The Value of Training for Surviving Crisis Situations

Training is Critical in a Crisis

While training doesn’t guarantee future success, if properly presented, it does ensure that there is a sector in your brain which contains information you are able to recall and provide yourself with options for action, especially in a crisis.

Every day we are confronted with questions and situations which require our minds to search our memory banks for previous experiences or information which will provide us options for a response. Most of the time we’ve discussed similar issues, or received training on the topic in the past, which allows us to make an informed decision in responding to the dilemma.

Recalling previous experiences or training is especially critical in a crisis. A crisis event, such as a fire, auto accident or extreme violence causes even trained individuals, let alone untrained ones, to pause. We are initially startled and anxious. Trained individuals quite often then begin to recall previous training and experiences related to the event confronting them. They become proactive and formulate options to respond. If an option doesn’t work, they have the resilience and confidence to select another response and move forward until the crisis is successfully dealt with. Untrained individuals are more likely to waste precious seconds in denial (this can’t be happening), disbelief (this can’t be happening to me) and, in many cases, fall into a state of helplessness (I have no idea what to do) and freeze. Untrained/unprepared individuals often become the casualties in a crisis.

One of the most successful training models to prepare individuals to survive a crisis is called Stress Inoculation Training. It was initially developed by Dr. Albert Biderman and a panel of experts working for the Department of Defense following the Korean War. Their task was to create a method to train military personnel to survive the rigors of captivity and return with honor. By presenting increasingly challenging scenarios to individuals, who have previously been academically instructed and had a chance to apply the instruction in role-play scenarios to achieve success, students gain confidence, resilience and the fortitude to overcome increasingly demanding obstacles.

This very method is utilized today, not only by the military, but by law enforcement, emergency medical and fire departments. The goal is to train their personnel to operate at close to their optimum efficiency in crisis situations.