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>>I hope this is'nt an apples and oranges comparison but i thought I would mention it.<<

I don't think it is, and I can think of some examples where the passengers on a ship had full knowladge of what was going on and kept their cool. The fiasco with the Oceanos is one of them. The problem is that such situations tend to be more the exception then the norm. Ship's officers can't make their decisions in the hope that people will keep their cool. They have to plan for the Worst Case Scenerio as that's what they usually get.
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Interesting thoughts, Michael F, on Ann's possible escape from Titanic by jumping over the rail with Peter Daly.

Another passenger of which no-one seems to have seen on Titanic at any point is William Hipkins, a businessman travelling in first class. I have been interested in this passenger for a number of years as he lived quite close to where I live.

Cheers,

Boz
 

Jim Kalafus

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Cornelius- 9/11 is not at all apples and oranges, and is a fine example of how authority figures working quickly and efficiently can keep a mob of people in a situation where death is horribly imminent from reaching the point of demoralisation. It is also a fine example of how the downplaying of danger can kill people. A good friend of mine was in an upper floor office in which the staff supervisor, who was there for the previous attack, calmed the group, took common sense precautions (made people in impractival footwear remove it, had everyone leave their briefcases and personal effects) and led them out. Incredibly, there were other offices in which people were told to return to their desks and were later trapped.

There are several interesting articles on the psychology of panic which reenforce the fact that the "people are like cattle" attitude is not only the wrong one but costs lives. People tend to panic as survival options dwindle, but tend to behave better than the stereotype would bear out, in general, during disasters when informed of the danger and "kept moving". Witness the fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club back in 1977 - 1100 people were in that room, and all but 168 managed to escape through the two partially blocked exits in less than five minutes after receiving instructions from a busboy. The panic which sealed the exits only broke out as people at the back of the crowd began to burn or asphyxiate, and those ahead of them began to push forward in a final effort to save themselves.

Witness then, the fiasco of the evacuation of the Andrea Doria, where a single announcement of "statti calmi" was apparently all the information the passengers were given on an "official" level. Left to their own devices, and on a ship which was obviously in trouble, the passengers remained calm through much of the disaster, but made what could have been a horribly wrong choice by going to the "high side" of the ship where the lifeboats were inoperative, and where they could not see the unannounced lowering of the crew-filled lifeboats from the starboard side. Panic only broke out with the arrival of rescue ships, as passengers, again left to their own devices, attempted to evacuate. At least two were fatally injured at that point (one was a woman who fell from a cargo net and broke her back landing across the side of a lifeboat, the other a little girl whose father did not realise the lifeboat below him was manned by Swedes, called out "catch her" in Italian and dropped her down) The "official" response to questions about the silence was that they wanted to avoid panic. Fact is, the Andrea Doria only missed becoming a Titanic size disaster by the fact that she lingered ten hours- had she suddenly capsized, as most on board suspected that she would, most of the calm but uninformed passengers would have been in a situation from which escape would have been extremely unlikely.

Witness, too, the Sioux City airline crash of 1989, and the O.N.A. crash of May 1970. In the former, the plane was crippled and all but unmanageable, but the crew kept the passengers informed throughout, with no ensuing panic and with a very high survival rate post crash- the passengers knew what to do, were prepared for what was to come, and with the exceptions of those who were seated over the hull fractures and were ejected from the plane and died on impact, and those who were trapped in their seats on a section which landed inverted and burned out, managed a successful and non-panicked evacuation from what HAS to be the scariest prolonged situation a traveller can find ones self in. In the 1970 crash, in which a plane ran out of fuel and had to ditch in the Caribbean, the passengers were not as well informed (the PA system was not in order) and as a result 22 passengers, not aware of the seriousness of the situation, were not strapped down at the moment of impact and were too badly incapacitiated to be evacutated before the plane sank. In one case the passengers were informed, and their chances of surviving improved greatly. In the other, they were left to their own devices and, as a result, nearly half were lost.

Then, too, there is the Triangle Fire. CLose to 200 women were evacuated safely from the Eight floor, with the only fatality being a worker who ran to the Ninth floor rather than down to the street. Likewise, on the Tenth floor, 70 workers were successfully evacuated with only one fatality. 144 died on the Ninth. The fire was extremely fast moving and within 8 minutes all trhee floors were closed off to rescue. What made the difference, ultimately, was that on 8 and 10 there were bosses and supervisors present who kept the crowd moving and did not allow the situation to deteriorate. On 9 there was, apparently, no "feared" supervisor or boss to take control: no one offered direction and the crowd swiftly became demoralised with an approximate 50% fatality rate.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>Presumably the men who Scarrott had to deter with a tiller knew that something was seriously wrong, although how they found out is not clear.<<

Well, if they were members of the crew, it's very possible that they saw the damage for themselves, below deck. There is no proof of this, perhaps, but there's a type of rhetoric (I forgot what it's called) that suggests the logic of likelihood, and in this case, it would seem to make a lot of sense. From what I remember, there were pockets of crewmen who did spring up from the bowels of the ship and attempted to commandeer lifeboats. Maybe it's because they had been right in the middle of the danger and became motivated.

