WOULD YOU SURVIVE A DISASTER?
You might be surprised to learn that YOU and what you know are very strong predictors of your survival from a disaster. There are a vast number of books and articles on the subject of surviving from disasters. One book that I recommend and often reference in training, is titled "The Unthinkable" by Amanda Ripley. As a result of this book, I also learned of John Leach, a combat survival instructor and psychologist that specializes in the human response to disasters.
If you do a search for John Leach you will find numerous references and here is one particular article that I reference often for insight into the human response to life threatening situations. In the article, you will learn that the human response to danger falls into one of three categories:
• 75% of people are unable to think clearly
• 15% of people remain calm and rational
• 10% are plain dangerous
Additionally, your body fails to adapt to sudden changes and leads to passivity, mental paralysis and often individuals will carry on as if things are normal. The threat of danger will also lead to emotional arousal (increase in adrenalin, etc.), which pulls blood flow from the brain to strengthen our muscles temporarily. Obviously, this will also decrease clear decision making. Often times, leading to making bad decisions that would under normal circumstances seem an odd or dangerous choice.
So, how can we combat this natural human response? We can teach ourselves what our response should be before the incident occurs. We want to instill a robotic response at the sub-conscious level, thus limiting the need to rely upon active brain responses. We can do this through repeated education, drills and practice.
In The Unthinkable, Ms. Ripley highlights the efforts made by Mr. Rick Rescorla to instill an automated response into his co-workers at the New York offices of Morgan Stanley, formally located in the Twin Towers. Mr. Rescorla was a veteran of the Vietnam war and a security specialist that predicted the Twin Towers would be a target for terrorism. In fact, he predicted both the bombing in the parking garage and the threat of an airplane crash into the buildings.
As a result of his background and prediction of the bombing in the parking garage, he gained the needed respect of the leaders at his offices. Albeit, some leaders were known to laugh about the outfits donned by his team of Fire Marshalls and the millionaire bankers and brokers were not fond of the regular drills, as they cost the company money. Yet, he persevered with regularly executed and unannounced drills.
Clients that visited were always escorted by Morgan Stanley staff and were briefed prior to entering the offices on the emergency response plans and shown the stairwells. All personnel were expected to participate and the drills were evaluated for timeliness and effectiveness by Mr. Rescola's team.
As a result of these efforts, the staff and visitors present in Morgan Stanley's offices on September 11, 2001 knew what to do. When the building collapsed there were 13 of the 2,687 that perished in the collapse. Among the 13 was Mr. Rescola, who was known to be last seen on the 10th floor heading back to ensure all made it out safely.
Would your colleagues be as informed and able to evacuate? If you have to hesitate, then likely they are not. When did your organization last host a training session on disaster preparedness? When was your last drill or tabletop exercise on your response plans? Do you have established and test emergency response plans?
With National Preparedness Month, in September, quickly approaching, we are offering a special promotion for an educational seminar, response plan development, tabletop exercise or drill to organizations that would like HT2 to develop, deliver and/or lead a session. For those of you that are residential recipients of these tips, you are welcome to schedule a home safety consultation. You must book your 1-selected service by the end of September to be eligible for the 10% promotional reduction and your offices or residence must be located in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area.
If you can't commit at this time consider reaching out later. Should you need further assistance or want additional resources, please contact us. To learn more about preparedness measures or to schedule a presentation, safety walk, tabletop exercise, home consultation or general consultation with HT2, please Click Here!