Emergencies present unique and difficult challenges that can have profound and far-reaching consequences for any community or organization.
How prepared one is going in – the ability to anticipate problems, identify solutions, and pivot during difficult and dynamic environments – are key factors in determining whether a situation or incident is likely to resolve with minimal impacts, or has the potential to pose a serious or existential threat.
A failure to plan is a plan for failure.
The heat of the moment, with so much unknown and emotions running high, is not the time for people to scramble to find a dusty ERP, flip through a training manual, or second-guess their knowledge or decision-making abilities.
As the saying goes in the Navy Seals, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”. This universal truth has been borne out time and time again, that humans, even exceptionally trained, good-intentioned, and well-practiced individuals, tend to default to what they know or are familiar with, rather than stepping out of their comfort zone when faced with a pressure situation.
What is familiar to us, carries less perceived risk – it’s more comfortable, stable, and feels more manageable. This is what we need when pressure is high.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It makes sense that when faced with the uncertainty of an emergency, one would attempt to create a sense of order where they can. However, that habitual practice of “going with the flow” instead of proactively planning and training for inevitable disasters has a downside – if you only ever “fall back” you won’t allow yourself to improve.
This is why it is so important to keep the momentum going – keep planning, keep training, validate your skills, and strive to get better. There will always be room for improvement, and while we will never be able to anticipate every potential scenario or consequence, the best strategy to improve and better position yourself to effectively respond to emergencies is to try something new in a low-pressure and supportive environment.
Set yourself up for success.
If you want to do better under pressure, you need to:
Plan when you have the time to effectively consider risks, hazards, and consequences;
Implement before you need to, and when you can properly socialize response practices and procedures to responders; and
Train when the pressure is low. Regularly practicing what to do during an emergency can ensure people have the required knowledge, skills, and abilities, the confidence to use them, and a working familiarity with the tools and resources they need to respond effectively.
At CDRO, we are here to help!
Check out our Advisory Services, including:
Planned and Unplanned Event Management
Program Development and Assessment
Program and Project Management
Audit and Assurance activities
Threat, Vulnerability, Hazard Identification and Assessment
Exercise Design, Development, Facilitation, and Debrief
Whatever it is, you’re better prepared to meet with open eyes, a clear plan, a practiced hand, and a little help along the way.