Just my thoughts.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Just my thoughts.<<

Maybe your "thoughts" but they make sense to me. If they didn't see it, almost certainly they were aware of it. News of this kind travels at lightspeed on any ship...at least among the crew.
 

Inger Sheil

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quote:

Well, if they were members of the crew, it's very possible that they saw the damage for themselves, below deck.
I don't know if there's any evidence that they were, Mark - Scarrott says that they were 'foreigners':
quote:

would be 20 women got into the boat, I should say, when some men tried to rush the boats, foreigners they were, because they could not understand the order which I gave them, and I had to use a bit of persuasion. The only thing I could use was the boat's tiller.
It's noticeable that there were communication difficulties again - although whether they actually couldn't understand Scarrott, or chose to ignore him, is an interesting point. In an ideal situation, all the passengers would have attended boat drill, all the crew would have been adequately trained, and there would have been sufficient lifesaving equipment aboard. As it was, there was no boat drill, the crew were inadequately trained, there was insufficient lifesaving equipment on board and no PA system. There is also evidence that not even all the officers themselves were aware of what the inevitable final outcome was going to be - this point is debatable, but even Wyn Craig Wade, one of the first to really tackle the Lightoller pedestal, thought he was sincere when the 2nd officer said he didn't know the ship was going to sink until quite late.

The officers wanted to avoid a La Bourgoyne type of disaster (an notorious example, although not quite exactly factually understood in 1912, that was probably very prominant in their minds), and had to cope with the above factors in doing so. That they were successful in suppressing panic as long as they did - other than in isolated breakouts - is indicative that they may well have made the right decision. As Jim says, the panic sets in as survival options dwindle, and people turn to a last ditch effort to save themselves. Had everyone been made aware earlier that the ship was going to sink and there were not enough lifeboats for all (as would have readily become apparent when passengers and crew made their way to the boat deck), that recognition that they had no options would have come much sooner.​
 

John Clifford

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I can also think of a situation where a little communication might have helped:
In February 1991, a US Airlines jet, landing at LAX, was incorrectly directed on to the same runway as a Skywest commuter plane about to take off. About 35 people were killed in the resulting collision: all on the Skywest plane were crushed, but the people on the US Airlines jet might have escaped if there was a clear communication of, and assistance with, the escape routes and procedures.

It was after that mishap that the airlines instituted the rules about people seated near the exits having to be ready, and able, to help evacuate the other passengers.

In June 1991, I was on a flight from LAX to Seattle and was seated by the over-the-wing exit row. Myself and the two others next to me were reminded of the necessity of our roles, should an emergency occur; we mused that we needed to listen to the pre-flight safety briefings, but we did understand how importance of our situation (my parents, in 2002, were told by Southwest that they could not sit in the exit rows, due to their ages and my mom's artificial knee).

Now the airlines, and the passengers, know how important it is that everyone be involved in evacuating a plane, when the situation occurs.
 
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>>I don't know if there's any evidence that they were, Mark - Scarrott says that they were 'foreigners<<

Inger, unless I missed it, you didn't mention in the post previous to this that they were foreigners. As I remembered, you said "crew needing to use physical force when loading the boats." You also made some indication connection between the crew and the lifeboats earlier in the same post. I thought you referring to the crew as entering the boats, so that's why I made a comment regarding crewmen commandeering the lifeboats. My misunderstanding, sorry.

As for your explanation regarding the isolation of anxiety reactions among the passengers, I have no argument with that. To some extent, I get your point, even if I think it's a bit of a generalization.

Again, sorry for the misunderstanding.
 

Inger Sheil

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No worries, Mark - I often cite directly from sources, but in that instance thought that the Scarrott passage is used so often it's almost overexposed, which is why I just alluded to it. I did refer in my post to an instance when crewmen were supposed to have attempted to commandeer a collapsible boat, and although I didn't quite juxtapose the two incidents, I can see where the confusion could arise. Scarrott and Poingdestre working at the aft port lifeboats are a distinctly different area to the collapsible boats, however. Apologies for not being clearer.

