In Light of Tragedy: Five Things to Remember in an Emergency

The Boston Marathon bombing should act as a reminder for us all to be prepared for emergency. I’ve put together a list of what I think are the most important things to keep in mind.

It’s not uncommon for writers to piggyback on tragedy to pass on what they feel is an important point. Well, not only am I no exception, but I’m going to pass on 5 points to you. I want to make them short and useful.

  1. Are you first aid ready?Seems like a simple question, but it bears asking. There is absolutely no reason for you to be unqualified at first aid. Let me ask you a question: If something terrible happened to you, wouldn’t you hope someone nearby could treat you in a medical emergency until professionals arrived?You could be the person offering help. You should know what you are doing. Here, let me make it easy for you. The classes are under $100, and you could literally save someone’s life one day.

    I know I sound a bit angry with this point, but it is incredibly important that you know how to act in an emergency situation. And on that note…

  2. The Bystander Effect and YouThe Bystander Effect is a psychological phenomenon where people are less likely to help when there are more people around, because we assume that “someone else will do something.” The problem is, if you don’t do something, there’s no guarantee anyone will. It’s roughly caused because people tend to distribute responsibility. It’s the same reason why, back in school, all group projects eventually ended up with most of the group playing around and one guy or girl doing all the work.In an emergency situation, you need to take action, quickly and calmly. Take personal responsibility. If you know first aid, use it. If you don’t ask for someone who does. Then get them to it. Don’t yell “Someone call 911!” Tell a specific person to do it, by name if you know it.Don’t let up til they do.

    Again, it starts with you.


  3. Continue to provide support after the dust settlesThe Red Cross often gets too much blood immediately following a disaster, but within a few weeks after the event the news cycle has mulled over the worst of things and people return to business as usual. This is when things can go bad. Like with Hurricane Sandy, some people were without shelter or electricity for a month after the storm, but public support for those fellow citizens dropped off within a couple weeks. Continue to keep an eye on things as the days and weeks go by. Look for ways you can support the victims after most people have gone on to worry about Dancing with the Stars.


  4. Be aware of scamsIn your rush to help, you’re likely considering donating to a charity or organization which can provide aid to the victims of the Boston Bombing. However, make certain that you’re donating to a legitimate organization. Within 10 minutes of the bombing, fraudulent charities were already bilking concerned citizens of their money through legitimate-looking websites and Facebook posts.My suggestion, if you want to donate, the first place to go is the Red Cross. Otherwise, look at news articles from major publications like Fox, CNN or MSNBC to see what they suggest.
  5. Listen to the feelings a tragedy brings youFollowing a major attack like this, people can gain a greater sense of connectedness with family, friends and even complete strangers. Our hearts reach out to people we’ve never met. Others may be victims of traumatic stress or depression when faced with questions of mortality brought on by such sudden carnage.If you know people who need support, be there for them, but don’t lose the opportunity to take care of yourself as well.

    This message is twofold: Firstly, if you feel yourself becoming depressed, talk to someone. Secondly, use an event like this to push yourself.

    We could die at any moment. Tell someone you love them. Give a friend a hug. Connect with people who aren’t as big a part of your life as you wish they were. Start the goal you’ve been putting off.

    When you are aware of your own mortality, it’s suddenly possibly to forget the dull roar of everyday life and remember the things that matter most to you. Don’t let that slip away easily. Seize the day.


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