll find out about our changes, hear our outstanding lineup of guest speakers for the next several weeks and get a quick update on Panoptic Solutions.

Wheels Up Episode Highlights:

What’s been happening.
Our latest lineup of guests to appear on the show
Announcing a new part time co-host.
Update on Panoptic Solutions
Missing persons case, Annapuranee Jenkins.
Quick note on ANZAC Day.

Listen to the latest Podcast update embedded at the bottom of this article.

Dont forget to go to Itunes or your Podcast platform and vote. The more stars the better!

You can find more episodes on our Blogs page.

Thanks for listening.

Gold Coast Bulletin – Gold Coast Firm provides bodyguard paramedics to the rich

Ryan Keen, Gold Coast Bulletin – A GOLD Coast military veteran believes he’s on to a winning formula, providing executive protection with paramedics who double as bodyguards.

Ex-Australian Defence Force member Troy Claydon said his company, Panoptic Solutions, was thriving with increasing numbers of high net-worth people seeking its combination service in the past six months.

The 39-year-old started the firm in 2011 after 14 years in the military and five years in war-torn Iraq as a private security contractor.

The idea for Panoptic, which has a charge out rate of $1000 to $2000 a day, came after he spent some Iraq leave in South Africa with a team of paramedics.

“My plan was always to try and put those two services together — the medical and the security. They go so well together.

“When I tell people I’m in the medical security business, they do a double-take.”

On return to the Gold Coast from Iraq in 2009, Mr Claydon signed up for the Queensland Ambulance Service and trained as a paramedic.

The company’s medical director is Brisbane former army doctor Kieran McCarthy, who has experience attached to Special Operations teams in Afghanistan.

The chief operating officer Simon Taylor is a former combat medic.

Mr Claydon said having bodyguards with high-level medical training provided great peace of mind for people seeking personal protection.

“If something goes wrong, whether you’re injured or whatever, the first person people look to are the bodyguards,” he said.

“And while most bodyguards are trained in emergency medicine or first aid, they don’t generally have paramedic-level training.”

Mr Claydon will not disclose the identity of his high-profile clients but says he has looked after executives, television personalities and Department of Defence staff.

A looming job includes protection for an American at the Olympic Games in Rio.

Panoptic’s range of jobs have included helping relocate women escaping domestic violence, bigshot executives on business trips and wealthy families on holidays.

They also do transport logistics plus “health intelligence”, assessing medical treatment facilities in overseas areas.

“We did a job on the Gold Coast for a retail manager who was extorted — he was kidnapped, tortured and extorted.

“After that incident he started receiving more threats and we put a protection detail on him.”

His firm takes on about six “big” jobs of three to four weeks each a year plus smaller ones.

Demand for the services had increased noticeably in the past six months which he believed was due to increasing fear of random terrorist threats.

“People are realising the world has changed, this kind of security is becoming more important.”

Mr Claydon said he was no Kevin Costner in reference to the famous movie The Bodyguard.

“We’re very low-key and discreet — we don’t walk around with earpieces in and dark sunglasses on.

“That’s not what we do.”

Bodyguard, Paramedic or Both? Experience in the protection detail.

As we see the rapid realisation by Executive Protection Agents & Bodyguards worldwide of the need to increase their medical qualifications, the prudent point of experience and ongoing exposure must be taken into account.

As previously demonstrated with the role of executive protection, it is one thing to have a certificate for a course, however experience and exposure to the working environment proves invaluable.

The same cannot be truer for the medical capability of this role. With the evolution of EP/EMT qualifications the need to have a method of ongoing exposure and gained experience in pre hospital medicine is imperative. Medical knowledge, skills and training are all perishable and easily lost if not routinely practised.

With the nature of this role when your medical skills are required it will be under pressure and probably in very difficult circumstances. To then be standing in front of your client trying to recall the lessons of your course is unacceptable.

Maintaining Skills

For instance, here at Panoptic Solutions our EP/Paramedics are able to maintain skills and qualifications by working with local EMS and ambulance services. Our EMT’s conduct regular continuation training overseen by our Paramedics, as well as participate as first responders treating actual patients at the events covered by our medical wing – Panoptic First Response.

