Duck and Cover Analogy

images-6If you need a good chuckle, just take a look back at the U.S. government’s “Duck and Cover” campaigns of the 1950’s.  Obviously, in the event of a nuclear attack, the wisest course of action is to hide under your desk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKqXu-5jw60

You might make the argument, “Well, back then, we just didn’t know any better.  People, society, the world… it was simply a different time.”  There was an understandable, pervasive naivete.  Think about it.  In those days, the biggest problems in the classroom were fidgeting, chewing gum, cheating and truancy.  These days we’re concerned about bullying, teen pregnancy, sexual assault and gun violence.  It appears that society has “grown up” and is more willing to acknowledge its shortcomings.  Nowadays, we confront the difficult issues directly.  Because we have no choice.

I disagree.  As it pertains to emergency bomb threat evacuation protocol, the duck and cover ideology is alive and well in 2013.  It’s governed by a singular, all-encompassing assumption… that every bomb threat will be properly phoned in to a central authorized location.  So it can be dealt with in a way that is appropriate, efficient and orderly.

At face value, this appears to be a fine plan.  But there’s one critical, overlooked component.  And the dilemma is painfully obvious.  Nearly everyone in the stadium has an active cell phone.  This makes every stadium attendee individually susceptible to panic-laden information.  Current emergency evacuation protocol does not take into account this inherently evident, irrevocably altered dynamic.

Sixty years later, we’re dealing with the same “duck and cover” problem all over again.  There exists a societal intransigence, an unwillingness to discuss the undiscussable.  Anyway you look at it, the prospect of an artificially generated stampede is a very generic idea.  Instead of a single threat, there’s a myriad of threats.  It’s really that simple.

Since mitigation is a futile real-time strategy, there would appear only two options.

  • Do nothing and remain at risk.
  • Acknowledge the compromised state of emergency evacuation protocol and address the matter head on.

If you really think about it, at least “duck and cover” was a demonstrable course of action.  Back then, at least our government made a feeble attempt to address the matter.  What we’re currently faced with is a protracted state of dangerous inaction, rising to a blatant level of moral, and possibly criminal, negligence.