Making decisions can be very difficult for some people, especially under stressful situations. For others it is simple and comes naturally, under pressure or not. Making a correct decision in an emergency or disaster takes a little more training to get it right. In this post I will explain how to do just that.
In my last post (SURVIVING ANY DISASTER: Part 6 – Situational Awareness) I explained how to process all that information coming in, prioritizing it and using it as part of the process. Here I will show you how to use it correctly and why it is important.
There is a great tool out there called the ; well worth learning and using. For now I will just touch on it enough to give you a basic understanding. The OODA advocates the concept of Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act methodology. While I like the OODA concept it is better used, in my opinion, in wrapping around the concepts of Situational Awareness (SA). For me SA takes over the “OO” part of the OODA Loop. Using the concept of SA a person comes to a better understanding of their surroundings and what impact it has on their situation.
However, there is some great information within the OODA Loop theory that I subscribe too. And I use it in the decision-making aspect of surviving disasters and emergencies. Great SA allows us to make great decisions. Yes? Well, maybe not so much.
There are people that have a tough time making decisions. Mostly I believe that problem comes from “fear of failure” that was ingrained in them during childhood. It can also come as a result of some traumatic and painful event as an adult. Either way, not making a good decision when in an emergency situation, regardless of the reason, can lead to catastrophe. And catastrophes tend to present themselves very quickly during disasters and emergencies.
So I maintain that making any good decision quickly is better than making the best decision slowly. And obviously both “good” and “best” decisions are far better than making a bad decision regardless of how fast a person does so. Why not make the “best decision” rather than a good decision?
It has to do with speed. If you can make the best decision just as fast as you can pick a good decision from a list of options, then fine, go for it!
The OODA Loop concept says to act before your adversary can act or react. Then do that repeatedly enough times to gain the tactical advantage and you will be successful.
Example 1: You get word a hurricane will strike your area in 4 days. You have plenty of time, you are not worried. Your plan is on night 3 you will pack your truck and pull out the morning of day 4, 12 hours ahead of the storm. Then the storm picks up speed and changes direction during the night of day 2 and strikes your area about mid-morning day 3. Yeah, didn’t work out so well. So the decision should have been to immediately fill up with gas, get a spare 5-gal can ready, load the truck and have it ready to go BEFORE the mid-day of day 2. You get inside the hurricane’s action loop.
Example 2: It is grid-down and there are sophisticated gangs gangs raiding homes in a very organized home invasion method; they are even using flash bangs and perform raids at 4am. But you are prepared, you have cameras located around your property, you get up each morning at 3am for a property check and you have a couple of big dogs. The dogs bark, you glance at the computer screen and see them coming. While they are lining up outside your front door ready to toss in flash bang to disorient you (to get inside your action loop and slow you down) you toss out your own flash bang at them. It goes off and you start shooting through the walls of your home into their group. Now who has the advantage? You got inside their action loop by doing something they didn’t expect. It takes for them to reorient and figure out what happened to them. Next they then try to react to it. I hope that by then you have won and the bad guys are dealt with.
When you don’t make a decision, or make a decision too slowly, you will probably be defeated. The more often you suffer defeat the more physically worn out and mentally depressed you and your family will get. The more that occurs the more likely you will suffer defeat again and again. Eventually you will be defeated once too many times and you become a fatality.
Once your SA is in-place and it is decision time – then make the decision. No one is asking you to be perfect or make the absolute best decision. But you must make a good decision and the quicker you do, the more your chances of victory increase, and increase exponentially.
There is a reason why “fight or flight” is discussed to many times for so many situations in stressful situations. It is an easy choice to make and implement; you fight it out or you run away. Either way you stand a very good chance at remaining unharmed. The choice is a simply one. If you are going to fight then you go all out and get it done fast and with maximum effort and effect. If you are going to take flight (a.k.a. run) then run like your life depends on it – it probably does.
So how much time do you take to make a decision? Well, remember we are talking in emergencies, disasters and “grid-down” so that makes a huge difference. In normal daily life fast decision making is not required and can lead to making big mistakes. But we are not talking daily life, we are talking situations where your life, or that of your family, may depend on you. So the time-frame of making decisions must be collapsed considerably.
Remember the military tactic of a “surprise attack” or the “element of surprise” that are often talked about in reference to military and law enforcement tactics? Those tactics work!
You gather just enough of accurate and appropriate information to make a good decision. Then do it – make that decision. Then you go back to your SA. Is that decision working? If yes, keep doing it till you gain enough additional SA to make a better decision. If that decision is not working (a.k.a. failing) that use your newly acquired SA to make a better decision and quick.
I hope this has helped you understand making decisions during emergencies and disasters. In my next post I will go over taking action based on the decisions you make. Look for SURVIVING ANY DISASTERS: Part 8 – Taking Action
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