I received a call a while ago from a facility where we had conducted training. (try our cpi training online or our crisis intervention certificate) They had an incident where a staff member unintentionally utilized a hybrid technique of one of ours, and another move they had seen somewhere. A complaint arose that the staff member behaved in a contradictory manner from how they’d been trained. They were accused of doing something different than they’d been taught. The call was with a number of people on the line, and the facility was recording the call as part of the investigation. For those of you who work in the industry, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever witnessed or been involved in this type of investigation you know that no one seems to enjoy this time together.

Not only does the accused not enjoy it, but the investigators do not enjoy it either. They normally don’t enjoy looking like they’re on a witch- hunt, trying to figure out if somebody did something wrong, just to get them fired. They often are a good group of people, who just want to find out what really happened and find out if mistakes were made, and there are lessons to be learned. I don’t enjoy those calls even so. I don’t enjoy having to explain what we do, how we teach, and all that’s involved. Even though there are always things to learn from what actually happened, I always make it a point to tell these people, “You know, a crisis cannot be choreographed.”

There is a lot of book knowledge you can learn, and you can gain years of experience, but there is no guarantee as to how someone will behave in crisis. I tend to believe that most people in such situations try to do the right thing. More often than not, I’ve found that those people who evaluate, judge, and investigate these types of situations, are often people who have either never been on the front lines or they haven’t worked on the front lines in a long, long time. Sadly, they have forgotten, or they just don’t know or understand how difficult it can be in the middle of trying to defuse a crisis, especially if it’s turned into a hands-on situation. We’re not even talking about the tactical side of things, where complex motor skills go out the window, and you’re in a fight or flight mode, and you’re trying to do the right thing. Forget that side of it, and remember that a crisis simply cannot be choreographed. There is no perfect solution, there’s no one hundred percent guarantee that everything I do is going to be perfect. There is no guarantee that I’m going to do everything exactly the way I was trained, or teach for that matter.

I hope I’m going to do it the right way, but that only comes through repetition and realistic training. If you’ve ever been involved in a situation where you’ve been investigated, or things have happened and you’ve become discouraged, please don’t lose faith. Yes, there are people making decisions about the situation who, potentially, may have never been involved in one. Maybe they don’t have the background or the credibility to be making those decisions, but they are now in that position. Don’t lose hope. Know, in your heart, that you did the best you could in that situation, and have faith that the truth will prevail. Take comfort in the fact that we’re the instructors and they’re at least calling us for feedback.

We know and understand crisis situations can’t be choreographed. We recognize that a crisis is exactly that. It’s an emergency. You do the best you can in a crisis, you use the skills you’re taught, you tell the truth, you hope the truth will come out through the investigation, and you learn from your mistakes. It’s all you can do. Ballet is choreographed, crisis is not.