In a crisis, someone has to decide what to do. Even if you’re scared, you still have to decide. Even if you have no reliable information, you still have to decide. You may also have to reassure others that your decisions are sound.
Explore options for making decisions under pressure, with a range of activities based around dramatic wildfire evacuations from Alberta, Canada.
By the end of this activity young people will be able to:
- Describe how they might reassure a young child or older relative during the uncertainties of an emergency.
- Assess and rank techniques designed to help someone stay relatively calm while making decisions in a crisis.
- Discuss ways of being prepared for, coping with, or staying safe in a crisis.
Say to the group that they are about to see a photograph of a family getting ready for a journey. What is the first word that comes to mind when they see the photo?
Discuss the responses. Were they words like tense, focused, unhappy or worried? It’s unlikely to be words like happy, excited or carefree. Why? Look again and say what elements contribute to the feeling of the picture.
During discussion, explain where the picture was taken. The man, Justin Anderson, is packing his three children and their dog into a vehicle ready to leave a camping lodge in Conklin, Alberta, Canada. They moved there after evacuating their home because of wildfires.
Discuss what young people have heard of the wildfires around the Fort McMurray area in Canada. Explain that in Fort McMurray 80,000 people – the entire population of the city – were evacuated.
Look again at the photograph. The adult has lots of practical tasks to do. He’ll also be wanting to keep his children happy and occupied and limit their worries about the drama happening around them. List practical things he might do to keep the children content.
Note the dog. It needs looking after but might be a useful distraction or comfort for the children. Ask young people — “for a family evacuating, would having a pet to consider be a good or bad thing and why?”
Encourage them to consider the question for different scenarios e.g. evacuating because of a flood or fire and discuss how the different contexts might cause them to change their answers.
"What are we going to do?"
Another man, Jason Blair, who also evacuated with his family, was interviewed about his experience by a journalist with CBC News Ottawa.
The journalist suggested that Jason must have been terrified during the evacuation. “I was trying not to be terrified”, he replied.
What personal techniques for trying not to be terrified or upset do young people have. Share ideas.
The journalist went on to ask about emotions.
This resource was written by PJ White of Alt62 and published in May 2016.
The sound extracts in this resource are used for educational reference only. Both sound extracts are the copyright of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.