How Do You React in An Emergency?

A few years ago my bestie and our little crew had an unfortunate incident in which her housemate’s border collie attacked her little dachshund. It was pretty awful for all of us, as the dogs had been living together for a year and it was totally out of the blue. The dachshund had his ear ripped but he was fine after a midnight dash to a 24 hour vet. After the panic subsided I was talking to my bestie (who’s a psychologist) and she was explaining our different reactions to the emergency. She told me about the concept of the panic or emergency response and how people usually fall in to one of three categories of flight, fight or freeze. 


You’ll get involved in the emergency. 


You’ll high tail it out of there. 


You’ll just stand there and watch the drama unfold. 

We figured out fairly quickly that I’m a freezer. A big one. Just to give you an example I was sitting on the stairs at my gym a few years ago and watched as a car mounted the gutter and crashed into the pole I was leaning against. I barely even flinched, I just sat there stupefied. I stayed there for another couple minutes and then calmly walked up the stairs to my step class where I fainted 5 minutes later after the adrenaline finally pumped into my lame-ass brain and made me aware that I almost died. Being a flighter would have been much more helpful in that situation. When we were moving house earlier this year I had all our kitchen stuff packed in plastic boxes and was bumping them down the stairs on an industrial sized trolley and I felt it slip. Instead of running out of the way I JUST LET IT FALL ON MY FEET! Three 60 litre plastic tubs of kitchen stuff. On. My. Feet. Because I’m a freezer. 

However this year I’ve invented a new category that makes me even more useless than a freezer. The Freak Out.

Freak Out

You’ll get involved in the situation but just make it so much worse with your incompetence. 

On the weekend Mr Smaggle stopped the car on the street to see if a shop was open and he didn’t pull the hand brake up hard enough, so after he exited the car it started rolling very slowly down the hill. Any normal person would have just pulled the hand brake but I screamed out the window ‘THE CAR IS ROLLING!!! IT’S ROLLING DOWN THE HILL!!!! HELP ME! THE CAR IS ROLLING DOWN THE HILL!‘ to which Mr Smaggle calmly replied ‘Well pull the hand break!!!!!‘. Obviously. Typical Freak Out response. I can’t believe I just told you guys about that. Now you know just how deep my nut bar rivers run. I also had another incident this year, which I can’t talk about in exact detail because it’s a bit too traumatic but it involved a finger in a door jamb and an ambulance being called. I was in charge of calling the ambulance. Big mistake. I picked up the phone and couldn’t for the life of me remember how to use it or which number to call. I just stood there going ‘Um… which number is it? Where’s the number? Do you have it written down? Um… I can’t… don’t know… phone...’ until finally someone shoved me out of the room because I was being such a pain in the arse.

Now before you go thinking I’m completely useless, my freak outs only happen if the emergency is MY emergency. Like I’m ‘trapped’ in a car that’s rolling down a hill or I’m the cause of someone losing the tip of their finger (yeah… I was the one that slammed the door on the finger. Thankfully they sewed it right back on and the finger is as good as new but at the time I was horrified). I’m much better if I walk into an emergency. I once successfully administered an EpiPen to someone having an anaphylactic attack. Yes, I am the same person who forgot how to use a hand brake this week. It’s because I wasn’t there when the person started having the attack, I was just a ring in. And that’s the magic formula for me not being a complete waste of space in an emergency. I have to miss the beginning. Otherwise I’m more trouble than I’m worth.  Especially if I’m the person that caused the emergency. Then all hell breaks loose. 

Basically if you have a car accident, I’m the first person you want to call. I’ll be all over that shit. If I’m IN the car you had the accident in, just ignore me while I’m in my frozen stupor and for god’s sake don’t let me do anything physical because I’ll faint. If I was DRIVING the car… it’s probably best that you restrain me. Just lock me in the boot or something. God only knows what damage I could do during an irrational freak out on the side of a road.

What about you? What’s your emergency response? Fight? Flight? Or are you a colourful mix of them all?

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. Nessbow 4 years ago

    I’m a freezer, who occasionally executes a freak-out.

  2. Pixie 4 years ago

    Aaaaaaaah being trapped in a car rolling down a hill was my number one childhood recurring nightmare!! I would totally have freaked out too!

  3. Kathryn OHalloran 4 years ago

    I’m a combination of the three – usually a fighter if someone else is in danger but freezer or freak outer if it’s me.

  4. JessB 4 years ago

    I’m too much of a fighter. I will get involved with situations that I don’t need to, just to exert some control over the situation.

    Example – a couple of days ago, a friend and I were walking to lunch. As we went down the street, we came across a guy and girl who were together, and two guys who were together. One of the guys from the second group had bumped into the guy from the first group, and the guy from the first group was a bit heated about it. As my friend and I approached, the other guy was starting to get heated too.

    My friend sensibly gave them a wide berth, but I walked right in between them and stood there, shooing them apart! Looking back, it was a bit silly – I could have turned into a target, things could have escalated, etc. but in practice it all turned out fine, and they listened to me and walked away from each other and my friend and I had a nice lunch.

    I do the same when incidents happen on the train – I once called the ambo’s when a lady fainted in front of me, I have told people off for smoking, I have taken control when people chucked a rock at the train I was on and broke a window.

  5. edenland 4 years ago

    FREEZER. Oh I am a freezer … when my son went missing from school I stood there looking at the principal and said,

    “My arms are heavy.”

    Because I was so, so freaked out. It was like Ralph Wiggum saying,

    “My pants are tight.”

  6. Emma Clark 4 years ago

    I am totally a freak outer. My son fell out of his high chair last week and I screamed, got us in the car then reversed up the kerb into the front fence, before hooning it to the Royal Children’s. It wasn’t until I got there that I realised that I was still wearing a flimsy pyjama top with no bra and my floppy breastfeeding norks were clearly exposed to everyone in the emergency room. Awesome.

    (Kid was totally fine. Mother was traumatised).

  7. Amelia 4 years ago

    I’m definitely a flighter. Utterly useless in any type of emergency situation. It seems like a programmed response, and not something I control, because no logical person would scream and throw their hands up in the air in the moment before collision, WHILE DRIVING.

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