Being mentally prepared for emergencies

Being mentally prepared for emergencies

We all come to work prepared for the task at hand, but Leighton Bennett, director of the Safety First Association, asks if we come ready for emergencies?

Would you know what to do if an emergency occurred while you were on the job? Do you know what actions to take if a co-worker is seriously injured, a fire ignited, or a structure collapses? Are you prepared to react?

Emergencies and disasters are a reality of everyday life. Local and international news programmes document such occurrences every day throughout the world. Too many lives are lost and property is damaged, because no one is prepared to react properly when immediate decisions and actions count …

A good start in learning how to respond to an emergency is through training course certification in Basic First Aid and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). These courses teach important skills. But even more important than the first aid skills gained, they teach how to respond to an emergency.

Programmes offered by organisations such as the Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance, and others, teach people about the kinds of situations or conditions that might precipitate an emergency. Knowing what to look for and how to react could save the life of a co-worker or a family member.

Your company should have an emergency action plan. Review it periodically, and be aware of what steps to follow when calling for emergency help. Know the course of action to take in likely emergencies at your workplace or specific facility. This will improve your safety awareness in everything you do.

Safety awareness may be gained through the company’s regular safety meetings, safety training or your own personal interest in safety and health. This awareness will increase your ability to respond if, some day in the future, you are a bystander in an emergency. This is particularly important if you work in a hazardous industry. You should be able to answer the following:

• Who do you notify in an emergency, and how?

• Are you prepared to react responsibly?

• Should you stay with the injured person or run for help?

• If you do not have first aid training, do you know who in your team, or the company, does?

• Does the emergency scene need to be secured?

• Do you know the chain of command? Who’s in charge during an emergency?

You come to work every day prepared for the job at hand, knowledgeable on how to handle production problems in the workplace. Being mentally aware is also your best preparation for a potential emergency:

• Analyse beforehand what to do if one of your co-workers is injured, and if that injury is life threatening.

• Know how to protect yourself, your co-workers and the company, in case of a serious chemical spill.

• Chances are, during a crisis, you won’t have much time to plan the best possible action – so make those decisions ahead of time. (For example: How to get out of your security guarded home during a fire?)

When an emergency does occur, it is your responsibility to be mentally ready.

Also at home …

• Who at home knows what to do during an emergency?

• Is there some basic first-aid equipment at home or in the car?

• Are the emergency numbers displayed at home?

• Should you have a smoke detector and/or a fire extinguisher at home?

• Do you and the other occupants know how to use a fire extinguisher (for example, the PASS rule: Pull the pin, Aim at the fire base, Squeeze the discharge handle, and Sweep from side to side to cover the fire area)? 

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