During a crisis, our ability to decide is impaired. A crisis can be an event such as the death of a loved one, stressful times, or unexpected disasters. As these situations can happen at any time, so be prepared so you can make a decision during a crisis, or at least know how to handle the situation.

emergency roll mocking an emergency situationdecision making in crisis
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A hurricane or flood will dampen your ability to make proper decisions. In a national crisis like this, the best advice is to follow the instructions. If you live in a natural disaster-prone area, you should be aware of procedures and policies that apply in emergencies. Drills and training should not be taken lightly, as they prepare you to make the right decisions for your safety.

The guidance is different in a situation of grief or loss. When you encounter a situation of extreme sadness or the loss of a loved one, you pass into the "five stages of grief," according to Elizabeth Kübler Ross' model[1]. During these stages, how to make decisions should differ. The first three stages are:

Stage 1: Shock and denial

Stage 2: Anger

Stage 3: Depression and detachment

During these three stages, you should avoid making any decisions, and delegate urgent matters to trusted family and friends. The next stage is:

Stage 4: Dialogue and bargaining

In this stage, you will start to accept to explore alternatives and listen to people's advice.

Stage 5: Acceptance

In this stage, you have accepted the loss and will start to have a new purpose and meaning, and you can start making big decisions again.

However, for other stressful situations, you should always seek help. For example, a surgeon should never perform surgery without an assistant. When a massive bleed happens during an operation, the assistant's role cannot be more critical. Under extreme stress, the decision-making process of the primary surgeon and the assistant is maybe entirely halted. Only another, a third surgeon on call, will be able to stop the bleeding and save the patient. Likewise, in stressful situations, consult your family and friends and always have emergency contact details available to hand when needed.

What are your plans or policies in emergencies?

[1] Kübler-Ross E, Kessler D. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Scribner, 2005.