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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Getting a different result

Read a quote by a Dave Ramsey on another site (sorry, I don't know who this gentleman is) that was probably, considering the nature of said site, given in a political and/or economic context. I find this quote most intriguing, however, when I think of how it applies to our own emergency preparedness efforts:

“Desperate always reaps stupid.”

To which I would reply, "Well, not necessarily."

Let me just say up front, emphatically, and in a if-you-don't-remember-anything-else-about-this-post-remember-this kind of way, that I know that what happened with US Airways Flight 1549, which you may recall made an emergency landing on the Hudson, was a miracle. No way it could have come out the way that it did if it hadn't been a miracle.

And this was a truly desperate situation. They recently released the cockpit audio of the conversations that took place before the emergency landing, which, along with an article, you can find here. Captain Chesly Sullenberger was amazing. He was well-trained, in the first place. And he was aware of what his options could be once he got into the situation. He talks about returning to LaGuardia. He asks about Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. If I'm not mistaken, his last transmission before the landing was the statement, "We're going to be in the Hudson." Calm, cool, and collected the entire time. At least outwardly. If you read the article, you will see this quote from him:

"It was the worst, sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling I've ever felt in my life," he said in an interview airing Sunday. "I knew immediately it was very bad."

It was a desperate situation--both engines not working, and nowhere normal to land. But Captain Sullenberger reaped anything but stupid. Both he and we reaped a miracle.

The ground control people couldn't even reach Captain Sullenberger right after the landing. According to the article,

"There was no response from the former Air Force fighter pilot, who had quickly headed into the crippled plane to assist the passengers."

That's right. He was already busy helping somebody else. Probably several somebody elses.

So what does that have to do with our emergency preparation? I would hazard a guess and say that there is probably a low percentage of people reading this that are professional pilots that would find themselves in this situation. At least I hope not when it comes to the "this situation" part. But we don't necessarily have to make desperate reap stupid. What can we do within our means to make the "reaping stupid" part unnecessary?

Well, to draw a few comparisons:

---Be sure that you receive training or train yourselves for what you will/may need to do in the case of an emergency. Even if the emergency consists solely of living on your food storage, do you know how to use it? Can you provide the meals you need for your family from the supplies that you have? Do you know how to defend yourselves if the need arose? Do you have an evacuation plan in the case of a natural disaster? There is always room for improvement when it comes to being more prepared in the area of knowledge and/or skills, and you never know when you might need them. And at that point you may have only about three minutes to decide what you are going to do...

--Know our options. What are your options in the case of job loss? How do you protect yourself and/or your family in the case of a pandemic? What will you do in the case of the loss of your home due to personal financial issues? Whatever emergency you think you may face, think of how you may deal with it. Plan A, plan the most desperate options for your last.

--Stay calm, even if inside you don't feel calm. Easier said than done, and a lot harder for yours truly than I would care to admit. I can't think of a situation that is improved by panic...

--If/when you can, help others. Pretty self-explanatory, and yet, I had to add something like this sentence anyway, didn't I.... :)

Well, as I stated previously, we need to prepare as much as we can within our means, so it won't all be equal, but it will all be helpful, emergency or not. Desperate doesn't necessarily have to reap stupid. I hope we will all do all that we can so that we don't have to make "stupid" an automatic result in desperate situations.

And then, when we have done everything we can, may we always remember---miracles can, do, and in the case of Flight 1549 did--- happen.


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