THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EMERGENCIES

This beginning info is what I remember of a class I took in college 25 years ago and a TV news magazine story that I saw in ?December 1998.

When a human being sees an emergency, they should ask themselves two questions. Is this a real emergency? What am I going to do about it? Based upon the work of research psychologists, this is reportedly the best method to achieving an optimum outcome.

This info was developed by putting college kids in a room, telling them they would get paid ?$10 per hour to take an ?IQ test. Then, the sounds of someone screaming or falling would be played in an adjacent room. After watching the college students react to these situations, the research psychologists pondered what they had seen and came up with the suggestions which I mentioned above.

The recent TV show that I saw was talking about a woman who was killed by a man (thrown in a river and drowned) in front of a crowd. The one item I gleaned from this report was - if you need help from a crowd, single out one person at a time to ask for help. Asking for help in this manner will reportedly get you much better results than if you request help from a whole crowd of people.

by Peter Szerlag --- February 25, 1999

More ?good thoughts - May 21, 1999

From what I have read about disasters, they usually occur after a chain of small screwups. And as I hear more and more about the Y2K problem, I cannot help but think that if 6 billion little imbedded chips fail on New Years Eve, causing a bunch of little "disasters", then chances are good that a very large disaster could follow. Is this psychology or is this philosophy? Any comments?

I just thought of another item. Aviation Week and Space Technology in a May 1999 issue reports that a recent jetliner crash in China (that killed 30 people) may have been caused by the pilots not being sure if the controllers were giving them altitudes in meters or feet. Bottom line - human intelligence is not infinite - everyone has a limit regarding how much info they can process in an emergency situation.

July 14, 1999 - Marksmen take a deep breath and let half of it out before firing. People are often advised to take a deep breath when they are excited. I wonder what the connection is?

A good way to prepare for future events is to visualize the event in your mind and then to visualize your responses to the situation. This also known as "thinking it over in your head" or "pre-planning in your mind".

Just throwing down some thoughts here - Problem solving - get input - define problem - create committee - delegate authority - gather facts - deliberate - ("synergy" is the unique situation where the output of multi people coalesces to form a mightier product than the output from each person added up singularly) - think - look at pluses and minuses - set deadline (at emergency incident scenes, it is usually not required to set deadlines - they are usually pretty apparent).

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