It’s easy to tell people to “stay calm” in the event of an emergency.
We hear the “stay calm” message so frequently that it has turned into a meme, a running joke. “Remain calm in the event of a water landing,” we’re told. “Tornado warning in effect; remain calm, move to an interior room on the lowest floor, and protect yourself from flying debris.”
There’s even a popular line of T-shirts that remind us to “Keep calm and carry on,” a phrase originally coined by the British government in preparation for the Second World War.
But let’s be realistic for a moment: What’s the likelihood of a person genuinely staying calm in the event of an emergency?
- If a real estate agent is showing a rural country home, and the prospective buyer unleashes a gun, what’s the likelihood that the agent will remain calm enough to remember the address?
- If a visiting nurse goes to a patient’s home to provide medical care, and the patient responds violently, isn’t it natural for the nurse to experience an abrupt panic?
- If a student bursts through the classroom doors with a knife, isn’t it normal for the teacher – no matter how well-trained – to momentarily freeze, or scream, or otherwise forget her training in this moment of extreme stress?
The same could hold true for a ‘buddy-system’, which involves working with a partner, who in the moment of an incident, could panic . While some people may instantly launch into the “flight-or-fight” response, others may simply freeze.
In that frozen moment, they forget the password that unlocks their iPhone; they forget how to dial 911; they forget their current location; they may even forget the English language, especially if it’s not their native tongue.
“Specific brain circuits appear to mediate distinct coping reactions to different types of stressors,” says an article on The Biology of Fear- and Anxiety-Related Behaviors in Dialogues of Clinical Neurosciences published on the National Institutes of Health website. “Passive coping strategies, such as immobilization or freezing, are usually elicited when threat is inescapable … Differences in coping styles have also been found between various strains of mice, or between genetically selected rat lines, which suggests that they have a genetic basis.”
In other words, “freezing” during a high-stress situation is a normal response, especially if the victim perceives the situation as inescapable. In addition, some people may be genetically predisposed to freezing during a crisis.
Given these realities, issuing a “stay calm” directive is not a comprehensive emergency-management plan.
Managers must train their employees on how to handle a crisis, but this training alone isn’t a panacea. Workplaces must take appropriate measures to enable employees and contractors get help during crisis situations, even (especially) during those crucial split-seconds when the employee is panicking.
That’s why safety wearables like AlertGPS have a one-touch button that can prove vital in the event of an emergency. During a crisis scenario, the employee might not be able to instantly dig through her purse (or his jacket pocket), find his cellular phone, remember the password, unlock the phone, head to the homescreen, click the “phone” icon, pull up a dialpad, and call 911. That’s a lot of steps, at a moment when every second counts.
And as we mentioned, even if the employee can dial 911, there’s a chance that he might not remember where he’s located, how to describe the incident, or even which language he should speak. Panic can make people forget everything but the most basic functions. People in distressed situations can’t necessarily complete complex tasks.
Worse yet, let’s imagine that the employee manages to unlock his phone – but at that moment, an attacker knocks the phone out of his hand. The employee now has no way of calling for help. With a safety wearable like AlertGPS, the employee has another method of communication, a device that attackers won’t look for.
In addition, the one-touch button instantly communicates and records the user’s location, which means the employee isn’t tasked with remembering details like the address or the neighborhood. In a crisis scenario, there’s a low likelihood that a real estate agent who drives across town, touring 10 properties per day, will remember the address where he’s currently located.
Safety wearables like AlertGPS are instrumental in helping workers reach response personnel. Let’s imagine if the employee in a crisis situation tried to reach his supervisor by phone. He’d fumble with the phone’s password, call his office manager, reach an automated voice greeting telling him to “dial 0 to reach an operator,” get connected with an administrative assistant, and discover his supervisor is at lunch.
With the AlertGPS safety wearable, assigned personnel at the employees work location instantaneously and collectively receive an SOS text and email alert, and a voice call is placed to a pre-selected person. Additionally, employers and workers alike can also have the assurance that a 24/7 monitoring station will receive the SOS immediately and issue appropriate next steps.
Cell phones – like text messages and email – are crowded and imperfect methods for crisis communications. It’s prudent to use another method – a channel dedicated solely for emergencies – that staff can use to send SOS alerts instantly to appropriate response personnel who can take immediate action to the employee in distress.
When seconds count, “stay calm and remember details” isn’t an optimal emergency-response plan. Use a safety wearable that features a one-touch button that can be used to send an instant SOS signal. It’s a simple, effective solution that allows workers to get help when they need it – regardless of how panicked, or calm, they may feel.