When Emergency Strikes

Mar 22, 2013 by

by April Wright

The variations of calamity are so numerous that remembering what to do in any one situation can’t cover all the possibilities. But there can be a general underlying basis.

When emergency strikes, it’s hard to think of what to do. Some of us go mentally blank, some freeze in motion, some become hysterical. We may faint, or run. But we can’t hide.

What does help is having some simple thing to do. It eases the situation for everyone. Any action can be as calming for the one carrying it out as it may be for the recipients.  (Roll call, holding a hand, band-aids, water, etc, even if you are alone with adversity.)

This replaces aimless panic with focused action. It feels as if something is being done, which brings a sense of control in the midst of chaos, rather than wringing hands, falling apart, or becoming another casualty. Others seeing it will follow the example. Or again, if you are alone, a simple action will encourage your confidence.

The best thing in a crisis is to be prepared for the unexpected. We can re-play regularly, so that taking ourselves from initial shock into steps of action will become automatic.  Let your mantra change from “Oh no,” to (“find a flashlight”). Then it can move on to “Ok, now!.. ” and finally, “what’s next?” as clearer thinking returns and abilities expand.

Be ready to improvise in these crisis variations. What is the first thing to do for easing  this particular situation? General necessities prevail, according to location, time, weather and circumstance. (Are you in a city elevator at morning rush, a foreign jungle at noon, or icy seas at night?) Just think about different scenarios in your daily living. What if there were no lights, & you must locate the only key? If someone needed warmth or liquid or a band-aid, how would you manage with none available? What route is out? What if this door opens suddenly, or that tire blows, or a person becomes reckless/aggressive/disabled.  This can be a fun game of brain exercise while stuck in traffic or walking down a hall. (Rather than a conjuring of negativity, it is training for surviving difficult events.)

Of course, trained personnel are best qualified to do proper delegating of any duties. But if no such ones are on site yet, and you have reached presence of mind, (having found a flashlight!) you might delegate to others what may simply help, with those small but important tasks which are easily accomplished in the uproar. Or do the same for yourself.

Crises are not Ifs, they are Whens, and always come by surprise, in all dimensions and magnitudes. It’s impossible to be prepared for everything, but simply being practiced with a routine of safety and assessment is beneficial when needed on any scale.

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