In any emergency situation, those in charge of the evacuation are going to have to determine how much to tell the individuals in their charge and when. In John's example, of course, clear communication of exit routes, evacutation procedures and staff trained overseeing this would be essential. The point was not getting them into lifeboats, it was getting them off the plane. At least in theory, given time, all of them could get off in an emergency situation. The officers of the 'Titanic' couldn't get everyone off the ship in the best of circumstances. Which is not to say that they did not issue orders and attempt to organise and direct passengers - stewards woke and directed them to put their lifebelts on and assemble up on top, where they were - when possible - loaded into boats. Now, as I said before, the officers and crew were not effectively trained in fully evacuating the ship. Indeed, such a thing was impossible, because they had no means of entirely evacuating the ship - there was insufficient equipment to do such a thing. And there were failures - I've mentioned elsewhere that some passengers complained that their stewards failed to notify them that they were to put their lifebelts up and get on deck.

As I said, two factors - either deliberately or through their own lack of knowledge - were withheld from the passengers (and many crew): knowledge of the ship's ultimate fate, and knowledge that there weren't enough boats. The easiest way to keep people calm was to downplay the danger by not imparting either. Possibly, had the knowlege been universal, people would not have panicked, would not have noticed the shortage of boats, would not have attempted to rush them, would not have got in the way of hindering the loading of more boats. Or perhaps - and this is what I consider the more likely scenario - there would have been more instances of attempts to rush the boats, more attempts to commandeer lifeboats, and less inclination to back off - even at gunpoint.

There were difficulties enough getting the boats all launched.
 
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I am aware of these factors and see how and why such practices were conducted aboard the Titanic. That was a no-win situation (no-win in the sense that not everybody could have been saved) regardless of the executive decision that would have been made. As I stated two posts above, I am not in argument with this, so it isn't necessary to repeat, although the information provided is helpful and appreciated.
 

Inger Sheil

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No worries, Mark - I wasn't trying to lecture you (or anyone, really - I was just providing MHO in response to my good mate John
happy.gif
).
 
Jan 28, 2003
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All this speculation is so interesting, particularly as it allows for what-if scenario-building. It seems to hinge on two propositions to me.
a) in emergencies, inform and educate people about the exact conditions prevailing, and more will survive
b) informing people may cause panic, resulting in a greater loss of life

These days (a) is undoubtedly the best option because we have nearly 100 years of experience of disaster on top of the knowledge of 1912, influenced as it was then by the Bourgoyne debacle, and have systems and training to reflect this - though it still goes wrong sometimes, of course.

On Titanic, this was a bit academic. No proper systems, no PA, inadequate training, insufficient lifeboats, lengthy manual launching of boats, over-optimism, communications difficulties etc. etc. Given these circumstances, (b) may well have been the best option. And given the inevitability of the outcome, I think I might well have baulked at deciding who lived or died, beyond (as Smith) did ordering the women and children to be loaded first. Big ship - no mobiles, walkie-talkies - crew and passengers must have been left to their own decisions in a way we'd think unacceptable. Because we don't have to accept it - they did.

There are other entangling issues connected with panic. Socialisation ("others before me"), age, level of risk associated with everyday life, knowledge, and so forth. Living and working in London in my 20s I got very used to bomb scares - and real bombs. They came from a variety of sources - the IRA, anti-Israeli groups, Baader-Meinhoff etc. I got used to lots of things - the litter boxes in London disappeared (very detrimental to the city to this day!); spot-searches on the Underground; constant evacuations of public places and so on. I was young, with no responsibilities, and thought I'd live for ever, so wasn't that bothered really. Even after a post-box I'd just walked past blew up, scarlet shrapnel whining everywhere, everybody just standing and staring, and then running to help others. I got used to being ordered out of London pubs - you took your handbag despite orders not to (someone will nick it, girls...) and your drink, and sat outside until the police declared it safe again. My (Jewish) company got letter bombs and threats - we adjourned contentedly to the pub. They blew up a hotel where I was dining ..... torn dress, that time. To be lucky seemed entirely normal - after all there were 8m people in London. But when, a few years ago, I was in a shopping centre with my two children and a bomb scare was announced - I felt, for the first time, sheer and utter panic surging in me. Not for me, of course, for them. But I still had to stay calm because I didn't want to frighten them. There must have been a lot of people in 1912 just desperately stamping down panic for the sake of their loved ones. Miss Isham, being all alone, may just have decided she didn't matter so very much - like Edith apparently did.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>These days (a) is undoubtedly the best option because we have nearly 100 years of experience of disaster on top of the knowledge of 1912, influenced as it was then by the Bourgoyne debacle, and have systems and training to reflect this - though it still goes wrong sometimes, of course.<<

Mmmmmmmmmm...I'm not quite so sure of that. Some of the social restraining influances present on the Titanic which called for keeping that stiff upper lip, and which IMO, were part of what served to prevent panic don't really exist today, and tend to go out the window once those left behind realize "every man for himself" means just that. Earlier Jim Kalafus observed "There are several interesting articles on the psychology of panic which reenforce the fact that the "people are like cattle" attitude is not only the wrong one but costs lives."

