In a crisis – near death, horses, flying and SCUBA

You ask, honestly how do I respond in a crisis?

And I am thinking what do you think is a crisis? From that answer you know how I respond in a crisis.

But you say, really, does that mean analysis, evaluate and then do?

Wow, you’re good.

But I’ll give examples:

1) I got a call four weeks ago, my mom had fallen and was unconscious in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. We were having a bad snow storm and the hospital was 160 miles away heading into the worst of the storm. I told my step dad, on the phone, that I wouldn’t travel in the storm. I didn’t travel until the next day, I called and emailed the rest of the family to tell them the situation and make plans. She regained consciousness after 22 hours, I got there, as did my brother, and stayed for three days until she was stable and ready to be moved out of ICU.

Mom's already got her halo
Mom’s already got her halo

She might have and almost did die, but my trying to drive and potentially get in an accident would have only added to the distress. She was unconscious – in other words, she wouldn’t know if I was there or not.

As far as future crisis, I have previously tried to get her to talk about what kinds of medical interventions she wants and doesn’t want, but she wasn’t ready to discuss it. I’m her will executor, but my step father will most likely want all the interventions possible and Mom no doubt knows that so any discussion is mostly moot.

2) I ride horses. It’s fairly easy to have a spook or some other weird thing happen. The most recent one was two summers ago on Blomberg bridge. Scout was not wanting to go back over it and he dodged to the right, I weighted myself to the left and he decided to go across, but my left shift caused the saddle to twist sideways.

Blomberg bridge it's longer than it looks here.
Blomberg bridge it’s longer than it looks here.

I grabbed mane and tried to get the saddle moved back to the right, which unfortunately didn’t work and sped him up going over the bridge. This bridge is maybe six feet wide and 20 feet long with metal rails. In a non-bridge circumstance I would have just gotten off, but here there wasn’t room for screwing around and I didn’t want him or me or both smashed into the rails or falling into the rocky creek below.

I had decided, not long after I rode over my first bridge on a horse, that if I got in trouble on a bridge my first rule would be to get off the bridge…I followed my plan and hit the ground on the far side when his mane in my hand sheared off. A couple of bruises, but I wear a helmet, always, so I was fine – needed a new helmet.

3) I used to travel/fly a lot for work and after a meeting in Salt Lake City I was on a flight to Minneapolis when the plane did an abrupt dive, the oxygen masks dropped out and the flight attendants were on the speaker system saying the pressurization of the cabin had malfunctioned and so we would be flying at a much lower and bumpier altitude. It was rough, we re-routed to Denver to land.

English: In-flight safety demonstration on boa...

There was screaming and moaning and wailing – one woman seemed to have truly freaked. I sat there thinking if I were more scared would my motion sickness disappear? But then again being more freaked wasn’t going to help the plane or its crew or me.

4) Let’s go back to the first time I ever remember panicking. I was in eighth grade, I had won free SCUBA diving lessons because of my swimming record that season on the North Ft Meyers swim team. We were supposed to dive to the bottom of an eight foot deep outdoor pool to then clear and put on all the SCUBA gear. I was the youngest student and first to try it. I went down, blew in to clear the mouthpiece tubing of water, picked up the tank/back pack and started to take a breath…well it wasn’t cleared and I didn’t have the tank up high enough and I got water blasted into my lungs. I was tough and tried a little more unsuccessfully and then basically panicked and went to the surface choking and coughing. Nobody scolded certainly, but the directions were clearly restated and I knew I hadn’t followed them well enough. I didn’t like that I had screwed up and I certainly didn’t like panicking…nobody said I did…but I knew I did. I let others have their turn so I could quit coughing and then did it again, but right this time.

So in a crisis, I may not be the quickest to respond, but I will usually be effective. I will resist panic (which doesn’t mean I won’t yell or scream if startled) and am irritated by unreasoned panic in others. And if it is something I have had any experience with usually I will have some planning steps ready for use.

In crises, which are more the survey/regulatory/legal, long kind, staff has said they like me because I have high standards but I don’t ‘go postal’ like some managers seem to, which is probably why I used to do crisis management consulting in long-term care. But working with this is exhausting because it drags on, people need so much support/coaching and reassurance and I would give it…that is why I stopped.

Have you had situations where you acted in a way that you regretted because it was a crisis or do you really do well under pressure? What meaning did you take from that experience?


3 thoughts on “In a crisis – near death, horses, flying and SCUBA

  1. I have regretted some choices and others I have done really well. There are some, like when my mother died, where I know I did what was right but it still haunts me.

    If you want to laugh my post today is about death by neti-pot. It is silly not serious.

    1. Yup, those questions where it’s right, but still not what we would have wanted…are tough and keep getting recycled. I am going to see about neti-pot. That whole idea of pouring water in…

It would be great to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s