In any emergency, if we can, we should stop and think.
But in some emergencies, there is no time. So we rely on instinct.
The problem is that instinct is designed to save the species, not necessarily the individual.
That's why the first time I know one of my goats is sick, its because they have separated themselves from the herd. That protects the herd but puts the goat at great risk from wild dogs. It's also why many divers who have died in a diving accident are found without their regulators in their mouths.
Instinct tells us that if we are having trouble breathing to remove things from our mouth. Usually a good idea, but in these cases, a disaster.
The adrenaline and cortisol response from acute stress also sharpens our response by allowing us to focus solely on one thing...our instinct. But if our instinct saves the species rather than the individual...
So the answer is to practice and train.
That inserts what we call "emotional bookmarks"
Emotional bookmarks mean that we can bend the instinct to be useful in a situation without thinking. Because we have done it time and time again.
That's why Ben Logan, Bel Jones and Charles Griffith and I spent our weekend in Christchurch teaching 3 large groups of enthusiastic people how to train for emergencies. We covered practical emergency first aid specific to earthquakes, the survival mindset (who makes it in an emergency and who doesn't) and resilience training. We have learnt from the recent asthma deaths in Melbourne that in a large emergency, assistance may be delayed.
Train and practice.
Be the hardest working person in the room,
Never give up.
Adapt and survive.
You are NEVER out of the fight.