EVACUATION! Understanding Behavioral Aspects of Emergency Response in Individuals David R. Blossom, ALCM, CFPS, CIF1 Sr. Consultant—Amerisure PCG
Why This Topic? • Revelation—Challenged • “I think that when people die in fires it’s not because of panic, it’s more likely to be the lack of panic” • Neil Townsend • Divisional Fire Officer • London Fire Brigade
Why This Topic? • We must understand how people react. • This will allow us to— Anticipate challenges Conduct Effective Planning Avoid evacuation problems Provide effective training Save more lives
Incident Perception • Recognition • Validation • Definition • Evaluation • Commitment • Reassessment
RECOGNITION • Identification of cues • Elements of notification • How we first become aware • Prior personal experience a factor • Threat recognition • Often cues must be overwhelming
Event Recognition • Event recognition • Different recognition/same event • Different response/same recognition • Key elements • Individualized Factors
VALIDATION • Validate the initial cues • Ambiguity = more information • More information = delay in response • Reassurance of the situation • Action not taken yet--confirmation
DEFINITION • Relating information to the individual • Just what are we experiencing • Correct identification of the incident • Proximity and magnitude • Lack of definition = increased stress • Personalization of the threat • Most stress before definition occurs • Structure and interpretation to define
EVALUATION • Understanding the situation • Necessary to develop response • Development of strategies • Initial decision making • Putting it all together • Formulating a response • Initiating response
COMMITMENT • Initiate the behavioral response • Formulated in the evaluation process • Results in the active response • To a perceived threat • Results: completion, partial completion, non-completion of response strategy.
NON-COMPLETION RESULTS • Reassessment • Commitment
REASSESSMENT • Most stressful • Failure of previous attempts • Increased intensity • Less selective response
SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME • Commitment / Reassessment • Rapid decrease in anxiety • Reassurance
SUCCESSIVE FAILURES • Increased anxiety • Frustration • Probability of success decreases • Increased potential for panic • Alternatives decrease • Less responsive • More reactive
PANIC • Is Panic bad? • What is Panic? • What causes Panic? • Is Panic Good?
PANIC BEHAVIOR A fear-induced flight behavior which is non-rational, non-adaptive, and nonsocial, which serves to reduce the escape possibilities of the group as a whole. Flight or fleeing behavioral response that also involves extravagant and injudicious effort.
NONADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR • Panic Behavior • Reentry Behavior • Rescue
EVIDENCE SUPPORTS THIS • Multiple studies • Panic often not a factor • Should have been • Understanding
FIRE STUDY RESULTS • Panic is very rare • Central motivation—seek information • Often a social response • Problems encountered during “normal” building use will be exacerbated during an emergency.
REALITY—WHAT WE DO • Investigate conditions • Compare with experiences • Decide on action(s) • NOT “code” related • Familiar entry routes most often selected
We’re Only Human • “You must think about people’s reactions to a fire in terms of the three basic stages of making sense of what’s going on, preparing to act and then acting” David Carter Professor, Liverpool University