Pilots, medical professionals, military personnel, and emergency responders must be prepared to deal with the “fight or flight” biological phenomenon. Competency in emergency response procedures is necessary for those who may encounter hazardous situations in their jobs, in order to avoid the onset of panic in a crisis situation.
Stressful situations activate the body's sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to mobilize hormones that results in increased heart rate and blood pressure, dilated pupils, rapid release of adrenaline, and other effects. Once various hormones reach certain levels, a state of panic can ensue. The parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) must engage in order to counteract these hormones. In order to maintain or restore a sense of calm, the brain must engage in instinctual, known, and familiar processes.
Emergency procedures need to become second nature in order to combat the natural affects of stress in a crisis situation. Panic can ensue quickly if an individual is not prepared with reactive and effective measures. The four steps in the emergency response planning process identifies way to limit risk prior, during, and after an emergency, thereby making the stress of a crisis manageable to those trained in the process.
1. Mitigation: Crisis prevention through the identification of structural and non-structural risks can prevent hazards and eliminate or reduce the effects of emergencies or disasters. Once risks are identified, solutions and planning can be implemented to limit effects of a disaster.
2. Preparedness: The ability to provide a rapid and systematic response through established and effective procedures allows employees to react instinctively accordingly to the crisis or emergency. Trained employees are better suited to handle a crisis without panic than those that have no training.
3. Response: The rapid mobilization of emergency response services is imperative to limit the effects and potential chaos of an ongoing disaster. Having a well-rehearsed emergency plan enables efficient and effective response coordination, and reduces loss of property, and impact to the environment and surrounding community.
4. Recovery: After the threat to human life has passed, the response mode transforms into disaster recovery. Companies should utilize this window of opportunity for mitigation in order to limit future risk.
Of course, the level of required training must be consistent with the potential for crisis situations, in order to battle the effects of the Sympathetic Nervous System. However through preparation, knowledge, and proper training, personnel will likely rely on ingrained instinct rather than be overloaded with emotion in the event of an emergency.
1. “ Brain Activity during a Panic Attack”; http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/brain_activity_during_a_panic_attack.
2. “How You Learn Physical Skills: instinct, deliberate action, and trained response, human mind affects autonomic system”; http://kschang.hubpages.com/hub/How-You-Learn-Physical-Skills-instinct-deliberate-action-and-trained-response.
For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.