The 10 gadgets every EP agent wants for Christmas

December 22, 2015 - By Tommy Christensen & Sean Paul Schuhriemen

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It’s that time of the year again: Gadget time!

Here’s a list of ten things we’ve really enjoyed having in our kit bags this year. Most of them are highly useful for corporate executive protection teams. A few of them are just plain fun. They’re all pretty cool!

 1. PIA mobile VPN app

What it is:

Your very own VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel that makes your internet activities basically private whether you’re on a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone.

Why you need it:

If you use the internet at home and on the go – and who doesn’t – your privacy, files and identity are at risk. The bad guys are out there, ready and lurking. They’ve got plenty of out-of-the-box tools that let them eavesdrop via public Wi-Fi and shared routers.

Folks who travel to countries with less-than-open web policies will also appreciate having access to all their favorite sites, all the time.

Why we like it:

This excellent little VPN works anywhere and with any device to effectively shield your internet activities from prying eyes and sticky fingers.

It’s effective, simple to use and relatively cheap – just 60 bucks for two years and up to five devices. It works through gateways in 24 different countries. And its suite of features provides all the security most people need:

  • IP Cloaking: Hides your actual IP, and replaces it with an anonymous one based in the US. A great way to bypass censors, firewalls and other barriers.
  • Encryption: No more eavesdropping in public places.
  • Firewall: Blocks unauthorized connections to your devices.
  • Anonymous browsing: Leave no trace, don’t get data-mined.

2. Silent Phone Mobile Encryption app

What it is:

An encryption service for any iOS or Android phone that works for voice and file transfers.

Why you need it:

Whether you realize it or not, your unencrypted phone shares all kinds of data on your whereabouts, browsing habits, shopping lists and who knows what else. Some of this helps companies to help you – with things like alternative routes if there is a traffic jam on your route. A lot of it gets sold – why do you think all those convenient apps are “free”?

But criminals, competitors and others out to make a buck in a less than honest way can also gain access to your calls and data without really trying all that hard – especially from public places.

Why we like it:

Silent Phone encrypts voice and data to make smartphones safer and more private, so organizations can improve their security.

The company has two subscription plans, but only the “Plus” plan gives you unlimited secure voice and text messages with other Silent Phone members – as well as conference calls, hefty file transfers and “burn function” that can delete messages on both ends.

3. FLIR FX Cameras

What it is:

A system of HD cameras, apps and software for keeping an eye on homes, businesses and remote locations.

Why you need it:

Video surveillance is an important part of static security, which often plays a key role in EP and event security. These things are so easy to set up that they’re great for ad hoc locations, too.

Why we like it:

There are a ton of good camera and software suites out there, and Flir FX can easily hold its own with the best of them. They have all the features and specs that most teams will ever need, and their prices are definitely reasonable.

We like that FLIR FX cameras are infrared, and deliver excellent low-light results.

RapidRecapBut what really sets this system apart is RapidRecap, a technology that encapsulates hours or even days of footage into one short view: all the activity captured by the camera, with time-stamps for every event. It’s got a Minority Report feel to it that’s just plain cool – and it gives you an amazing overview of what’s important very, very quickly.

(Photo: Screenshot from product’s website.)

4. R.A.T.S. Tourniquet

What it is:

A tourniquet that combines a solid vulcanized rubber core with a nylon sheath with a unique locking mechanism.

Why you need it:

Tourniquets save lives: Throughout history, this simple tool has probably prevented more people from dying than anything else that anyone carries in a first aid kit.

Rats tourniquetWhy we like it:

The R.A.T.S. tourniquet is super small and light, and it’s incredibly simple and fast to apply. To others, of course, but also to yourself – thanks to an ingenious locking mechanism that requires only one hand to stem the flow of traumatic bleeding.

(Photo: Screenshot from product’s website.)


5. Philips HeartStart FR3

What it is:

A professional-grade automatic external defibrillator (AED): monitors and diagnoses cardiac arrhythmias, then treats them with a dose of electrical current.

Why you need it:

AEDs save lives: Together with CPR, the AED is a critical tool to save lives due to cardiac arrest.

All EP agents with first-responder level first aid training should be proficient at using the AED, and the AED should be part of the mobile first aid kit.

Why we like it:

The HeartStart FR3 is the smallest and lightest of any pro-grade AED on the market, and earns top marks for portability:

  • 2.7″ high x 5.3″ wide x 8.7″ deep (6.9 cm x 13.5 cm x 22.1 cm)
  • 3 lbs. 8 oz. (1.6 kg) with battery installed

Of course, it also has all the features you would expect from a good AED:

  • Powers on automatically when you open the case
  • Excellent patient-specific guidance for CPR/AED
  • Good visual display

And it’s FDA approved, so we use it in the US and other countries.

6. LIMEFUEL multi-charge stations – (Rugged L150XR & L200X Pro)

What it is:

An external battery that gives you extra juice when your smartphone, tablet or almost any other USB-powered mobile device needs it off the grid.

Why you need it:

Just like everyone else, EP agents are using portable devices more and more. And while we require that agents have training that enables them to do their jobs without digital devices, our screens help us to increase efficiency in all kinds of ways. Not least with our own dedicated apps, ODIN for traveler tracking and ADVANCE for advance planning.

Why we like them:

Limefuel’s Rugged L150XR and L200X Pro batteries are well built with a sturdy feel.

They’re certified at IP 66 and will stand up to practically anything you throw at them – including water. Don’t submerse them, but do expect them to get plenty wet, shook up and dirty and still work.

