I haven’t been writing lately, instead I have been sitting on my balcony staring at the sky in the evenings wondering how I survived the last year, it was mostly shit, and after sudden move things are ok, mostly (I did accidentally open porn on my phone at my new job that one time, and I also had a nightmare where Ray Liotta was drilling holes in glass).
But today things got a little heavy, one of my new work friends at my new job went to a meeting and instead of talking in circles for an hour she decided to make a statement by having a massive, potentially fatal, medical emergency.
I get it, it’s hard to be a woman in our industry but she found a way to make people people sit up and pay attention today. For that I give her props, and I hope she survives to bask in the glory of her efforts*.
But today’s events caused a stir that I think needs addressing with corporate meetings and demonstrations and follow-up meetings, and perhaps a committee vote. The entire building full of people panicked, instead of helping they gawked.
Emergencies are hard, and as silly as it sounds the only way to handle them well is to practice. I suggest you take the initiative, plan the emergency, plan the response, and stop the gawking. As is my way, suggestions for how to do this can be found below.
- Make reference cards– this is standard in bank robbery training, you get note cards and put specific tasks on them, you list the tasks in order of importance and make the tasks compatible, bitch you can’t call 911 while also locking the door, and watching for a getaway vehicle, so don’t put those all on one card. Thought: heart attacks don’t have getaway vehicles… anyhow, one person calls 911, one person calls the boss, a third wrangles the ladies with the good candy who are weeping in distress. If you have enough calm people someone should hang out with the person causing the ruckus, if everyone is wailing and gnashing their teeth, wait for the boss to show up. Put this on the cards, in detail, and number the cards.
- Post emergency numbers in visible places. People aren’t good in an emergency, their brains turn to soup, so you have to have resources readily available. Post emergency phone numbers on every phone, starting with 911 and then maybe poison control (Dan is always putting office supplies in his mouth, it could come in handy), maybe CDC, and cap it with something lighter like Dominos or a local cake shop that delivers.
- Share details that may save your life later– we all know where there is a peanut allergy in the room, shouldn’t it be like that with all of our conditions? Start by setting an example, send a company wide email explaining what all your pre-existing conditions, the medications you take (with dosage people!), allergies, recreational drugs you use (again, dosage matters), and, if it’s relevant, the start date of your last menstrual period. Encourage your coworkers to be just as forthright and update everyone whenever anything changes. It could save your life (or theirs).
- Practice- if you’ve ever certified in CPR you know that you resuscitate Annie until your hands are bruised and your shoulders ache. You need to do it 100 times to make it fluid and 1000 more time to make it automatic. Try to make it fun, role play, have different people play distressed in various funny way, maybe the CEO breaks his penis when he was caught banging the janitor, or maybe Jeff in IT finally punched Karen in the nose for Karen’s bullshit, whatever, the scenarios don’t matter as much as the repetition. Hand out your cards and go over it, then go over it again, and again. Once you think they’ve got it, do it again. Then, on the day of a board or a shareholder meeting surprise everyone with a scenario, lay on the floor of the crying room and wait to be found, then critique their response and the EMTs scowl at you for not being in serious crisis. (That is if the EMTs make it, god forbid everyone climb into the elevator all together to make sure that those very same EMTs are shown to your side and and up getting stuck in it until the firefighters come).
- Wait– one day without warning you’re preparation, no matter how silly, will pay off because sometimes the seconds matter, and you showed up prepared.
*I’m aware that I have the emotional expression of an angry two year old, I am always accepting recommendations for a therapist.