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Emergency Preparation – Perceived and Applied Calm

13 August

Emergency Preparation – Perceived and Applied Calm


It is inevitable that we will all be exposed to critical or emergency situations in our lifetime.  Whether in our work environment or personal lives, being prepared enables you to feel calm, appear calm to others, think more clearly and in turn, be a facilitator to mitigate risk and support resolution.

Human beings and animals exposed to unknown and frightening situations react in 1 of 3 ways; fight or flight, blind panic or do nothing at all.  Our goal in being prepared should always be to constructively and quickly assess a situation as it occurs or prior to it occurring then react with the fight or flight (some form of helpful action to reduce risk or remove yourself and others from the situation).

If you have done any form of emergency preparation, some semblance of ‘What should I do if…’ self or group discussion at a minimum, your brain which is similar to a computer storage system will search for ‘like’ circumstances in your ‘What should I do if,’ file and react accordingly.  This semi-robotic preparation empowers your body to maintain an almost eerie sense of calm.  This sense of calm can be learned at any age.

I was reminded of this year’s ago when one of my campers at Law Enforcement Youth Camp consistently demonstrated a sense of calm when confronted by situations and places that were totally foreign to her.  These settings were often hectic and at times filled with some level of risk.  She came from a home of violence, disruption and disorder and was only 8 years old.  We will call her Marie (not her real name). An example of this is when Marie walked up a trail, entered a field where 8-12 year old boys and girls were being armed with bows and arrows to learn archery for the first time after just eating a breakfast of pancakes and yummy sweet stuff on top.  All were screeching with excitement in being handed these pointy tools of potential destruction.  When Marie got to the group, it seemed only a couple of minutes before her slow stroll, silent engagement and calm turned her peers into a semi-orderly archery novice group.

This was one example of many of Marie’s positive impact based on her presence and demonstrated behavior and approach to situations.  At the age of 8, she had been exposed to turmoil, risk and dangerous situations whereby she knew and understood how to stay safe, remain calm and in turn, contagiously share that calm and presence with others in hairy situations.

Before camp was over, I had the opportunity to ask Marie, “When people are screaming and acting crazy all around you, how do you know how to stay so calm?”  This lovely little 8 year old said 5 words in response to my question that have stuck in my head and surfaced during times of risk and mayhem, she said, “Just roll with it baby.”

I believe Marie’s approach; amazingly calm next step behavior in harried situations has been born out of 8 years of practice, experience and ‘What should I do if,’ fight or flight response. In order to enable ourselves and others to react to critical situations and prepare for emergencies, we must encourage our business leadership, our co-workers and ourselves to practice the, ‘What should I do if.’ Just 2 hours annually of scenario based training or a simple elevator, lunch or sidewalk conversation can better prepare you, your business and your family for that major earthquake or natural disaster, explosion, or active shooter. KO Security Triage can provide you and your company, organization or business with customized scenario based emergency preparedness training as well as critical incident planning.