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As a writer who has covered the airline industry for years, I've often been struck by the coolness and aplomb displayed by pilots in emergencies. But after talking with experts in other high-pressure fields, I've learnt that there are certain techniques anyone can use in times of trouble. They may not help you to triumph over adversity but at least to push the odds greatly in your favor.

The first maxim is hope for the best but prepare for the worst. From the words of an experienced firefighter, "People who have prepared for a fire are much more likely to survive than those who haven't." Planning for a crisis can be as simple as updating an insurance policy or imagining what you would do if the car head of you suddenly stopped. Just considering worst-case scenarios puts you mentally on your toes and that's three-quarters of the battle in mastering a crisis.

We have all heard the saying "Don't just stand there. Do something !" But experts contend that in a crisis the better advice may be "Don't just do something stand there !" Acting without thinking is considered a reflexive response. What one should do is to think first. No disaster is so dire that you don't have time to look and think before taking action.

When you do act, act aggressively. Too often, people respond to crisis by exerting the least amount of effort deemed necessary to do the job. They do that in the hope the problem will go away, which of course, it rarely does. Acting forcefully does not contradict the principle of hesitating before acting. Confronting a crisis, says an expert, is a little like entering traffic on a fast-moving highway. You have to stop and look, but once you've decided to move, push that accelerator.

Just as police are trained to call for backup during emergencies, so the rest of us should guard against acting entirely on our own if help is available. According to an experienced firefighter, one should call for help first, and then try to handle the situation. Even when the crisis is psychological or emotional, recovery can't begin until the person asks for help. Those who go it alone may be in for a very rough time.

Do not get locked on a detail. In emergency departments, team leaders learn not to get overly involved with individual medical procedures that might prevent them from supervising others. It's important that someone stand back and keep the whole situation in view. Otherwise the patient's life can slip away unnoticed. Said an experienced pilot who successfully brought a troubled plane down, "We had so many things going wrong: rapid depressurization, engine failure, conflicting hydraulic and flight-control indications and landing-gear worries. But we knew that our top priority was landing. In accomplishing our many emergency procedures, we did not allow ourselves to get preoccupied with any one of them. We did not lose sight of 'the big picture'."

Finally, no matter how bad things get, be truthful. When a crisis is of our own making, the temptation may be to lie or cover up. That is not only unethical, it is bad arithmetic. When something goes wrong, you have got one problem. When you try to cover it up, you have got two. Besides, if people unearth the truth, the lie will likely haunt you far more than your original error.

From paragraph 1 :
  1.

(a) What does the writer mean by 'other high-pressure fields' ?

(b) What has he learnt from them ?

   

From paragraph 2 :

  2.

(a) What is meant by the maxim 'hope for the best but prepare for the worst' ?

(b) How does it help one when faced with a crisis ?

    From paragraph 3 :
  3.

Explain why the writer advocates 'Don't just do something -- stand there !' when faced with an emergency.

    From paragraph 4 :
  4.

Why does the writer stress that one should respond to a crisis 'aggressively' ?

    From paragraph 6 and 7 :
  5.

(a) What is meant by 'Do not get locked on a detail' ?

(b) Explain why one shouldn't get 'locked on a detail' when faced with a crisis.

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Answers
 

1.

(a) He means occupations that demand quick thinking and expert handling in case of emergencies.

(b) He has learnt about certain techniques that can be used in times of trouble.

 

2.

(a) One should of course hope to be successful in dealing with emergencies but at the same time, be ready for failure or any disaster.

(b) It helps by putting a person mentally prepared for worst-case scenarios.

 

3.

He does not want someone to act hastily without thinking. He feels that it is better for someone to take stock of the situation before any action.

 

4.

He feels that after thinking, one should not hesitate to act. when he acts, he should do it forcefully with full effort and commitment.

 

5.

(a) It means one should not be too engrossed with every detail when dealing with an emergency.

(b) It is because when bogged down with detail, one may not be able to see the bigger picture, thus failing to accomplish what one set out to do in a crisis.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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