Subconscious decision making can undermine emergency preparedness efforts. In fact, research reveals that every person makes tens of thousands of decisions each and every day, many of which are subconscious. So, it stands to reason that, no matter how well trained employees are when it comes to emergency situations, subconscious decision making could cloud the picture. For more details on how the subconscious mind works, click here.
Of course, this is not Earth-shattering news. I think it’s fairly common knowledge at this point that our subconscious mind is as powerful as it is mysterious. But the reality that the subconscious mind influences decision-making during emergency situations begs the question – how does this impact emergency preparedness? Well, the answer, in my opinion, is that the impact cannot be quantified and therefore the presence of the subconscious mind should have no impact on how training, exercises and drills are developed and structured within the utility industry.
The only thing we can do is to ensure emergency plans and process documentation are as up-to-date and polished as possible. Similarly, documentation must be as easy to follow as possible, as information overload and/or stress is the enemy of conscious-based decisions. Finally, I think it’s critical to conduct emergency training, exercises and drills as often as possible – ideally, several times a year, but at least once every year. This frequency might seem overboard to some, but, much like Pavlov’s Dog, repetition will help breed the desired subconscious behavior…at least some of the time!