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Trade Tower Disaster Teaches "How to Get Out Alive"

A New York Times article titled, “How to Get Out Alive: What the Science of Evacuation Reveals About How Humans Behave in the Worst of Times,” tells what researchers have learned about evacuation from disaster survivors.

In the case of the doomed Trade Towers, those who made it out waited for an average of six minutes before evacuating. Some lingered as long as half an hour. What did they do while they waited? Some helped co-workers. Others milled around. The article said, “Many called relatives. About 1,000 took the time to shut down their computersÂ…. At least 70 percent of survivors spoke with other people before trying to leave.”

One lesson was that, in spite of a previous attack on the towers, and various efforts to make evacuation effective, less than half the survivors knew there were three stairwells in the building, and less than half had ever entered a stairwell. One investigator said, “I found the lack of preparedness shocking.”

One woman, Elia Zedeno, who was on the 73rd floor of Tower One, “heard a booming explosion and felt the building actually lurch to the south, as if it might topple.” The article stated:

You might expect that her next instinct was to flee. But she had the opposite reaction. “What I really wanted was for someone to scream back, ‘Everything is okay! Don’t worry. It’s in your head.’” Fortunately, at least one of Zedeno’s colleagues responded differently. “The answer I got was another co-worker screaming, ‘Get out of the building!’” she remembers now. Almost four years later, she still thinks about that command. “My question is, what would I have done if the person had said nothing?”

This world is going to end. The Bible promises it will happen when people least expect it. But God’s Word also gives clear directions on “How To Get Out Alive.” We can’t afford to keep quiet. People’s lives are on the line.

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