Amanda Ripley’s book “The Unthinkable” provides insightful information on how people react to
danger and disasters and what makes people survive from disasters. The book reviews all the major
disasters in America and discusses how people managed to survive from these disasters from an
expert’s point of view. The book had a greater impact on how to respond to disasters and what
disaster management agencies need to know about human behavior during disasters.
What was more surprising in the book is the denial stage by people, which leaves them paralyzed
and unable to act in the middle of the disaster. The book confirmed the importance of training in
responding to and surviving from disaster situations. The book was insightful in understanding the
various reactions of people to disasters and the need for disaster agencies to know these reactions.
The book influenced how I should do during disasters in the future.
I have learned that disasters strike any time, and it is good to know about disasters that are likely
to occur and be ready to confront the disasters when they hit. What I would urge people or the
loved one is to get training on disaster response to present situations where one is left in the state
of denial. I believe that training on disaster response will equip one with the right skills and attitude
to respond in a manner that increases the chances of survival. The book highlights what actually
goes on in the minds of people when disaster strikes, we often change our behavior and act
irrationally. It is surprising.
Journalist Amanda Ripley’s book, “The Unthinkable: Who survives when disaster strikes and
why” provides great lessons that should be known during disasters. The book positively impacted
me where I gathered powerful survival lessons and skills through the survivors who had survived
various disasters like hostages, fires, plane crash and the 9/11 bomb among other disasters
(Ripley, 2008).What was surprising is that panic is the worst thing that a person can do while faced
with a disaster. Panic can be said to be anxiety at the highest level. During a panic, one loses the
sense and the reality of the situation. Many deaths in a fatal or small accident happen when the
people involved panic. Those who have high daily anxiety panic more when faced with a minor or
major disaster, and this leads them not taking any action in saving themselves or the others. What
I confirmed from the book is that most of those who survive in any disaster are those who take
regular disaster practice activities. They either read emergency guidebooks or take different
practical drills aimed at creating awareness of what to do whenever an emergency erupts.
I have always believed that in case of a disaster or an emergency, the emergency responder should
always be responsible enough to respond and help the injured. They should help those severely
affected, and if anything goes wrong, they should be held liable. The book changed my perspective
on this, and now I understand that I case I am involved in a disaster; I should be in the forefront to
be the help to those in more danger before the help arrives. This can save my life and life of others
too. I can help an injured person to breathe, to stop bleeding or call for help on their behalf, and
this can save lives.
Amanda’s book is quite insightful, and I think that it should be introduced in schools and be
recommended for the public to read. Amanda carries out investigations on different disasters
survivors such as the 9/11, hostages, hurricanes survivors, fire survivors, and plane crash
survivors, among others. The books come up with three main stages that people in a disaster go
through, which are denial stage, deliberation stage, and decision stage. In the denial stage, some
people do not believe the disaster can be happening to them are the ones in most cases are seen
gathering belongings in a disaster instead of evacuating. In the deliberation stage, some people
allow fear to take over them and only follow whatever other people in the crowd are doing. During
the decision stage, some people act to save themselves and others while others panic or freeze up
(Ripley, 2008). What was surprising is that most of the survivors had one thing in common where
they had to control their level of fear during the situation.
One thing that I could share with a friend, my family members or my peers is that they should
always strive to participate in different drills and training programs to make them familiar with
how they can respond to various emergency circumstances. Awareness is the first step in changing
everything, and people become more equipped to face any disaster. As the book confirms, those
who had earlier experience in disaster or had gone through a disaster drill or training were more
likely to survive (Bachmannet al., 2015).
Businesses, faith-based organizations, and homeowners, as well as the government, should be at
the forefront in preparing for emergency response practice and drills for their members and the
communities around them. This is because disaster can also happen on their premises and there
this will play a huge role in saving lives and property. As said, creating awareness is one of the
most fundamental aspects of minimizing deaths and the number of casualties in case of a disaster.
The Unthinkable: Who survives when a disaster strikes and why is a book were, we can see how
different someone’s behavior from others can be when a disaster occurs. At the same time, as well
as disasters, even though there are some common factors or patterns between them, we are all
unique individuals. I enjoyed reading this book because it was written with real incidents and
survivors. One of the stories that most impacted me was Turners’ death. He refused to leave his
home with the idea that if he survived once a similar event, he could survive it again. His house
made it through the hurricane, but he died from a heart attack. Now, stories like this one make me
think about not only the risks we decide to take when a disaster is about to happen or during it. It
also makes me reflect on every single decision we make daily. How prone are we to take risks
without even considering the consequences?
The author also used several examples of airplane crashes. I have some background in aviation
and aerospace, not only because I took classes but mainly because my family in one way or another
is involved in that field. Two weeks ago, when I was flying back to Philadelphia, I was one of the
passengers responsible to open the exit door in case of an emergency. I always pay close attention
to the instructions and even read the pamphlet in front of me, simply because I still feel that I may
have missed some information. Through my mind came the same thought that the author
mentioned. Many of the passengers do not pay attention to the safety instructions. The flight
attendants ask for verbal confirmation, but does that mean that the passengers understand or will
be able to open the door? At the same time, will I be able to open it?
Delay and fear were also two of the topics that I found fascinating. We are all different, and
depending on our backgrounds, we may also respond differently. My friends always say I am in
an alert mode, and if something happens, they want to be with me. Every time they repeat those
words, I fear not only for them but, also for me. The book presents many examples of survivors
whose previous experiences and training helped them to overcome the situation. I think that the
more we know, the better. I see it as backup power for our body. Positively or negatively, our
bodies will still react to the incident. I prefer my brain to connect fear and experience to get me
moving in the right direction, not otherwise.
To my loved ones and peers, I would say not to fear the wrong things and do not take anything for
granted. For example, do not fear a tornado, fear not knowing what to do. Do not worry about a
hurricane, fear not being prepared. My parents have always given me the reasons and importance
behind every no and yes. So, I agree with the author in that we should be direct and openly honest
with the people, even with children. However, respect and tactfulness must always be considered.
Again, we are all different.
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