Hey! Randy

Are You a Member?

Posted by heyrandy on July 22, 2009

The Survivors Club, Ben Sherwood, Grand Central Publication, 2009.  373p., index

Will you survive in an emergency?  What will you do?  Ben Sherwood explores the world of survivors.  Drawing from the experiences of survivors of such desperate situations  as the Nazi death camps and air plane crashes, the author seeks to know why some people survive and others don’t.

The reason some survive while others in the same situation in not the result of any one factor.  Dumb luck plays only a minor role in determining who survives.  Other more tangible factors are the key.  Most of these factors are under human control.

Survivors have many thing in common.  Regardless of the situation, those who survive disasters are those people who want to survive.  It is a odd fact that many people who could survive do not because they do not try to survive.  Sherwood cites a London, England subway fire in which many died because they did not simply walk out of the underground station.  Even more amazing, many people walked into the station despite the obvious smoke and fumes.

It is this kind of crazy behavior that Sherwood explains.  Not everyone can survive even if they did everything right. Some situations are hopeless for some people.  What can be done to improve the odds of survival is done by survivors.

A telling example related by Sherwood is that of a survival expert on a plane trip.  When seated, the man looked beneath his seat for the life preserver that was supposed to be there.  It was missing.  The man called the flight attendant, and she got him one.  The man suggested to the woman in the next seat that she check for hers.  She refused.  The attitude is that plane crashes are not survivable, so why bother?  She was not a member of the club.

Anyone who has flown on commercial airlines knows the emergency procedure demonstrations put on by the flight crew.  One also knows that most of the passengers ignore the demonstration.  Survivor club members do not ignore anything.  They pay attention and have a plan.  They know where all the exits are.  They have a greater chance to be part of the the 95% of airline passengers who do survive an airplane crash than do the inattentive.

Sherwood divides those who experience a disaster into a 10-80-10 percentage groupings.  The first are the 10% who know what to do and do it.  These are the key survivors.  The 80% are most of us, like the author, who don’t know what to do, have no plan, and tend to freeze in an emergency.  This is not necessarily a fatal condition if it does not continue.  People do overcome this.

The last 10% are the dangerous ones.  They panic and often make the situation  worse.  These people seldom survive and frequently prevent others from surviving.

The book offers a web site where you can go to take a test to see which of the five survivor types you are and how  many of the twelve survivor skills you have.  You need the code number from the book jacket, so us library borrowers are out of luck.  This is OK because luck has little to do with survival.

Why did I list the author in the 80% grouping?  He relates a incident that happened at his house when he was almost done writing the book.  At 2:30 am the house burglar alarm went off, waking the author and his wife.  They froze.  Overcoming this they called the alarm company.  They had to look up the number in the phone book.  The alarm company did not call them because the alarm company had the wrong contact information.  The alarm company  told them to lock themselves in their room.  Sherwood insisted the alarm company send the police.  Sherwood does not say why he did not call the police.  It turns out that all was well.  It seems that the kitchen door was not properly shut, and the wind blew it open.

I appreciate the author’s honesty.  He was not a club member, but what about you?


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