Maintenance of all skills surrounding executive protection operations is imperative to ensure a well rounded protection service to the principal/client. Simply firing a pistol once a year doesn’t make you a marksman, conducting 3 days of defensive tactics doesn’t make you a bodyguard and conducting 1 week of EMT training doesn’t make you a medic. These are all great starting points, however, its up to the individual to conduct professional development and up to the security provider/company to ensure that appropriately trained personnel are tasked within the team.

Australian Bodyguards & EP Providers – 5 tips



Professional Australian Bodyguards and Executive Protection Providers can be a rare commodity. Searching for an executive protection provider for the first time can be slightly daunting.  Here are some things to look for which, in our view, are good indicators of competence and quality when searching for Australian Bodyguards.

Field Experience

The experience and qualifications of the personnel are usually highly indicative of the caliber of service the security firm will provide.  Look for high-quality military or law enforcement experience and inquire about the length and sophistication of that experience.  Additionally, check if the personnel have advanced qualifications or formal training such as medical or executive protection certifications. If so, where are those qualifications from and how do they compare with the highest industry standards. Australian Bodyguards and EP operatives with international field experience are a value add.

Licensing Requirement

Each state requires security firms to hold a license. Boutique firms can utilise strategic alliances with partnering companies when operating out of state. Furthermore, each executive Protection Operative needs to hold a valid Australian Bodyguards Licence.


Excellent communication is a key determinant of the overall quality of an executive protection provider.  If the company representative or your account manager does not take the time to effectively communicate with you early on, they may not address the nuances of your needs later on.  When first engaging with them, look for how clearly and confidently the company presents itself. Do the representatives put you at ease?  How well do they listen to you?

Value for money

Executive protection is not cheap and, if you’re getting professionals, it shouldn’t be.  When the cost of an executive protection service looks especially low, the value for money is likely even lower.  This is due to the economics of this business: The price is highly sensitive to experience and qualifications, legal and operating costs, etc.  Nonetheless, do look for value for money. Ensure that you are getting qualified and highly competent professionals as indicated by their experience and qualifications (not goons in suits). There are some other value-adds to keep an eye out for. Are they bilingual or know the language of a country you are traveling to? Do they have advanced medical training? Are there male and female personnel? These and other add-ons make for an excellent team.

Company Reputation

This can be as simple as a Google search or checking through online forums. You may find something that doesn’t sit right with you for whatever reason, so be willing to dig deeper. Try to get a sense of what the company stands for? What are its values and how are they indicated in the behavior of the company (not just a shiny website with cliché words).  If you go with a reputable provider with a professional and positive culture, you can’t go wrong. For example, Panoptic Solutions has invested a lot of time into ensuring we have the right people performing the right job in a positive and professional work environment. Look for companies with a similar approach. Furthermore, if the company has referals located on their website be sure to view and explore these further. Who are they from and what type of weight do the hold, an exapmle of quality referals and refernces can be found at the bottom of Panoptic Solutions home page )

Are you travelling to Australia and need security for you, your family or your staff?

Contact Panoptic Solutions today and talk with one of our protection specialists about Australian Bodyguards and Executive Protection services in Australia. Call +61 1300 651 407 or email us at


Sydney Bodyguards & Executive Protection Services

Sydney Bodyguards : Sydney, Australia has an active criminal element like every other major city around the world. Corporations and Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) frequently turn to local Sydney protective services to keep senior executives, visitors, and family members safe.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2015/2016 the New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) responded to, 29,444 domestic violence-related reports, 31,442 reports of violent assaults, non-domestic related, 6,850 acts of sexual offenses and indecency, and 4,959 sexual assaults. There were 32 attempted murders in 2016 and 62 homicides.

The Australian government continues to rate the terrorism risk for Sydney and the rest of Australia as “probable.”

From 2014-2017, there were 12 disruptive plots and four terrorist attacks, many of which occurred in Sydney NSW.

