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You should have easily finished The Unthinkable by now. In this book, journalist Amanda Ripley explores how we react in a disaster and why. She also discusses how we can better prepare ourselves for survival when faced with the unexpected. Use the following questions as potential starting points for discussion. You don’t have to answer them sequentially or even answer all of them! Please share your honest perceptions and points of learning –
1.Reflect on this book and how it impacted you. What was surprising? What was confirming?
2.Did anything you read influence you in the present or in terms of what you will do (or not do) in the future?
3.What did you learn about how people react in a disaster event? Did anything surprise or fascinate you?
4.If you could share one thing with a loved one or peer, what would it be?
5.Feel free to share anything further that was impactful for you –
response for the post
I really enjoyed The Unthinkable book. I found it very intriguing how complicated the brain is when it reacts to stress. One of the many things that I found surprising was how exit strategies are designed with the idea that people move like water. With all of the resources to view how people move in an emergency I am surprised that engineers have not started creating better plans to evacuate buildings. I felt as if this was something that was taught when becoming an architect and engineer. I believe that it is a fatal mistake to not reference emergency managers, and specialist that could improve the probability of people escaping buildings.
A confirmation I had in the reading was the recognition of training and practice. This is something that I have believed in for a long time. Since I started playing sports I have noticed the more I practiced the better I was when I was in a game and the stress levels where higher. The same goes with my military training the more conditioning I had before the better I performed when it came to real life scenarios. Some of the training I received in Pre-Ranger school was breathing techniques, that would lower my heart rate while doing strenuous exercises and testing. The results from the breathing techniques helped me greatly.
I have always been conscious of large crowds and how people move in crowds. Reading about the plane scenario in England and in Saudi Arabia really fascinated me. I tend to stay away from large crowds but never realized the same effects in a large crowd could happen in a plane or small store. It really fascinated me how crowd dynamics could be broken down to mathematics.
Something I have been sharing with friends and family since I have read this book was to not hesitate when a fire alarm or someone tells you to leave an area. Realizing how deadly it could be to waste time asking questions or waiting for more guidance, the best advice I want to give people is to not ask questions and get out. Almost to the mentality to act first ask questions later thought process.
One of the reasons I joined the Army Infantry is because I always wanted to know how I would react in stressful, life threatening environment. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I wouldn’t be the one to freeze but the one who took action. As I trained and prepared for those scenarios I came to realize that part of it was the conditioning that we did before hand and some of it was just dependent on the individual. Sometimes the strongest, hardest people I worked with where the ones that froze and the guys that I expected to freeze where the ones the most calm, cool and collected in the chaos.
A thought/ memory that came to mind when reading about panic was the second day of basic training we enter the gas chamber. The second we removed our masks in the chamber some guys rushed to the door trying to escape others just took the pain and waited there turn out the door. It was interesting to see how people react when vision becomes impaired and breathing becomes difficult. The thing that kept me calm inside the chamber was the knowing that it would end, and that the Drill Sergeants said the more we panicked the longer we would stay in the chamber and the worse the gas would get into our lungs. It burnt but I knew it would end and I kept that in my head.