Friday, August 26, 2011

Your reactions when condition yellow turns orange or red

The arson attack on a casino in Mexico’s city of Monterrey killed over 50 people.  When the six men came into the casino through the front door they were yelling for the people to hit the floor or get out.  It didn’t appear that they were trying to kill a bunch of people, they were trying to destroy the casino.  The casino owners didn’t want to pay the drug cartels protection money so the drug cartel was retaliating. 

A lot of people died even though that didn’t appear to be their motive.  What happened?  When the yelling, then explosions started people hid in the bathrooms and offices instead of trying to get out.  They ended up getting trapped by the flames and died of smoke inhalation.

What would I do if something like that happened to me?  I could be glib and say that I wouldn’t be in a Mexican casino but an attack like this can happen anywhere.  I do go to places with lots of people and not too many ways in and out.  I go to sporting events, theater, the occasional restaurant meal, and even on airplanes and ships.  You and I don’t know if there is an issue between someone and a building owner or the business owner or an employee in a business or a regular customer.  You can’t really predict the act of a lone individual or small group of people. 

It’s all about situational awareness.  There is a color code system that describes your awareness.  White means you are oblivious to your surroundings.  If something happens you are in the middle of it before you even realize it is happening.  Yellow means that you are more aware.  It is still a relaxed state but this is where you should be.  You are paying attention to your surroundings but not really focusing on any one thing in particular.  You aren't really going to be surprised by anything because you are continuously looking around and taking it all in.  Orange is when you are aware of a threat.  You are focused on that threat.  You are starting to get a flow of adrenaline which elevates your blood pressure, pumps more oxygen through your system, and other physiologic reactions. You aren't in the fight or flight mode, just still taking it in.  You don't want to be in an orange situation because it may escalate into a fight or flight.  Then there's condition red.  The threat is real and has to be dealt with.  Your reaction can be a matter of life or death. 

There is more than one way in and one way out.  Usually there’re more than two ways in and out.  Know where those routes are.   Whether you are at a restaurant, a hospital, a school, the theater, or driving down a road know how to get away from where you are at.  At the first sign of trouble do you freeze up?  Do you watch what’s going on?  Do you try to retreat?  If people are shooting do you run into the bathroom or out the building?  Do you know if the bad guys all came in one entrance or several?  Do you know how many there are? 

I was threatened at my job yesterday.  Somebody didn’t like a decision I made.  The threat was not a physical threat but an "I’m telling the higher authorities."  Not a problem, I forwarded his email to the higher authorities.  The higher authorities not only told me that my decision was correct but that this person has been a thorn in their side.  And now I am on his list of people that he is not happy with. 

Should I be worried?  Should I be more alert?  No.  From my assessment of the person he isn’t at the point of exploding or doing anything irrational.  I do a lot of "what if" scenarios throughout the day: as I drive, as I work, even at home if I'm cooking or hanging up laundry on the clothes line.  As long as I live in a condition of Yellow all will be fine.

1 comment:

  1. Working as a nurse I have been threatened and even physically assaulted by confused or mentally ill patients and I am often shocked at my own reaction which is to instinctively react in a fight back mannor. I once body slammed a 6'7" inmate down onto the bed after he kicked me in the head. Later I thought what the heck was I thinking? I do try to notice my surroundings including exits. Unfortunately there is no way to know what can happen or if these people could have known what was happening would end in fire, but having the mindset ahead of time that you will be calm in any case scenario is a good start.