Friday, January 16, 2009

Plane Down, All Safe

Unlike many, yesterday, I came home not knowing what had happened on the Hudson River. I turned on the television and immediately, I stood immobile. How could anyone have survived this, you think? Oh yeah they could. In New York. the experience with 9-11 have given people an awareness of what is happening with aircraft. It isn't suprising that so many saw that plane as it descended into the river. New Yorkers knew since 9-11for outside help may not be available. Disasters are disruptive and so help may not be able to get to the site from the outside.

The Hudson River is a site of constant traffic. They may have been several or near disasters as a result. Experience and knowledge garnered over the years have bequeathed operators with the ability to respond. Their training and experience of these ferry crew and their knowledge of hyperthemia has taught them to spring into action. The immediacy of the response averted what could have been fatality by another cause. Consequently, the response was all local and it goes to the heart of effective response during disasters. Not to be forgotten are the skills and composure of the captain and crew - the captain's experience as a former figher pilot, a glider instructor, forty (40) years of flying and the owner of safety consultant firm.

This is a classical example of how disaster response works and it works because all of those involved have disaster built into their daily operation - not something that happen to their operations but something integral to their operations. Chris Argyris noted that people learn when they do what they say they know. On the Hundson River, everyone seems to have done what they knew and it worked. What worked as well was the cooperation among strangers and the calmness of those involved. That is learning and this is how we begin to build resilience.