Tuesday, December 25, 2012


My contribution to the oft-repeated Survival Rule Of Threes is that you can survive about 3 seconds without security.

I say this because unlike most emergency responders, I was trained by some extremely insightful and dedicated mentors who didn't teach me the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation), they taught me the SRABCs : SAFETY, Rescue, Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

Since you (and any other nearby folks you have the desire or duty to be concerned about) are the one being rescued, in this case self-rescued, the safety of the rescuer from that mnemonic is also the safety of the victim.

As mentioned in the prior post, rampaging wild animals with 2 to 4 legs, or with more than 32 teeth, especially in packs, will render other concerns with longer survival windows moot in less time than it took to read this sentence. For example, if your craft (air or sea) sinks, an unfortunate encounter with sharks, crocodiles, et al will trump even the need for breathable air.

Time for a caveat: There is no such thing as perfect security. 
As a trained, certified, and duly licensed Devil's Advocate, I can assure you that whatsoever thing you can name to guarantee your safety, like any 4th-grader, I can name a bigger problem that leaves your plan undone. So can Mr. Murphy, and he has less of a sense of humor than I do, along with an annoying knack of coming along with everyone on every ride.

So we should all give up, right?
No; false binary dilemma between perfection and nothing. The security you want only needs to be better than what confronts it. "Good enough" security is. When it's not, your worries are over, possibly forever. Make the best appraisal of the potential problem(s), address the needs they create (hopefully with a generous fudge factor) and drive on. Everything is a series of choices, and acceptance of some amount of risk. Make good choices, minimize risks. Make bad choices,...you know the rest.

Corollary to this is what I call the Rescue 9-1-1 Formula: A+B=C
where A= immutable forces of Nature
and B= gross human stupidity
and C= a good morality tale on the folly of ignoring A and bringing a truckload of B together at the same place and time.
In some military units it's also known as the Don't Play Hopscotch In A Minefield Rule.

So now, wherever you are or imagine you might be, focus really hard on identifying all the possible threats to life and limb (that don't directly involve breathing, maintaining your body temperature, hydrating, or nutrition. We'll get to those in due course.)

To begin with, wherever you go, what is the most dangerous predator you could possibly face?

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the answer is either the person reading your screen, or someone very much like them. Using your brain takes care of Variable B, above, and solves half the potential problem.

So whatcha gonna do when the bad boys come for you?

Disaster Rule One (hat tip to Commander Zero) is : Be Somewhere Else.
Google Minneapolis Hurricane Katrina Victims, and you'll get the point. If something looks like a danger to life and limb, listen to your Lizard Brain, and GTFO. Preferably early, before the rush and inevitable traffic jams, if that's a possibility. For instance, if the verdict in the Rodney King case is coming in anytime soon, you probably don't want to be strolling in front of the police HQ, or stopping to chat with peeved urban youths in the heart of the ghetto.

But let's suppose your little emergency struck without any reasonable warning short of hyper-paranoia.
Disaster Rule Two: Get Somewhere Else. ASAP.

In the course of volunteering in a local big-city ER prior to getting educated enough to get paid to work in one, I helped maintain the daily patient log. In it were recorded the name, age, sex, time of arrival, and chief complaint of everyone passing through the doors seeking treatment for whatever. Several afternoons a week, I was one of the people who'd grab all the copies of the incoming patient sheets from the prior shift out of a basket, sort them chronologically, and enter the particular details into the department's bound logbook. It took no Mensa abilities on my part to rapidly notice a pattern: If you were over 25 and less than 65, not involved one way or another with alcohol, and in your own home by 11PM each night, unless you were having a baby, your chances of ending up on the ER blotter were only slightly higher than your chances of winning the Lotto or getting stricken by lightning. (No points for guessing what profile gets you the best actuarial break from your insurance company, by no coincidence). On the other hand, going out drinking with your friends until 3 AM in the really "cool" (read "so seedy that even derelicts didn't complain about the noise") part of downtown, even as the designated driver, made getting robbed, raped, punched, stabbed, shot, or hit by other drunks' cars rise until between 4-6AM, participation in one of those at-risk behaviors was almost a certain recipe for paying the ER a visit. There's a reason Ben Franklin said what he said about "Early to bed, early to rise..."

Taking all of that together, the first thing one can do to vastly increase their odds for a long life with a minimum of stitches is to get someplace where not just the crime rate, but the population itself is low. For Sartre', "Hell is other people." For someone looking to minimize catastrophic risk, "Survival Hell is TOO MANY other people."

The second thing is that if one can't live and work in a relatively safe and quiet area, being able to get to one, and being able to stay there, should the need arise, is a close second.

But even if you live in Option One, or you're trying to get there under Option Two, you may still end up amidst a rather unpleasant experience in human relations, colloquially referred to by my medical colleagues as "getting jacked."

Whether by man or beast.

So for next time, we'll look at things to do about that.

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