Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Don't panic , Mister Mainwaring

Bloody well do panic is the answer according to this report .
The most common response in most disasters is not panic, but rather the opposite.

On the deck of the Estonia ferry, which sunk in the Baltic Sea in 1994, one man smoked a cigarette. Others sat in groups, doing nothing, as the water surged onto the ship.

In the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, about 1,000 people took the time to shut down their computers before evacuating. On average, people waited six minutes before beginning to leave. Once they entered the stairwell, they descended at the rate of about one minute per floor - twice as long as engineers would have predicted.

We know that in all kinds of disaster, from ship wrecks to burning buildings, the brain tends to go through three phases: denial, deliberation and the decisive moment. Our first instinct is to normalize the situation - to come up with wildly creative and reassuring explanations for why smoke might be creeping across the ceiling or why oxygen masks might have dropped from the airplane ceiling.

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