Sydney Bodyguards – Essential Safety and Security Duties

Sydney Bodyguards or Executive Protection (EP) operatives/agents, often called bodyguards, perform important safety and security duties in Sydney for residents and tourists.

The older more general label “bodyguard” conjures visions large, massive and imposing individuals surrounding the protectee. While bouncers and others may engender that stereotype, effective personal protection requires much more than an intimidating presence.

Executive Protection Agents or Operatives provided by Premier Security and Risk Management companies in Sydney like Panoptic Solutions provide comprehensive security planning tailored to the individuals lifestyle.

Executive Protection professionals use preparation and planning to identify risks and take steps to mitigate the potential threats before any actual attack occurs. EP specialists often protect the client’s family and offer customisable security packages that use risk assessments.

Celebrity and UHNWI Visitors Security

Sydney bodyguards provided by premier Security and Risk Management companies in Sydney know the city and region exceptionally well. Sydney is one of Australia’s most well known cities with it’s scenic harbor and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, tourists, corporate executives and high profile personalities travel from all over to visit. Professional Australian Bodyguards and Executive Protection Operatives have the knowledge and experience of working with the various venues and locations visited by celebrities and UHNWIs. This experience, along with their training and expertise in security planning,  non-lethal force, defensive and offensive driving tactics, and other professional attributes provide exceptional service to high-profile visitors.


Residential and Hotel Security

Principal Security and Risk Management companies in Sydney have worked extensively with various hotels where local companies hold events or house visiting executives. The relationships with hotels and other local security personnel are force multipliers for their clients.


Executive protection personnel offered by Australian, New South Wales private security service companies combine professional training with local knowledge and secure transportation to service clients.

These highly trained professionals are relied upon to provide for the safety of clients.

Sydney Bodyguards and Executive Protection Operatives are vital services for those executives, high profile personalities and Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and families who travel to or reside in NSW.


Travelling or living in Sydney or other regions of Australia and require secure transportation or a professional Executive Protection services? Contact Panoptic Solutions to talk with one of our security specialist about how we can support you, your family or your team.

+61 1300 651 407

Unarmed Executive Protection Australia, Asia and Beyond

Unarmed vs Armed Bodyguards and Executive Protection Australia, Asia and Beyond – lets discuss.

The world we live in today is full of threats.

One out of every five women and one in thirteen men are victims of stalking.

Every year 12,000 to 15,000 people are held captive.

Emotionally Disturbed Persons (EDP’s) and mentally unstable fans pose viable threats to celebrities and public officials.

While modern policing improves every day, there is still an average wait time of 5-15 minutes for help to arrive in emergency situations where each second counts. This wait time can be a lot longer in underdeveloped countries. Having personal protection means trained security professionals are present to immediately respond.

Providing security and protection for your management team can help mitigate this threat.

Here enters executive protection services (EP). Executive Protection Australia, Asia, and across the world is becoming more prevalent. The demand for professional Executive Protection services has increased exponentially the last few years across Australia and Asia as well as many other countries.

In some cases a protective team may include the use of armed personnel, however, this may not necessarily be the case to ensure effectiveness.

To be 100% clear before going any further, this is not an anti-gun article. Where the threat dictates and the option to engage or the offer of professional armed EP services is available, this should be the first avenue of enquiry. In fact, many security firms such as Panoptic Solutions are not able to provide armed EP within their own country due to firearm laws, may offer armed Executive Protection solutions via strategic partnerships or off duty law enforcement in countries which do allow legal access to firearms. In circumstances where armed EP is not an option due to certain countries firearm restrictions, there are unarmed EP services and options available. Professional unarmed Executive Protection Operatives (EPO’s) that utilise quality risk assessment and management techniques and methods are still an excellent solution to keep your staff safe.

Executive Protection Overview (very brief!)

Considerable training and education is spent in producing a professional Executive Protection Operative. One of the major differences between a security guard and an EPO is that EPOs approach threats proactively and use strategic planning and analysis to keep their clients safe. There is a lot of advanced work and preparation involved, as well as in-depth planning. Advanced preparation analyses all aspects of a journey, identifies any possible risks to manage/ mitigate, and implements procedures to address them.

