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What Would You Do in a Threatening Situation?
There have been two news stories this week about the reaction of nearby humans to imminent threats. Through these stories, we can see that there are three possible responses to a crisis.
In case you missed one or both of these events, I have included two links below – but here are summaries of what happened:
First, there were the high-speed train travelers in France who subdued an attacker last Sunday. Based on the large amount of ammunition the attacker had, they are likely to have saved many lives. Initially, a Frenchman who tried to intervene was shoved to the ground and another was shot. Then, three young American men, two of them off-duty military, ran toward the attacker despite having no weapons. A British businessman joined their effort, even though he later confessed that his first instinct had been to hide. An off-duty train employee helped once the gunman had been subdued. Together, they were successful. Then one of the Americans, seriously injured himself, applied life-saving assistance to the shooting victim.
Second, there was a Sunday-afternoon driver in Louisiana who, after being warned that a state trooper had been fired on by a single gunman just ahead, drove straight to the danger zone. This may have surprised the men who warned him and were keeping their distance. Robert LeDoux looked nothing like the young and highly muscled soldiers on the train. But, much like the train heroes, this everyman ran headlong at the attacker, who was trying to get control of the trooper’s gun after leaving his own weapon out of reach in the chaos. When the observers saw Robert tackle the gunman, they hurried to assist. Together, the group subdued the man, rendered any aid they could to the victim (who later died) and called for help on the trooper’s radio.
What types of responses were there to these desperate situations where help was clearly needed?
People saw a crisis, believed they could help, and stepped up. Quickly. A nearby Frenchman attacked the gunman, but was unsuccessful – as was the man who was shot. One of the young Americans saw a gun on the train and his military training kicked in. He awakened his buddy and signaled for him to act. The Louisiana local saw danger and headed straight for the action – hoping to save a state trooper in trouble.
People surveyed the situation. They saw others act. They were inspired and believed that they, too, could help. As a result, they acted. The British traveler and a trainman aided the Americans. The observers on the side of the road rushed to help Robert subdue the shooter until help arrived.
There were people on the train who did not act. Some people freeze when they are afraid. The mind can go blank. Perhaps they hid. I am not saying that I blame them or that I know I would have acted differently.
What would happen if no one had acted in these two crises?
“In times of crisis like that, the lesson would be to do something. Hiding or sitting back is not going to accomplish anything and the gunmen [sic] would have been successful if Alek and Spencer had not gotten up. The lesson to be learnt is in times of terror, to please do something – don’t just stand by and watch.” Anthony Sandler, American student, friend of the servicemen & participant.
What would you have done? Are you satisfied with your answer?
Until we meet again,
The Entrepreneur’s Friend
These links give fairly complete details of the events: