Saturday, September 19, 2009

Emergency Response

Last week, right as I was settling down to do some graduate work and my roommate was comfy on the couch watching football, we hear a "cressshh" outside...and the power goes out. Being the experienced Californians we are (fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, rolling blackouts and economic crises), we responded with amazing speed.

I pulled out my handy dandy mini maglite and we went around unplugging all the electronics and shutting all the windows. It was totally fine until my roommate looked out the window and said, "Oh my god, there's someone standing right outside our window!!!"

All of a sudden, giggling and half hysterical, her and I start getting paranoid that people are going to use the outage to ransack our apartment. All of a sudden we're grabbing our purses, tucking expensive-looking things away and getting ready to spend the duration of the outage out at a restaurant or bar where there is electricity and other people.

Situations like that always highlight how our real actions differ so much from our theoretical actions. In reality, it is smart to leave the apartment in a citywide outage when looting is more likely but probably unnecessary for a power outage that affected only one block for a few hours. I like to believe that I'm a rational and calm person who can respond quickly and safely to a sudden crisis but apparently the smallest trigger - like a neighbor out trying to figure out why the power went out - can send me into a semi-panic.

Panic is situations like this are a natural part of animal instincts and will in actual crises save your life. Hopefully realizing my inclination towards panic will allow me to recognize when I'm just being silly and when the panic is legitimate and necessary to my survival. By admitting its existence and learning to recognize the actual rather than perceived severity of a situation will allow me to respond more effectively and successfully in the future.

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