Armed Executive Protection Australia , Asia and Beyond – Discussion points

Executive Protection Australia

Armed EP, while necessary in certain high-risk situations, and certain countries, is not necessarily always required, and is, in many places, impossible.

Almost all countries have laws against private individuals carrying weapons. For example, Australia, UK, China and Japan, have very restrictive laws against carrying a concealed weapon. Within Executive Protection Australia it is not currently legal to conduct armed CPP/EP. Current legislation Weapons Regulation 2016 (section 64) allows for the protection of assets and cash in transit (or at least the self defence of the security officer), however; does not allow for the protection of a principal. This is matter a which is continually addressed by professionals within the Australian security industry, but to date limited progress has been made to rectify it. Many states in the USA prohibit concealed weapons unless you are a former U.S. law enforcement agent, or you apply for a licence and complete regular refresher training. Further, each country has import, purchasing, and licencing restrictions.

Engaging armed security personnel may have the unwanted result of incurring individual or vicarious liability (and can you cause reputational problems depending on the circumstances.) Individuals and companies can be sued civilly, (either directly or vicariously) for any injuries or deaths resulting from hired armed services, depending again on what occurred and why. Different laws and regulations in different countries define justifiable shootings in self-defense in different ways. If called to testify in a court, one will need to provide evidence to support a claim that all appropriate and necessary steps were taken prior to resulting in deadly force. Understanding the rules of force and the legal obligations of each hired operative carrying a firearm is required.

There are of course those individuals and companies which operate within (or just outside of) the security sector who are either unprofessional, ill informed, ignorant or misunderstand their legal obligation when carrying a firearm. A recent example of this includes a former unlicensed Victorian security officer walking armed in public without reason or appropriate permits.  Certainly this is not to suggest that all companies who are able to offer armed Executive Protection operate this way, however, it places an obligation upon the client or VIP’s team to conduct the relevant due diligence prior to engaging these services. Within Executive Protection Australia and worldwide, professional companies attempt to provide transparancy around this so that clients can be confident of the service they receive.

There are additional considerations that add to the complexity when working with firearms. Obviously, initial firearms training must be conducted, licencing and registration must be current and ongoing training maintained. A general expectation from the client would be that realistic and relevant training be conducted, however; this may not always be the case with each and every EP/CPP service provider or company.

Access to some venues and buildings may pose problematic for armed EPO’s. Many countries including those throughout Southeast Asia prohibit firearms into venues such as airports, government offices and certain private buildings. Many of these locations use metal detectors. Although not impossible to gain access with the right planning and administration, the logistics involved in addressing these problems unnecessarily complicate a protective operation and it can create a vulnerability for the principal if access is denied and the armed agent/operative not permitted to accompany the VIP to certain locations.

Finding the right balance between armed and unarmed Executive Protection and Close Protection operations is crucial for professional teams. In countries which permit the carriage of firearms, some teams and security companies rely heavily on armed executive protection tactics even when outside of their usual area of operations.  This can prove dangerous for the Principal and other security team members, as a reliance on a system which is not available to them reduces the overall effectiveness of the team and indicates a lack of appropriate planning. A professional team will ensure there is a good balance within their training syllabus to meet this.

Unarmed Executive Protection Australia, Asia and Beyond: The flip side

In an interview with Mike Seeklander, James Hamilton (Vice President of Protection Strategies,  Gavin De Becker & Associates), talks about using your ‘brain’ as a weapon and not the firearm when referencing unarmed CPP and protection operations. Hamilton briefly talks about how there is a need to understand how to defend yourself and that of the principal in countries outside of the USA where armed CPP/EP is not always possible.

Competency with a firearm is important but Executive Protection is more than marksmanship, and this is a small element of what makes an EP Operative. Many EP specialists operate competently without firearms. These specialists perform the vital job functions of keeping their clients safe using innovative safety and security measures.

Executive Protection Australia and beyond encompass many elements which don’t necessarily require a weapon including:

1. Planning;
2. Advances including route selection, venue surveys and hospital assessments;
3. Driving; &
4. Pedestrian Drills.

