There is one thing that is almost never told about the sinking of the Titanic.  First, many people in third class were not allowed or did not know how to navigate through the corridors of the ship to be rescued.  Many of these men, women and children went down with the ship.  Also, when the crew began to realize that the boat was in danger (no one every expected it to sink), the women and children were put into the life boats and then lowered into the water.  No men were allowed on the boats.

Later when it was evident that the Titanic was certainly sinking, men were allowed on the boats.  However, about half of the lifeboats were less than 50 percent full as they were being lowered into the sea.  As the Titanic sank, many of the men jumped into the icy ocean.  For several reasons, these men were not rescued by the lifeboats, even those that were only half full.   

In some cases the women were paralyzed by fear.  In their immobilized situation, they could not help the dying men get into the boat.  Second, the experienced sailors who were at the helm of some of the lifeboats understood that a suction effect of the Titanic’s sinking could grab the smaller life boats and engulf the small vessels downward with the larger cruise liner.  These helmsmen would not allow the boats to return to the area and become rescue vessels.  Another dynamic that is not often spoken about is that the women were looking for their husbands and wouldn’t allow other people onto the boats.  By looking at the faces, they doomed not only their own husbands but so many others to a freezing death. 

In researching survival techniques, there are several important rules.  The first may be, “Do not look at their faces.”  Stated in other terms:  You cannot be choosy about whom you rescue.  Rescue efforts must extend to everyone.  Looking for a particular person and being exclusive about who is allowed on the lifeboat means that many people will die.

This Sunday at Special Gathering we were faced with a crisis situation.  Mandy, a young woman who seizures, quietly slipped from her seat on to the floor as I was wrapping up my sermon.  Because her seizures are usually short and mild, I asked a volunteer to begin to time the seizure.  Another volunteer slipped from her seat and sat next to Mandy, quietly praying for her and comforting her.  I wrapped up the devotion before the three minutes was over.  In that time, Mandy was talking.  We asked her if she wanted to call 911.  She said, “Yes.  This seizure was different.  I need to go to the hospital.”

It is the natural reaction of everyone who faces a crisis to look at the faces.  Accessing a situation means that you must quickly–immediately–make decisions.  You cannot become paralyzed by the circumstances that confront you. From the way that she had slipped from her seat, I felt that Mandy had not hurt herself.  However, I also knew that she should not be moved or even helped for at least three minutes.  I determined to close the program in an orderly way so that our members were not unduly upset. 

While Mandy’s face could have etched my consciousness blocking out everything else, training told me that I must also determine the best procedure for the entire group.  I felt that the best way to handle the situation was to calmly follow the normal process. 

Within four minutes, the EMT’s had been called; and they were on their way.  As it turned out, Mandy’s neck was hurting which meant there could be a serious neck or back injury.  Had she injured her back and had we allowed or encouraged Mandy to move into any other position, she could have greatly increased her injuries.  After a CAT scan, the hospital determined that she had no neck or back injuries and she was released from the hospital.

While Mandy’s circumstances were important, as program leaders, we must also learn to access the needs of the entire group.  Looking to rescue only the one person you love may doom everyone during a crisis situation.