The following is a guest post from a close friend. He chooses to remain anonymous on the web, as you may understand from his posts, but his content is on point when it comes to being ready for any emergency situation. This post is the first in what will become a 7 part series.
It takes much more than knowledge and skills to live through an emergency situation. There are cases where people with little or no training have managed to survive life-threatening circumstances, as have some people with training have not used their knowledge and skills and died. The key ingredient in any situation is the mental attitude of the individual involved. Having knowledge and skills is important but having the will to survive is more so. Without the will to survive; acquired knowledge serves little purpose and invaluable skills go to waste.
This multi-part post will attempt to identify and explain the nature of stress, the stresses of emergencies and those internal reactions individuals will naturally experience when faced with the stresses of a real-world emergency. We are in hopes that the knowledge you gain from this post and others will better prepare you to survive through the toughest of times.
Before we can understand our psychological reactions in an emergency setting, it is helpful to understand a little about stress. We all experience stress. Stress can be described as our reaction to pressure. Stress is the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual response to life’s tensions. Stress is not a disease that can be cured or eliminated, but it can be managed and more importantly can be overcome through proper education and training for stressful situations.
Normal feelings in an emergency situation, like recovering from a natural disaster include: shock & disbelief, horror, sadness, fear, helplessness, guilt, and anger. These each contain a stress level which varies in strength according to the makeup of the person affected and the actual emergency situation to which one is thrown.
Think about how you react to these different feelings in other situations. Which ones make you more stressed? Why? How could you react differently toward these stressors?
In a non-stress situation, taking time to reflect on these stressors and your reactions could significantly improve your ability to handle them under emergency circumstances. Put yourself mentally in various situations: hurricane, blizzard, extended power loss, or any other situation where you feel that your stress would be high and the need for calm, cool decision-making is vital. Play out the scenario, making note of your feelings, the stress level associated with those feelings and how you would react.
What do you feel the outcome of that situation would be playing out the scenario with the decisions you are making? Is it as positive outcome, would you be a survivor? Would you truly be able to make those same decisions if you were actually, not just mentally in that situation? Play out the same scenario with different decisions? Is the outcome the same….better….or worse?
Take some quiet time to run different scenario’s with varying decisions, but always make note of your feelings and how you most normally react to those feelings. Doing this a few times a week will be quite effective in helping to increase your confidence in dealing with very high-stress emergency situations.
There is a psychology to living through an emergency. The person that finds himself in an emergency faces many stressors that can affect their mental attitude. These stressors can produce thoughts and emotions that, if not understood, can transform a confident, well-trained, knowledgeable person into an indecisive and ineffective individual with questionable ability to survive. Thus, everyone must be aware of and be able to recognize those stressors most commonly associated with managing an emergency. In addition, it is important the individual be aware of their reactions to these stressors.
This is the first in a multi-part series on attitude in emergencies. Please follow our blog or rss to be sure you get our latest post’s.