Greater emphasis on pro-active protection of the principal in the planning and advance phase assists in mitigating the lack of a firearm. Unarmed Operatives can provide excellent protection through planning, local liaison, provision of logistics (i.e. appropriate vehicles), strong communication skills and competent drills including immediate actions and reactions to attack. All security professionals, armed and unarmed, have training in verbal de-escalation techniques and in some cases less-lethal weapon use, which may assist in providing an effective deterrent to any would be attacker.

The use of individual combatives is one technique to enhance an unarmed executive protection operative and team. Combative systems such as TTP, ISR Matrix, Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other similar fighting systems are all examples of systems which EP operatives may choose to train in. Tactical Personal Protection (TTP) is a krav maga and kali-based self-defence system. TTP is a contemporary fighting system intended to help the average person respond to direct, dangerous threats and attacks.

The ISR matrix system, used by security professionals allows executive protection specialists to use force continuums and mission-specific operational modes to respond to threats effectively without weapons.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu cites statistics showing that 90% of all unarmed fights end up on the ground, an area which, as a martial art it specialises in. Although this statistic is disputed by some, it’s not an ideal situation at any stage ending up in a ground scuffle with an attacker. All Executive Protection Operatives would do well to know how to fight their way back to their feet.

An option for countries which don’t allow armed EP is the use of Kubotan. A Kubotan is a device typically made of hardened plastic or timber, usually no more than 14 cm in length and approximately 1 cm in diameter, which can be carried on a keychain. Training with the device is required, but it is a good option for those who wish to have an alternative to traditional unarmed combatives.

Wherever the risk dictates and the ability to operate with armed Executive Protection is available, this should always be considered in the first instance, however; where this option is not available it is comforting to know that there are professional Security & Risk Management Firms, such as Panoptic Solutions (contact here), which offer highly trained unarmed Executive Protection Australia services.  In many situations, they are just as effective as armed executive protection, particularly in areas that don’t allow these specialists to carry a firearm.  If they are well-trained, they are an excellent option for protection services.

Whether you need Executive Protection Australia, in Asia or further abroad or to discuss your security needs with one of our Executive Protection specialists call +61 1300 651 407 or click this LINK to fill out a contact form. One of our security agents specialising in Executive Protection Australia, Asia or beyond will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

Indonesia Security – Business Travel Security and Safety

Indonesia Security and Safety: Ranked as the 4th most populous country in the world, with a population of over 265 million, Indonesia is famous as a holiday destination but is becoming an increasingly important destination for business travellers. The country is a big player in the mining and energy sectors but is also growing attention internationally for its diverse manufacturing and agricultural sectors and its status as a banking and finance hub.

As with many nations in Southeast Asia, it has a few characteristics that business travellers would be well advised to know before heading over there. Having had considerable experience in the country and now with a branch office in Jakarta, Panoptic Solutions Indonesia security consultants are very well familiar with teh country and its cultures.

Indonesia Security Considerations – The Risks

Indonesia hosts more than 10 million international visitors a year and most travellers manage to leave without incident so don’t let the summary of risks below put you off from travelling there. There may seem to be a lot of risks but if you are suitably prepared and take the right precautions your trip should be without incident also.

Having said that, when there is high risk, take heed of any travel warnings issued by your consulate or department of foreign affairs. These are not issued lightly and should be taken seriously.

Refer to our Business Travel Safety & Security Checklist at the bottom of this post for more generic tips on personal security while travelling.


With the exception of terrorism (see below) most crimes against tourists in Indonesia are crimes of opportunity. Criminals look for soft or easy targets, so if you’re alone or are intoxicated you increase your risk of being targeted.

Dodgy Drinks

Regrettably, one of the scams that happens from time to time in Indonesia is motivated by greed but can have fatal consequences. Some bars, in order to reduce costs, mix ethanol and/or methanol into alcoholic drinks to maintain the alcohol content but at a lower cost. Methanol in particular is poisonous and, in some cases, can lead to vision impairment and even death when ingested.

