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How to Get Out of Something That Just Isn`t Working

How to Get Out of Something That Just Isn`t Working

Sometimes in car accidents, the vehicles involved become so entangled and crushed that people inside need to be extricated in order to be saved. Firefighters use the “jaws of life” along with many other tools to get the patients free, and as a volunteer firefighter, I have helped to do this several times. I have also been a volunteer at a Victim Support Unit, and I think there are some interesting parallels that can be drawn between being extricated from a smashed up car and extricating ourselves from abusive situations or other times when we feel trapped.

The first thing we do as firefighters when we arrive on a scene is size up the situation. We deploy signs to tell motorists that there is an emergency scene ahead. As we drive up, we assess the number and type of vehicles involved — the 9-1-1 calls are not always accurate — and immediately radio for additional resources if we can tell we will need more firefighters or ambulances on the scene. The next two people out of the truck do inner and outer surveys of the scene, looking for victims and checking for hazards that will affect the extrication. Everyone else gets the tools ready.

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Similarly, you will need to size up your situation. If you are in an abusive relationship, you will need to have a very good plan in place and you’ll need some other resources to leave safely. Contact your local police department, victim support unit or women’s centre so they can help you make a safety plan. There are a great deal of hazards in leaving an abuser, so do not take them lightly. If you are in an unbearable job situation — that is, you feel like you can’t leave but know you must — or considering another major life change, you may also need the support of family and friends. Do some research before changing careers or seek out a career counselor. Size up your money situation so you are clear on your expenses versus desired income. Make a plan for when/how you will leave, apply for other jobs or enroll in training courses. When making any major life change, planning always helps.

The next thing firefighters do is stabilize the vehicle the person is trapped in. This involves putting blocks under it, or using straps or jacks to make sure it won’t shift while we do our work. Similarly, you can take steps to stabilize your situation before you begin the actual extrication — save up some extra money if you can, think carefully about the best time to leave, and do anything else you can to prepare. You may want to talk to your doctor if you think your health might be affected by this big change.

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Now, we get to work.

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    The firefighter in charge will decide the best course of action to remove the vehicle from around the person. Then, as a team, we get the tools we need to implement that plan and start breaking glass, cutting, prying or bending metal. A firefighter or paramedic will usually get into the vehicle with the injured person and talk them through what is going on and reassure them that they will be out soon. The rest of us use the jaws of life, reciprocating saws, hydraulic, pneumatic and even hand tools to cut the vehicle so that the person can be removed as carefully and quickly as possible. We never rush this step (moving the person) unless it becomes a “life over limb” situation, such as the vehicle has caught fire or the person’s condition is deteriorating to critical.

    If your situation is serious, such as a violent, abusive relationship, you will not be able to extricate yourself, but you can call the right people to help you. They will know the steps to take. If you are not in any physical danger, such as the person who is changing jobs, then the next step is just do it! Take a deep breath and carry out your plan. Believe that it will all work out for the best!

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    Usually, once the trapped person is free, they are loaded into an ambulance and the medics take over. When you are extricated from your nasty situation, realize that you might need some “first aid” too. You might want to get some counseling. Be kind to yourself if you can tell you aren’t coping very well. Don’t make any other changes for a while and use stress management techniques — get enough sleep, drink enough water and eat fresh foods. Big changes take time to adjust to, so don’t expect it to be over instantly, especially if you’ve “been injured.”

    Lastly, forgive yourself for letting yourself get into the situation. Like an MVA, it was an accident. You didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did. Forgive yourself and the whole situation for being what it was — that will help you let go and move on more than any other “action” you can take.

    So, next time you are in a traffic jam wondering why all the traffic is stopped, remember, it could be a group of firefighters saving someone’s life up ahead. Rather than be annoyed, be grateful that we have people dedicated to the fire service. (In the US and Canada, 70% – 80% of firefighters are volunteer.)

    Featured photo credit: In to the fire, a Firefighter searches for possible survivors via Shutterstock and inline photo by Tom Bech via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Teresa Griffith

    Teresa is a passionate writer who shares about productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2020

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

    Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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    Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

    However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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    The leap happens when we realize two things:

    1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
    2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

    Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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    Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

    My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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    In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

    “Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

    Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

    More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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