Training is Key
How you react to emergencies is a matter of life and death. The best way to ensure an effective response to an emergency situation is to prepare for emergencies before they happen. “Few people can think clearly and logically in a crisis, so it is important to do so in advance, when you have time to be thorough.” (From the OSHA publication: How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations, https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3088.html)
Rewiring Our Brains
Studies show that when individuals are thrown into high stress situations with little or no training, their brains function at a lower level. Why? Because our bodies are naturally programmed to go into fight-or-flight mode. In this mode, a few things happen. First, the body produces a stress hormone called cortisol, which slows down the area of our brain where critical thinking takes place and enlarges the area of the brain where emotions rule. Second, the place in our brain where learning and memory take place temporarily narrows. This means that our natural tendency in a time of emergency is to act emotionally rather than rationally.
Fight-or-flight may have been necessary to our survival in the days when predators were after us for their dinner, but things are different today. Modern threats require that we remain calm and in control in order to carry out the functions necessary for survival, such as calling 911, administering first aid, or assessing whether a child is going into anaphylactic shock.
Drill, Drill, Drill
Luckily, we can rewire our brains to operate on a higher level during emergency situations, and one of the most effective ways is through training. This is why fire drills are practiced a number of times each year – when we do fire drills again and again, we are preparing our bodies to go to into auto mode, enabling us to act quickly and decisively in the event of an emergency. Reading about emergency procedures in a manual is just not enough – we need to put plans into practice and drill, drill, drill.
Upcoming Training Sessions
The Office of Risk Management has been offering Parish Safety and School Active Shooter Response Training sessions for the past few years. These sessions include a hand-on component that we encourage you to practice in your own facility with your staff. For more information on sessions, please contact Doreen Rearden.