Key steps to take to avoid this are to:

1) Drink in reputable bars and hotels. If you don’t trust your own judgment on this, ask the concierge at your hotel or other business people you are interacting with for recommendations.

2) Only order drinks you are familiar with so you know what they ‘should’ taste like. If something tastes ‘off’ it quite possibly is so you are best to cease drinking (and pour the drink out so no-one else is harmed).

Terrorism Risk

Indonesia’s population is a predominantly Muslim (87%), most of them and law abiding but, unfortunately, it’s the extremist element of the Muslim population that has got the lion’s share of publicity in recent years. Many of these have travelled overseas where they have been radicalised and/or earned battle experience in the Middle East or The Philippines. They often return very committed to their cause and with the skills and resources to back it up. This element is what increases the Indonesia security risk rating with many analysts.

Many terrorist incidents in Indonesia pre-date the 911 attacks in New York in 2001, but it is mainly the attacks since that time that have brought focus on Indonesia as a terrorism hotspot. This commenced with the Bali bombings in 2002 and with occasional hotel and other bombings since then. Indonesia security forces and local authorities have responded well to these situations and counter-terrorism initiatives have since put them in a better position to prevent such events.

Indonesia security experts still warn travellers to be wary of their surrounds. There is still a higher risk for the business traveller than there might be in other Southeast Asian nations though so it’s best to take heed of any travel warnings issued by your local consulate. Indonesia security travel warnings will be outlined on most government travel advisories.

Natural Disasters

Sitting on a volcanic hotspot knowns as ‘the ring of fire’, Indonesia has a higher risk than most places of volcanic eruptions. Most volcanic eruptions are not life threatening as they usually come  with sufficient warning. They can wreak havoc on travel plans though so ensure you travel with plenty of extra medication in case you should find yourself stranded longer than you planned to be in the country.

Earthquakes, tsunamis and mudslides are also more frequent in Indonesia than most countries so take heed of warning systems, sirens and such like should they go off. Most coastal areas include signage showing which direction to go in the event of a tsunami warning so become familiar with these before you need them

Travelling Around

No matter how much experience you may have driving in developing nations, we recommend that visiting business travellers always engage a qualified security driver where possible. Avoid hiring or riding on a scooter at all costs. Though it may look like fun it’s a high risk activity that could have serious consequences if you are in an accident.

If a security driver isn’t an option, use a metered taxi rather than a ride share service. We’ve used and recommend Bluebird taxis over any of the others. If the driver doesn’t put the meter on at the beginning of the trip ask them to do so. If they refuse for whatever reason, agree a price for the trip up front rather than waiting until the end.

Being an archipelago nation, there’s also a good chance you may find yourself on a boat at some point. There are areas of Indonesia where piracy occurs, up through the Malacca Straits, for instance so if you’re cruising around, that’s something you need to be aware of.

Health Care

Don’t expect to find emergency health care of the same standard as you might find at home. There are few reputable hospitals but, in the event of an accident, you could find yourself at one that doesn’t deliver the care that you need. Where possible choose one of the private hospitals.

Siloam or International SOS hospitals are in many cities and the BIMC Hospital in Bali is well suited for travellers. Some of these also have their own ambulance services so where you have a choice, go with one of these.

Take a first aid kit with you when travelling to Indonesia (Listen to this episode of the Wheels Up podcast for details of what to include). Include an antiseptic spray in your kit as the tropical conditions can cause even the smallest of cuts to become badly infected.

Hepatitis A, B, and C are pretty prevalent throughout the region as are dengue fever and malaria so ensure you have have the correct vaccinations and anti-malaria medication before departing. See a doctor specialising in travel medicine as they will be up to speed on the latest shots required for the area. Don’t leave the vaccinations for the last minute as some take time for the benefits to kick in.

Jakarta and some other cities in Indonesia have very high air pollution levels so if you are asthmatic or have respiratory illnesses, ensure you travel with plenty of medication and use it as needed. Volcanic ash can also be a trigger for respiratory conditions so be on high alert when there is volcanic activity, even if it is some distance away.

