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"Hero Training" - Elf M. Sternberg
"Hero Training"
Omaha and I were at the airport to pick up Kouryou-chan, who was returning from Rome on an intercontinental flight with her friends. We were looking forward to seeing just how exhausted she was. The airport was crowded, especially the space we were in, with gleaming escalators leading up from the bowels of customs to the reception level, and then across the platform ascending further to the promised release of taxis and parking. There were at least a hundred people standing around.

A woman fell down the escalator leading up. The escalator, fortunately, detected the sudden emergent shift in weight and froze, an alarm buzzer ringing loudly. To her enormous luck, she landed on her luggage rather than the sharp edges of the escalator itself, but she was upside-down and pinned down by the awkwardness of the position and her own substantial weight.

I ran toward the crisis. I was one of only two who did.

She insisted she was unhurt. She was extremely grateful for our help, and I ended up carrying her luggage up the escalator as the other fellow helped her reach the top flight and the skyway to the parking garage.

When I was taking CPR classes, they called that "hero training," the knowledge that if you're fit and capable, you should always run toward the crisis. You're in a position to help. Hero training was little more than the awareness that most individuals will assume the problem belongs to other people. People will just stand around and seek out social affirmation that something should be done, that someone else will take care of the problem.

A lifetime of living of with someone with epilepsy has only reinforced this training. I only wish I could apply it toward my personal life.

Current Music: BabyMetal, Teasing Not Allowed

3 comments or Leave a comment
tagryn From: tagryn Date: March 5th, 2014 02:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Megan McArdle (in an article about Chris Christie) commented on a related phenomenon:

...Over and over again you see people who are clearly in crisis, but act as if nothing much is wrong. I started to think of it as watching a train wreck: You can see people heading for the cliff, but the engineer is smiling and they’re still serving cocktails in the cafe car.

Here’s the most amazing fact I learned: A surprising number of people survive plane crashes only to get hurt or die when they are on the ground. After a plane crash, it’s imperative to get off the plane as quickly as possible, because aviation fuel is highly flammable. But a lot of people just ... sit there. If you’ve ever watched a disaster movie, you’d assume that the biggest threat to a crash or a fire is people freaking out. But, in fact, often what you really need to worry about is not getting the hell out of Dodge fast enough.

It’s a phenomenon psychologists call “normalcy bias”: the tendency to act as if things are normal even when they are clearly not. This may well have some positive effects, like keeping us from completely going to pieces when things go wrong. But when things do go wrong, it means that we need to fight the temptation to act as if things are still all right
edichka2 From: edichka2 Date: March 7th, 2014 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Years ago, I went into a subway station in Moscow. Just as I got down to the platform area, near the front of the train, the doors of the train started to close. The trains come and go very quickly there, so I opted to wait for the next train.

As the doors slammed shut, I heard a plaintive cry of "Izvinitye!" ("Excuse me!") about 50 yards down, toward the tail end of the train. A little old man had fallen on the platform and gotten one leg stuck in the doors. The train started to pull out. Those trains accelerate very fast -- in seconds the train would be going 50 miles an hour, the old man would be smashed against the wall of the tunnel and his leg would be ripped off. His flailing body might take out several other people on the platform along the way.

I began screaming "STOP! STOP!" in Russian and I pounded on the outside of the train to try to get the driver's attention. The train went a few yards and stopped, and in the meantime two men successfully wrestled the old man's leg out of the door. The train immediately took off again.

But of the hundreds of people on the platform watching this happen, nobody else did a fucking thing. They just stared, mouth agape, at the unfolding tragedy, and then, when it was over, at me, for being so peculiar as to raise my voice and bang on the wall of a train.
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: March 8th, 2014 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
The escalator, fortunately, detected the sudden emergent shift in weight and froze

How interesting. I'd like to see the code for this - the detectable force must vary a lot in normal use and you really don't want to suddenly stop one in use without very good reason.
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