With respect to the authors of those articles, if they think the "People are like cattle" thing is null and void, then I not only disagree but would suggest that they're missing the cause and effect relationship that exists here. That common thread in all the above situations where panic was averted...whether anybody fully appriciated the gravity of the situation or not....was good strong leadership which was in force when it mattered most. Absent that and with no clear sense of direction (Enter "survival options deminishing," stage right!)...things go to hell very rapidly.
 
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Yes, I know what you mean, Michael - that's what I meant by 'socialization'. How far you can rely on people to behave calmly, even if they don't really feel it, and to follow (hopefully well-considered) orders? We seem less socialized in many ways today, but when the chips are down, people often behave remarkably well, don't they? Given information and, as you say, leadership. And that's an odd thing, too.
I once happened upon an accident while driving. A child had been knocked down, so I stopped, as had several other people. They were debating whether to move him to the pavement (sidewalk) so the traffic could get past, while they waited for the ambulance. They had just about decided to do so. As a veteran of many ER-type programmes, I bellowed "NO!" and despatched three men to organize the traffic. Nobody demurred, and they did exactly as I said. I then confiscated various garments to immobilise the boy's head and neck. It was odd because I knew nothing, apart from what I'd seen on TV and all the 'leadership' seemed to require was someone with a bit of conviction. So - you have to hope that in an emergency - the person in whom you put your trust turns out to be the one who did know best ...... are we back to the Poseidon Adventure?
 
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>>How far you can rely on people to behave calmly, even if they don't really feel it, and to follow (hopefully well-considered) orders? <<

These days, I wouldn't bet the farm on it, much less my life.

>>We seem less socialized in many ways today, but when the chips are down, people often behave remarkably well, don't they?<<

Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. The Los Angeles riots in the wake of the Rodney King verdict doesn't inspire a lot of confidence when the mob mentality takes over, but I wonder if having a few strong leader types in the right place at the right time may not have made a difference in calming things down befor they got out of hand. It would appear that it's a crucial factor anywhere else, including shipping casualties, or the unfortunate child that you mentioned.

BTW, how did that child do? He survived I hope.
 
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Oh yes, he was just fine thanks. I'm sure it would have been OK to move him really, but those of us with several years TV ER training know better! I reckon I could do the heart thing with the paddles too, if I had to... "Stand clear!"
 
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Actually, talking about people doing things in emergencies that they know nothing about... my sister, about 35 years ago, was a dentist working for the Canadian government out of Frobisher Bay - and north, Inuit settlements and so forth. She was in a remote frozen outpost for a couple of days and was roused in the night by an emergency - a trucker had tried to change a huge damaged tyre without using the cage they are supposed to put round it in those latitudes. It exploded. There was no doctor on site, only Jenny and her nurse. They went to survey the victim. Face almost obliterated and chest injuries too, losing blood etc., impossible to get help from Montreal for hours. Jenny sent someone to wake up the nurse who usually assisted the anaesthetist (when he was there) and told her she'd just have to manage on her own. Sent other nurse to find textbooks on patching people up. The 3 girls worked for hours. The face was not a problem for Jen, she anchored the teeth and sewed the rest back, but the chest needed instructions read out from the books by the nurse who was also trying to assist. They stablized him and a plane arrived to take him away. She saw him in Montreal a few weeks later. She said he looked like Frankenstein, but was booked in for plastic surgery, and he was dead pleased still to be there and very grateful. I bet these days, he'd sue!
 

Mike Poirier

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I've been thinking that perhaps Ann Isham
had changed her cabin. I always thought it was odd that Colonel Gracie had no recollection of her. One thing that made me think that she could have was that Helen Bishop, in an account attributed to her, mentioned that a girl across the hall went back to bed and drowned. Now, the account could be erroneous. She could have been referring to Madi Frolicher who did go back to her cabin saying that she was going back to bed ( and her cabin was fairly close to the Bishops' ) OR Miss Isham could have upgraded while onboard to one of the empty cabins in Mrs. Bishop's passageway.