Some time ago I read a book by John Leach called “Survival Psychology” it is one of the best out there on the subject. John details why people do what they do and suggests what people might do, by understanding how the mind works, to direct themselves to survival and safety.
John states: “In an emergency 75% of people have to be told what to do. Only 10-15% of the people act appropriately leaving the remaining 10-15% sitting on the sidelines acting inappropriately!” Those in the top 15% had prepared for the events that they found themselves in.
When I read a statement like that I quite naturally probe myself asking, “where do I fall in that statement?” Do this exercise yourself, and be perfectly honest about it, don’t rationalize. What you want to do is find out where you are really positioned, and by knowing that, you can move yourself to where you need to be. I would suggest that perhaps each of us may place differently depending on the type of emergency. If it is in an area that we are more familiar, we would be more of a leader, and more sure of what to do.
Find out what your weaknesses are
If you have never been around tornadoes, and a warning or watch is posted you may get the “deer in the headlights” look, which is simply a stunned or shocked feeling that many times causes uncertainty in knowing what to do. Being in that situation makes you one of the 75% that John talks about, that are waiting for someone to tell them what to do.
How do you move from being one waiting to be told what to do, to knowing and taking action?
Knowledge. Knowledge of various threats and situations, studying what others have done successfully has the effect of preparing your mind, or training it in how to respond to emergencies. When I took CERT training in my city it gave me direction and information about most of the threats one might encounter and how to deal with them, as well as how to prepare ahead of time. We did practice drills that gave each of us the opportunity to evaluate conditions and make a decision. It was interesting how after a number of these exercises, much of the uncertainty vanished and I felt comfortable in quite a few types of emergencies. The practice lets your mind embed successful experiences, which can be instantly drawn upon in a real emergency. Now I know what to do in a lot of circumstances, that prior to becoming CERT certified, I may have been one of those who waits to be told what to do.
So learning and practice prepare a person to lead out in tough conditions, making them a contributor rather than a drone waiting to be taken care of. They become one of the top 10% in John Leach’s research example. The time to become trained is now, the time to prepare is now, the time to practice is now.
Note about CERT: It stands for Community Emergency Response Team. Most cities and towns in the US have these programs, and a good part of the world does as well. It is a great public service to get trained and become part of a local team. In a community emergency you can be one of those helping your city to deal with disaster, become a contributor.
For Wilderness Innovation this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”