If there’s a statute of limitations on rebuttals, I am surely pushing it.
Register Star blogger Kris Kieper posted an item Sept. 19, “Thank goodness I flew and now know how to work a seatbelt.” I thought some of Kris’ points were legitimate. Who among us has not been irritated by the umpteenth instruction from disinterested flight attendants about how to lift the latch to release the belt and how to get it snug around our waist?
But I remembered a couple of books I read on safety and have to disagree.
Turns out the best way to survive a disaster is to pay attention to all that boring stuff. Believe it or not, such insanely simple things like knowing where the exits are and how the oxygen masks work make a difference whether you live or die.
You might think such actions would be automatic in a crisis, but they are not, according to “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes — and Why,” by Amanda Ripley.
Ripley is a longtime Time magazine contributor who describes what happens in your brain and in your body when the pressure is turned up to max, like during a disaster. I won’t give her book away, but the message I walked away with was: Listen to the flight attendants, or at least memorize where the exits are.
The other book was “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande. Gawande, a surgeon, also looks at safety. Certain industries, like the airlines, have been meticulous in responding to mistakes and correcting them with new protocol. Other industries, not so much. Americans tend to have a disdain for check-off lists in their daily work.
We think we’re too smart, too creative, too busy. Some surgeons, for example, think it’s idiotic to have everyone on a surgical team introduce themselves to each other before they cut. But it works in curbing mistakes and reducing post-surgical infections.
In my profession, too, the same errors happen over and over again. We get names wrong, dates wrong, numbers wrong. A group of colleagues at the Register Star studied the errors and came up with suggestions to prevent them.
A staffer forwarded the document to me, but I haven’t read it. I’m too smart, too creative, too busy. For shame. We could all use a checklist — and a little more attention when we are on the tarmac.