This is a guest post by Chris H and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
I was in a large furniture store in downtown Bozeman, Montana selling my services to the manager (I owned a carpet cleaning franchise and a commercial cleaning service at the time) when a lady came running in from the street and told us there was a man outside having a heart attack. I rushed outside to find an unconscious man lying upon the sidewalk obviously in major cardiac arrest. He was surrounded by a small group of people as silent and unmoving as pillars of stone watching him die.
I pushed through the group and fell to my knees to administer CPR until the paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, the man did not survive.
What I found to be most peculiar about that scene was that aside from the one person who had alerted us to the emergency all of the others had been immobilized. And then I remembered that I too had once done the same thing. A few years earlier I had been shopping in a large grocery store when down the aisle from where I stood a lady suddenly collapsed to the floor and began having a grand mal seizure. I did rush to her side but then stood silently watching. A man rushed over and said in these classic words, “Don’t just stand there. Do something.” He then moved to protect her from smashing her head against store shelving until the seizure was over.
My inaction that day was deeply troubling. I had been well trained in first aid and had thought I was prepared for most any situation, but I had done nothing. Upon leaving the store I vowed to myself that I would never let that happen again. I promised myself that in the future I would act in the event of an emergency. Remarkably over the next decade or so my vow was put to the test in unexpected ways. I have been the first to respond at four serious automobile accidents. Two of these accidents had fatalities. I held people in my arms as they perished. Note that I said I was the first to respond at these accidents. There were others who were on site before I was, and once again I witnessed the curious immobilized behavior of all concerned.
I have come to learn that this immobilization, this stunned sort of shock, is not uncommon. In fact it’s often the first reaction of those in an emergency situation. The human brain simply freezes when confronted with situations it is totally unprepared to deal with. I’ve learned that one must make a simple decision to prepare oneself for the unexpected emergency. One must decide beforehand to act.
But there is more to it. I have found the best thing to do is to clearly picture in my mind events that may occur and then just as clearly I see myself acting, responding. I may not know what might happen in the future nor do I know what action I will take but I absolutely know I will act. Sometimes I play a little mental game in order that I might be more effective in the event of an emergency.
Here is an example: recently I was driving at night in a storm as I traveled across Nevada to Utah on a rather remote route. I role played in my mind what I would do if an EMP were detonated over the US and I suddenly found myself isolated, alone, and without transportation (a major EMP will destroy the computerized parts of a vehicle). What would I do?
My first words to myself were, “I’d be screwed.” Experience has demonstrated that emergencies are never convenient so I knew it was actually essential to role-play the scenario in my mind. Of course I had basic emergency items with me such as warm clothing, energy bars, knife, rope, flashlights, a BIC lighter, my .45 and water. I would have survived because I was both mentally prepared and had items necessary for survival with me.
I posses a Concealed Firearms Permit and know that the most important responsibility I have is to not just be technically prepared to use the weapon correctly, but to be mentally prepared to actually shoot. I have asked myself if I would literally pull the weapon out, put my finger on the trigger and shoot someone with the intent to kill. The answer is yes, yes I would. Without that decision the weapon and the permit would be useless. And unfortunately I know that as a fact. A few years ago there was a tragic public shooting here in Carson City. A man walked into a busy IHOP restaurant and opened fire, killing several people. There was another man nearby with a concealed carry permit. He did nothing. I may be wrong, but I assume he had not made the decision long before that he would act in just this type of situation and so he froze.
There is another decision, however, that is equally as important as the decision to act when the time comes, and it is this: decide to prepare. Each of us will prepare differently. Some have built, or will build elaborate fortified retreats. Others may find they are satisfied with having a 72 hr. emergency kit in the garage, and yet others may believe the paternal State in the form of FEMA will provide – though I dare say none who believe this last will be found reading this essay. This faith in FEMA in my opinion may be nothing less than self-destruction.
What I am saying is to take action. Begin today if you have not already. And for those of you who have begun but have not completed your plans, now is the best time. Repeat after me: Yes, I will take action. Now. Today. I know from personal experience that for many financial resources are very limited but you’d be surprised at what can be done a little bit at a time when one sets ones mind to it.
I have one last suggestion, and perhaps the most important of the three decisions. I am presenting to you. Fear can be a great motivator but can also be a real bastard to live with each day. Preparedness helps limit the fear. However, I have observed that fear can also become an addiction. The constant vibration of fear that feeds on an unlimited supply of fantastic imminent catastrophes fed to us online through YouTube or Facebook, for instance, can ruin your life, and alienate your family and loved ones. I encourage you to strictly limit the amount of time you spend online or otherwise scaring the crap out of yourself each day. The brain wants to be entertained and active. Make the decision to feed it something other than fear. You’ll be much happier, and more balanced in your approach to life.
There you have it. Decide to act. Decide to prepare. Decide to choose life and love over fear.
Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and 1 Case of Survival Cave Food Chicken with 12 14.5 oz. Cans courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Second place winner will receive – $100 off of your next order of Fish Antibiotics courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a Survival Puck courtesy of SurvivalPuck.com and a SurvivalistBlog.net Coffee Mug courtesy of Horton Design.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.
Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on March 17 2014