Cultural Considerations

As a predominantly Muslim nation, Indonesian people are quite conservative. Even if you are a frequent traveller to Bali, don’t expect the same holiday atmosphere or dress code in other parts of the country. Women in particular are well advised to be modest with their clothing.

Haggling Etiquette

Haggling is part of the culture of most Southeast Asian nations and Indonesia is no exception. While a merchant will usually haggle quite happily, and even expects you to haggle, they do not appreciate it if you are haggling just for sport and have no intention of buying.

And even if you do engage in haggling, keep in mind that a dollar means much more to them and their families than it does to you.

Suit Scams

One scam that is prevalent, although not so much pertaining to Indonesia security threats (and many other Southeast Asian destinations) is where you order a tailored suit in a particular fabric but it is made and delivered using a lower quality cloth, or somehow the price has increased from when you first ordered it.

There is little actual harm as such but the simple rule here is to pay close attention to what you are ordering and agreeing to. You could go as far as taking a photo of the cloth offered when you order the suit and comparing it with what’s delivered.

Be Prepared

The advice above is suitable for most travellers but if your business is frequently sending staff to Indonesia, you’d be well advised to have a full risk assessment done for the areas your staff would be travelling to. This would include accommodation, travel and health care recommendations as well as any briefing material to help staff be prepared.

Panoptic Solutions has an office in Jakarta so we are well equipped to provide an assessment should you need one. If you want to know more about Indonesia security risk, contact us at 1300 651 407 or via email for more details.

Refer also to our Business Travel Safety & Security Checklist below by entering your details for more generic tips on personal security while travelling.

* indicates required

12 000 to 15 000 People Held Captive Every Year…

Are you aware that up to 2,000 people around the world are currently being held against their will in one form or another? Or that somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 people a year are kidnapped for ransom or held hostage? The fact is, risk is ever present whoever and wherever you are, and being prepared to deal with a situation like detainment, kidnapping or surviving captivity can never be a bad thing. Luckily, there are organisations that provide training for these eventualities and today we chat with a course instructor from the adverse environments team at Panoptic Solutions about the kinds of strategies he recommends. You can read below for a written summary or listen to the discussion on the Wheels Up Podcast here.

Everyone is at risk of captivity

We’ve discussed the risks faced by journalists travelling overseas in previous podcasts and posts and clearly the wealthy are often targets too. But all kinds of people are taken hostage for all kinds of reasons. Charity workers in the Philippines have been kidnapped for example, as have other innocents who, it’s assumed by their captors, will be recovered by their governments. Tragically, as we saw with Canadian national Robert Hall in 2016, governments don’t always come to their aid.

Also consider the growing number of incidents where everyday citizens get embroiled in perilous situations, like the siege in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe in 2014. If they were asked before that day, ‘Do you think you’ll ever be involved in a hostage situation?’, not one would have said yes. The news is full of stories of robberies gone wrong and home invasions involving everyday folk being held against their will. That’s why these safety skills and strategies are applicable to everyone.

Training courses that help

Panoptic Solutions’ training courses teach all kinds of people how to recognise the risks and realities of hostage situations. Instructors come from elite military, paramedical and specialist law enforcement backgrounds but the training is not physical – it’s about creating awareness as course instructor John (not his real name) explains:

‘Let me first say, the course is definitely not military-style training. The information is presented in a lecture style set-up and participants need not worry they’re going to walk in the door and find themselves tied up in the corner being yelled at.’

John discusses the differences between being illegally kidnapped for ransom or held hostage (where you’re a captive) versus being pulled over by the police for speeding and legally taken to the station (where you’re a detainee). If you’re overseas and you break the law, wittingly or unwittingly, you may face a period of confinement and that’s a situation you can be prepared for. Importantly, John’s course includes strategies that help participants avoid those situations in the first place.

‘We provide context, contemporary examples and explanations of what went right and wrong, working to increase people’s understanding of the world situation and domestically. Prevention is better than cure and our purpose is to help participants avoid trouble in the first place, particularly when travelling overseas. If we can deliver that, we’ve done our job.’

During training sessions, participants get to interact, ask questions and bring their own experiences to the table.

