Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT)

We live in a time when violent attacks on aid workers and humanitarian organisation are commonplace. It is important that humanitarian organisations take proactive steps to ensure that their personnel deployer in the field are adequately trained to work in high risk and dangerous environments.

HEAT is a 4-day residential course designed from humanitarian workers for humanitarian workers whose work takes them to difficult remote or hostile areas. In areas of poor governing, conflict, natural disasters, and war, doing the job can be risky business. Violent assault, theft, ambushes or abductions are very real dangers. Very often the medical facilities are few and far from reach.

Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a Diploma of completion issued by SAHCO and La Cooperativa Humanitaria as well as the TECC certificate (submitted to a specific test).

3 to 5 days
Presential; residential
English, Spanish and french


HEAT participants learn primarily to recognize, analyse and avoid risks; if the worst happens, they are taught to react in a way that maximizes their probability of surviving. With this aim, participants will:

  • Get familiar with the basic security management concepts and framework
  • Gain situational awareness, increase ability to see patterns and be capable of proactively identify threats
  • Identify personal and organizational vulnerabilities and learn how these link to local threats and potential risks
  • Enhance self-consciousness, becoming able to catalyze the best response to a situation or event.
  • Practice pragmatic strategies to react in front of particular threats.
  • Identify and implement actions that allow to minimize the consquences of incidents to the persons and to the organization


The training is based on the fundamental principles of inclusive, integrated safety and security leading participants to understand their individual role by ensuring their own safety and that of the entire team. For that, the content of the training is structure as follows:

1. Inclusive risk management

Inclusive and integrated security allows programs and operations to work as efficiently and safely as possible; mainly:

  • Key Principles of the Safety Management Framework: Contextual Analysis and Mapping of Actors.
  • The role of different security strategies, including Acceptance, Protection, and Deterrence

2. Personal preparedness

  • Analysis, anticipation, and mitigation of security and safety risks.
  • Stress management and development of psychological resilience
  • The image and perception of third parties
  • Basics of access negotiation
  • Conflict management, aggression, and hostility
  • Ammunition, weapons, and explosives on the ground
  • Management of ambushes, dams, mines and other threats while traveling
  • How to use convoys and avoidance tactics in the event of a critical incident
  • Critical Incident Management Preparation
  • Effective communication during a critical incident

3. First aid in an isolated environment

Confidence in first aid delivery with the necessary material or with the means of the edge, the realization of a primary and secondary vital assessment, stabilization of bleeding, fractures, severe burns and other injuries can help reduce the mortality rate and serious injuries in any context.

  • Intro DR(C) ABC (BLS optional)
  • Bleeding Control
  • Unconscious Casualties, Fractures & Burns
  • Road Traffic Collisions & First Aid Response
  • Non-Trauma Medical Emergencies
  • Mass casualty management

4. Mitigation on the risk of abduction, survival and response

The staff will know exactly what to do if the abduction is an immediate threat – and what to do in case the abduction actually happens:

  • Indicators to anticipate kidnapping and abduction and mitigate the risks
  • How to survive capture and live in captivity


The course is designed to be informative and enjoyable, combining 70% of practical challenges with 30% of relevant theory driven through collaborative learning. Course methods are based on role play, realistic simulations and a continuous scenario that will keep participants immersed in the target situation for four days.

Participants will become members of a team that will assess a crisis in a foreign country. The scenario starts upon arrival at the course location and ends after four days. Theory and hands-on learning are combined with updated scenarios that require team decision-making and action. Participants will travel to many places and face ethical dilemmas, hostile situations and constant pressures due to insecurity.

Previous experiences

The training is delivered by expert senior trainers whom are practitioners with extensive field experience, giving participants the confidence and skills to operate outside of their normal comfort zones. This Spanish edition is implemented in collaboration between SAHCO and La Cooperativa Humanitaria; both entities accumulate a large experience in the humanitarian sector and delivering training.