Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

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Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby George Dasher » Feb 21, 2008 2:18 pm

How to Get Out Alive

From Time magazine,
April 25, 2005,
by Amanda Ripley

When the plane hit Elia Zedeño's building on 9/11, the effect was not subtle. From the 73rd floor of Tower 1, she heard a booming explosion and felt the building actually lurch to the south, as if it might topple. It had never done that before, even in 1993 when a bomb exploded in the basement, trapping her in an elevator. This time, Zedeño grabbed her desk and held on, lifting her feet off the floor. Then she shouted, "What's happening?" You might expect that her next instinct was to flee. But she had the opposite reaction. "What I really wanted was for someone to scream back, 'Everything is O.K.! Don't worry. It's in your head.”

She didn't know it at the time, but all around her, others were filled with the same reflexive incredulity. And the reaction was not unique to 9/11. Whether they're in shipwrecks, hurricanes, plane crashes, or burning buildings, people in peril experience remarkably similar stages. And the first one—even in the face of clear and urgent danger—is almost always a period of intense disbelief.

Full story here
Last edited by NZcaver on Feb 22, 2008 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Article abridged and link added
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Re: Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby shibumi » Feb 21, 2008 6:16 pm

Great article. This is why I stress training and some skills that should be practiced until they are body memories.

Training will carry you through a lot of situations when you don't have the luxury of time to think.
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Re: Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby batrotter » Feb 22, 2008 7:31 am

Great article! Thanks for posting.
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Re: Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby cavedoc » Feb 25, 2008 11:47 pm

George Dasher wrote:How to Get Out Alive

From Time magazine,
April 25, 2005,
by Amanda Ripley

Whether they're in shipwrecks, hurricanes, plane crashes, or burning buildings, people in peril experience remarkably similar stages. And the first one—even in the face of clear and urgent danger—is almost always a period of intense disbelief.


I've been thinking about this for a while (Great post George). I think the most important part was the thought of the gentleman who survived the dual 747 crash in Tenerife. He made a plan on what he would do and implemented it when the time came. I think this is the message. I think that Ms. Ripley is over-simplifying to say reacting quickly is the answer. Frequently this is nothing more than panic. In hindsight it's easy to say that more 911 victims would have survived if they had all headed to the stairs immediately. But if they'd all headed immediately, and the towers didn't fall, would she be writing about how un-necessary panic lead to so many deaths in a panicked stairwell stampede? Sometimes the freeze reaction is a good one. Often it's not. While it's easy to say now that we should plan on what to do when an airplane hits our building, it's not what I would have planned for and I doubt that many who died did either. There is a saying that the first thing to do in a code (medical code blue situation) is to take your own pulse. While perhaps not literally true, it's not bad advice. Assess, make a plan, implement it. All the better if we have a plan in place already.
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Re: Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby shibumi » Feb 26, 2008 8:52 am

cavedoc wrote:

I've been thinking about this for a while (Great post George). I think the most important part was the thought of the gentleman who survived the dual 747 crash in Tenerife. He made a plan on what he would do and implemented it when the time came. I think this is the message. I think that Ms. Ripley is over-simplifying to say reacting quickly is the answer. Frequently this is nothing more than panic. In hindsight it's easy to say that more 911 victims would have survived if they had all headed to the stairs immediately. But if they'd all headed immediately, and the towers didn't fall, would she be writing about how un-necessary panic lead to so many deaths in a panicked stairwell stampede? Sometimes the freeze reaction is a good one. Often it's not. While it's easy to say now that we should plan on what to do when an airplane hits our building, it's not what I would have planned for and I doubt that many who died did either. There is a saying that the first thing to do in a code (medical code blue situation) is to take your own pulse. While perhaps not literally true, it's not bad advice. Assess, make a plan, implement it. All the better if we have a plan in place already.


The first thing I do when called to some type of emergency is to review what I know about responding to that type of emergency. Usually while enroute, but sometimes I'll take a minute or two before. Freezing for a short time when something unexpected happens isn't a bad survival strategy overall since we
operate about a tenth of a second behind reality: we need a short time to process what happened. I think the thrust of Ms. Ripley's article was on the number of people who become disabled by conflicting responses during an emergency. I've experienced it, especially when I was first learning how to work in emergencies. It's a lot like when you learn to drive, you spend so much time trying to process all incoming data that it slows or stops your reaction times. As you learn how to respond you learn what things need conscious thought, what things that can be handled by automatic responses, and what can be safely ignored. Soldiers in their first firefight can experience this too, which is why trusting your training is so stressed in the military.

I think this is one reason why when teaching people CPR the thing the Red Cross stresses is not to tell someone to call for help, but to point to someone and say "you! call 911!"
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Re: Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Feb 26, 2008 11:18 am

Well, lets take this article and apply it to something that we all (here) know best about. Caving.
Caves; tend to flood, they can collapse and bury the entrance, ropes can fail and leave a group stranded, a person gets stuck in a passage while a cave is flooding... lots of different scenarios to play around with (so to speak).
A number of us I would assume have some sort of cave-rescue/self-rescue training. This would help in the survivability but what about those who don't? The beginners with us on a particular trip?
What scenarios would come up in a group survival situation in a cave? How would they be handled by you?
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


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Re: Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby mae » Feb 26, 2008 2:02 pm

shibumi wrote:I think this is one reason why when teaching people CPR the thing the Red Cross stresses is not to tell someone to call for help, but to point to someone and say "you! call 911!"


This comes out of social psych research on bystander apathy or diffusion of responsibility. People are less likely to act if they think that someone else will do it. Only a small percentage of the population will react quickly in a crowd situation if not singled out. I'm not sure if there have been any large scale studies on determining who these people are that have this quality. However, when one person does react, many are quick to follow the lead.
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Re: Here's an article on survival that everyone should read!

Postby shibumi » Feb 26, 2008 2:45 pm

mae wrote:
shibumi wrote:I think this is one reason why when teaching people CPR the thing the Red Cross stresses is not to tell someone to call for help, but to point to someone and say "you! call 911!"


This comes out of social psych research on bystander apathy or diffusion of responsibility. People are less likely to act if they think that someone else will do it. Only a small percentage of the population will react quickly in a crowd situation if not singled out. I'm not sure if there have been any large scale studies on determining who these people are that have this quality. However, when one person does react, many are quick to follow the lead.


This makes sense. When I teach communications and leadership in rescue I talk about the importance of giving tasks to a specific person and getting both verbal and nonverbal responses. Roger, this is Amanda's field, does she have anything to say about it?

I credit training to my responses: because I am trained, I react with confidence... because I am trained. But is there something underlying in my personality (no comments there please...), or is it something that anyone can learn to do.

We're putting together a cave rescue team and one thing I've noodled around for a while is the "too many chiefs" problem. We have that at NCRC during the Mock often times. If too many people are trained in a poorly defined emergency, it can lead to leadership conflicts. I've seen this at every large scale disaster to which I have responded as well. In a cave rescue, I'd much prefer to have a few people who are highly trained, and a bunch of people who have a little training but who are willing to do what they are told.
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