‘People are genuinely surprised at the odds when we lay them out. Though we try not to bombard people with statistics, we do give them enough to get their headspace right and to look at the world a little bit differently without them becoming paranoid. We don’t want people walking around questioning every strange thing that happens! The most common feedback statement we get is, “Wow. I’m surprised – I hadn’t realised that.”’

Developing situational awareness

One key strategy the course emphasises is developing situational awareness. We recently spoke to Dr. Gav Schneider about this important skill because most of us really aren’t situationally aware. For example, if you were asked to remember the make, model and colour of the last car you parked next to, chances are, you’d draw a blank. Or if you had to give a physical description of the person who served your morning coffee, unless you were a regular, you’d have no idea. Taking in that kind of detail, particularly when travelling, will give you a far better chance of avoiding trouble.

John also stresses the importance of ‘decreasing your footprint’ which means lowering your profile, blending into your environment, trying not to stand out. His advice is not to carry a bright bag or wear a multi-coloured shirt and shorts like a typical tourist. He suggests thinking carefully about wearing jewellery or even a modestly priced watch. In some countries, they could be seen as flaunting your wealth and make you a target.

Preparation is key

This kind of thinking applies to everyone, but particularly if you’re working with a client as part of an executive protection (EP) unit, doing prior preparation is essential. Conduct a risk assessment and see if the client is at risk of kidnap and if so, how you’re going to mitigate this. It might include creating alternate routes or increasing the numbers within the EP team. In high risk cases, you might even organise a counter-attack team or law enforcement as an add-on.

‘If we get into a volatile situation in a hostile region, we look for combat indicators which might include a decrease in activity. This is where a busy area suddenly has nothing going on, or people start to avoid eye contact. If you’re escorting a journalist, for instance, somewhere like Syria or Iraq and driving into a town you see the shutters going down, you’d start thinking something’s up. The spidey sense is tingling, and you get that gut feeling that something’s not right. It doesn’t just happen in the movies. It happens in real life.’

In the event of capture

In the unfortunate event that someone is captured, depending on who captures them and if they’re considered a valuable commodity, they may be taken care of. Of course, the extent of this could range from being kept in very good conditions to those that are just enough to keep them alive. If someone captures you not for ransom so much as propaganda or they’re simply deranged, then it can be very different, and that’s where you must make an assessment of what you’re up against. This is usually based on technical information.

‘During training, we talk about rescue and recovery of hostages. One of our instructors spent many years in a counter-terrorism unit and has a vast amount of experience and knowledge in hostage recovery. He discusses this at length.

His presentation covers, in comprehensive detail, what you can expect if a rescue or recovery goes through. For example, there is always, potentially, something going on behind the scenes you don’t know about, so don’t give up. We impress upon people the importance of maintaining a positive mental attitude throughout all phases. You need to be mentally positive to maintain your morale.’

‘People who‘ve spent some time in confinement have very little situational awareness. The next thing they know, there’s shouting, gunfire and things can get confused. In that part of the presentation the information is kept very clear. Participants are told exactly what they must and must not do so as not to jeopardise the rescue. No one’s ever prepared to be kidnapped, detained or taken as a hostage but knowing what may occur – the noises you may hear, the commands you may be given, the actions you might need to take – will help you be prepared as you can be.’

John concludes,

‘The bottom line is, do your research. Everything we present on the course is information that’s already out there, and there’s a strong smattering of common sense. But there’s a large degree of complacency and it’s amazing the number of people who travel overseas and don’t consult anything – not even Lonely Planet or resources like DFAT’s smart travel website. We make sure we equip our course participants with information that can save their life.’

Interested in having the adverse environments training team deliver a program at your workplace?

– Our Adverse Environments training could save lives in your business.

– Run by former special forces and specialist military personnel

– Awareness training for anyone who travels or work within the media field, etc

– Workplace health and safety consideration for those working in the field

– Real world experience and training which may keep you safe

– Real life situations and cases

– Non physical

– Done at your workplace or at a venue close by

– 2-3 hours in duration


Contact us at