They’re not the smallest or lightest on the market (size: 5.5″ high x 3.3″ wide / 14.1 cm x 8.3 cm; weight: 13 oz. / 375 g). And they can take 9-15 hours to fully charge. In return, however, the 150 gives you an amazing backup of 99 hours of internet or 129 hours of talk.

They have auto-on and auto-off, as well as passthrough charging, so you can charge them and your devices all at once; once the battery is loaded up, your devices get all the electricity.

7. 5aver Emergency Breath System

What it is:

An evacuation mask that filters smoke, carbon monoxide and other chemical substances from the air, giving you 3-4 minutes of extra escape time in case of fire.

Why you need it:

Fire is an ever-present risk at home and on the road, not least in “emerging markets” whose fire safety standards sometimes also are emerging works in progress.

In case of fire, minutes matters. Smoke inhalation accounts for the vast majority of fire deaths, and survival rates plummet with every minute in smoke. While it may not sound like much, 3-4 extra minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Why we like it:

All of the 5aver fire evacuation masks are nicely designed – and have even won the Red Dot Award. They pop open in seconds to fit over the mouths of adults and children. Adults should use the accompanying nose clip; children should hold their noses with one hand, and the filter with the other.

The portable, 1-person unit is smaller than a Coke can, so it’s easy to bring along on trips. And we do.

8. DJI Phantom 3 Professional

What it is:

A professional-class drone that’s easy to fly and full of features.

Why you need it:

In case you’ve been in hibernation for the last few years, you might want to check the word “drone” on Google Trend. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are popping up in more places for more purposes month by month. Where they used to be a curiosity for executive protection, they are increasingly becoming both a useful tool for all kinds of tasks, from surveillance to event security. They are also turning into an intrusive bother that EP teams must learn to defend against.

We have written previously on drones and EP –have a look at those blogs, too:

Drones and corporate security: The future is now

Drones and corporate security, part 2

Why we like it:

The Phantom 3 Professional by DJI is good enough for professional use, and cheap enough to be accessible for most EP teams.

Thanks to intuitive controls and a great user interface, its easy to learn how to fly. Most folks will be able to teach themselves in less than half an hour.

It also has a very capable camera that stabilizes well.

9. RE Factor Tactical Wilderness Survival Card

What it is:

A wallet-sized wilderness survival toolbox that contains stainless steel needles, an awl, snare locks, tweezers, a saw, an arrowhead and even a trident. Just add a little ingenuity and you’re on your way to the good life, or at least a life, should you get seriously stuck in the wild.

Why you need it:

You’ve heard about the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes back in the 1970s.  You know what they ate. You were impressed by last summer’s amazing story about a 16-year old girl who hiked out of the wilderness after her grandparents’ plane went down in the rugged North Cascades.

You’re the kind of guy who likes to be prepared.

Wilderness survival

Why we like it:

The Tactical Wilderness Survival Card is so tiny and so light that you can put it in your wallet and forget about it.

In the admittedly unlikely event that you ever need it, you can use it for anything from stitching up wounds to catching fish and small game.

In the meantime, you get to bask in the knowledge that you’ve enhanced your probability of surviving an unexpected trip to the woods.

(Photo: Screenshot from product’s website.)

 10. Axis AERIUS Drone

What it is:

A quad-copter drone that measures just 3 x 3 x 2 cm. That’s tiny!

Why you need it:

Let’s face it: Nobody really needs a drone the size of a quarter.

But then again all mammals like to play, and there’s a reason for that – play is a great way to learn new skills.

With the tiny Aerius, you can playfully sharpen your drone-flying proficiencies in the comfort of your own living room. You can drive your pets crazy. And you can tell your significant other that you’re keeping up your training as part of the job.

Why we like it:

This little baby is pretty much ready to fly right out of the box. The compact controller doubles as a storage case, so you can bring it along wherever your training needs take you. And it costs only $35.

After a 15-minute charge, the Aerius can buzz around for 5-7 minutes, which is plenty of time to test the limits of its 6-axis gyro-stabilization and pre-programmed flips and rolls.

And oh, yeah – it’s fun!


Tommy Christensen

Vice President of Field Operations

Tommy is a seasoned, multi-lingual EP specialist with extensive global experience creating client support programs and providing executive protection, threat and risk assessment, covert/counter and protective surveillance and logistics management to Fortune 100 corporations, philanthropic organizations and individuals. Since he began his EP career in the 1990s, Tommy has worked in more than 60 countries across Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, South/Central and North America.

An experienced protection operative and strategist, Tommy is intimately familiar with all aspects of EP operations, customer service, vendor management and administration.

Sean Paul Schuhriemen

Deputy Director, Intelligence Operations

Sean Schuhriemen brings 20+ years experience from the U.S. Navy, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the private sector as a security and intelligence consultant.

Sean has worked in project management, technology, and as an emergency medical technician. Sean’s military, Agency, and security-related school/training include: recurrent medical and protection techniques, surveillance detection (planning, development, and execution), paramilitary operations, counter-intelligence, intelligence field tradecraft, asset protection, TSCM sweeps, technical exploitation, logistics planning, communications, due diligence, behavior assessment and elicitation, applied behavioral psychology, site surveys, emergency vehicle operator’s course and an evasive driving course, recurrent weapons qualifications. In addition, Sean is also certified in denial and deception (basic & advanced).

Sean is a reserve police officer with the ability to support armed in all 50 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. He has a psychology from the University of La Verne and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in intelligence from AMU.