Good reason to carry a gun and a knife

. . . In case some guy goes into an icy river with three kids in his car, including one still strapped into a car-seat. Chris Willden, a former cop from a family full of cops, military, and EMTs, shot out one of the windows, cut loose the car-seat, and got all three kids out of the car. Two weren't breathing any more, but bystanders got them going again with CPR, and all are now recovering from hypothermia. Way to go, Chris.

Speaking of being the sort of fellow people would like to have around in an emergency, I've just finished "Extreme Fear," written by the guy who inspired my recent post about the inexplicable Air France disaster. It contains the perfect antidote story: an aerobatics expert whose right wing strut buckled during a strenuous stunt. With seconds to live, he remembered a pilot who popped a damaged wing back into place by flying upside down, so he flipped over. Then his engine cut out. Still flying upside down at low altitude, he coolly carried out the checklist for starting the engine back up. Next he considered whether to land upside-down in the water or in some trees, and instead lit on the idea of flipping his plane back over at the last second and landing on solid ground before the wing could buckle again. He walked away.

Definitely not the deer-in-the-headlights sort. Kudos to those who can keep their heads in situations where I'd be thinking about as clearly as the average lizard.


Grim said...

Our brothers at the BSBFBs had another example of coolness under fire recently. This one is a Chinese DI whose soldier didn't throw his hand grenade very well...

bthun said...

Back in the '50's pappy taught me that a gentleman never leaves the house without, at minimum, a handkerchief and a good knife. Since reaching the age of majority, I've added a firearm, or two, an adequately stocked pickup truck, a mountain bike equipped with a rifle rack, or a good horse to my list. =;^}

I'd speculate that folks who are confronted with danger often enough, and survive the confrontation, progress past the OH $#!+ ! reflex to adopt the now what should I do approach.

In what now seems like an age rapidly receding in the mist, adventurous young boys used to make this shift in response just by being adventurous young boys. Back in the days when Dads taught boys how to be boys and turned em out, unsupervised, with all the devices young boys used to have at their disposal. At least until mom made everyone muster on station for the evening meal.

Whoops! That recollection reminds me to take my anti-curmudgeon supplement with my lunch.

I can only shake my head at the grenade chucker.

Texan99 said...

Part of the book was about the habituation to danger that helps people move past panic. In fact, the pilot in this story ended up dying in another plane crash; the author wondered whether he'd so habituated himself to fear that he couldn't help pushing the boundaries too far. But certainly part of what enabled the pilot to think clearly and creatively in a dire emergency was long years of dangerous aerobatic practice. What was so amazing was not that he carried out a trained drill, which we might all hope for with enough practice, but that he could quickly think of a couple of unconventional solutions under that kind of pressure.

The author talks about hind-brain and fore-brain thinking, the former being what takes over in an extreme emergency. He analogized it to the brain process that lets a crossword puzzle solution pop into your head when you relax and stop trying consciously. I'm very familiar with the act of slipping my conscious mind out of gear in order to find an elusive crossword answer; it's not too hard to do and improves dramatically with practice. But I need to be relaxed and unthreatened to do it! I suppose it's something like the "test anxiety" that robs some people of brain cells just when they're needed. Or, more familiar to me in the legal world, the difficulty of thinking clearly when called upon to give a speech. I rise to the occasion when people are arguing with me and firing hostile questions at me, but do horribly when they're just listening passively and I can imagine them bored or unmoved.

BillT said...

...the difficulty of thinking clearly when called upon to give a speech.

An Air Force LTC once asked to borrow my notes after he sat in on a one-hour class on autorotational aerodynamics I was volunteered to teach *right now*.

"Ummmm. Notes?"