Sometimes things happen and we get flustered. Your heart starts to race, you become unsure of what you need to do next, and sometimes your motor skills fail you. But try not to panic. That never helps.
When I deployed to Iraq, we first stopped in Kuwait. The process was to go to Kuwait for about ten days, get acclimated to the heat, finish up any last-minute training and admin stuff, and get transportation to where we would be doing our jobs. This time was also used for units to practice drills. The siren would blare followed by a voice stating that it was a drill. The voice would indicate which unit was to respond and everyone else would go about their business. Keep in mind we did not receive live rounds until it was time to move north. Only the security forces had live rounds at the transition base. One day at lunch the siren blared followed by a voice: “THIS IS NOT A DRILL. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” It was like kicking an ant pile watching some of the people leaving the dining facility. As I looked around, picked up my lunch tray, started to stand, a young soldier at my table got wide-eyed. I could hear it in her voice when she asked, “Oh my God, what do we do?” I simply answered, “I’m going to hide in the bunker, they didn’t give me any bullets yet.” I stayed calm and it had a calming effect on others.
Sometime after moving into Iraq and settling in at our base, I was pulling a shift at the Community House, a place for Service Members and civilians at the base to hang out, watch movies, read, or do whatever they wanted to do to relax. We had a camcorder set up for people to make videos to send home, most would read a book to their kids and send the DVD to them. At this base, every week, at the same time, they would test the sirens and alarms. If you were new to the base and not paying attention to the voice that followed the alarm, you might find yourself in a state of panic. On this day, there was a guy new to the base sitting in the back room making a video for his kids when the test sirens sounded. I was sitting at the desk out front paying no attention to the test and had even forgotten the guy was back there. He comes flying out of the room, falling all over himself coming around the corner, flailing his weapon, freaking out. “What do we do, where do we go? I gotta go get my helmet and vest!” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud a little. I assured him it was a normal test of the system. I wish I could have seen that video he was making, what his face looked like when the alarm sounded.
It’s easy to panic when something happens that you have no control over. It’s normal to be scared in situations that you think are potentially life threatening; either your life or others. But stay calm. Don’t panic. Be the person that helps someone else get out of the panic. Your attitude and responses to stress can be what makes a difference for the better or makes a situation worse. This lesson goes for most things in life, not just going to war.
Good day and God bless.