Will You Live or Die?

In the ER trauma world there is actually a formula that’s used to calculate a patient’s chances of survival. It’s critical to distinguish the difference between injuries involving knives, bullets and brick walls.

What’s so important about the first factor, age? Youth is the key to surviving injuries, particularly brain injuries. Sherwood’s research indicates that the optimum age for a brain injury is between sixteen and eighteen. After the age of twenty, survival rates spiral downward. Most of us in LE know about the “golden hour,” the critical time to get an injured person to a hospital. But luck plays a role in many critical incidents, where did the injury occur? Was it out in an uninhabited rural area, or in a big city just minutes away from critical care? Also, if you are mere minutes away from a hospital, is it one that is a major trauma center?

And then there are things classified as the intangibles, things like attitude and personality. Injured or sick people who maintain a positive attitude fare much better than those who are negative. In LE, we know that if a person thinks they are going to die, there’s a good chance they will. Two other intangibles exist which have an impact on helping people survive. First, the amount of love and support family and friends offer to the patient. There seems to be a correlation between the number of people in the waiting room of an ER who support the patient, and that person’s recovery. Second, people of faith seem to have a higher survival rate. Obviously, no proof exists to support this in a scientific sense, but anecdotal evidence supports the notion that those who call on their higher power survive at a higher rate that those who do not.

What are the magic numbers associated with Staying Alive?

The Air Force’s research indicates two numbers are key to your survival in an emergency. The first number is 98.6, your core body temperature. They recommend maintaining that number at all costs—simply put: cold kills. The second important number is 3, and here’s why:

The Rule of 3 states you cannot survive:

3 seconds without spirit and hope

3 minutes without air

3 hours without shelter in extreme conditions

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

3 months without companionship or love


The last thing I want to impart to you about survival is that luck plays a role in whether you live or die. In Sherwood’s book, luck is define as, “an unpredictable phenomenon that leads to good or bad outcomes in life.” But Professor Wiseman, in experiments, has deduced that, “Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead, it is a state of mind—a way of thinking and behaving.” Wiseman says we have more control over our lives than we realize, and says only 10 percent of life is purely random while the other 90 percent is “actually defined by the way you think.” Translation: a person’s attitude and behavior determines nine-tenths of what happens in their life.

Having been a trainer most of my professional life, I find the above facts to be extraordinary. The research involved with this thumbnail sketch I’ve supplied about who lives and who dies is unquestionably solid. Please share this article with your colleagues, family and friends. It may very well save a life.

Stay safe, Brothers and Sisters!


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About The Author:

John M. Wills spent 33 years in law enforcement as a Chicago Police Officer and FBI Special Agent (Ret). He is a Freelance Writer and Speaker whose third book, TARGETED, is now available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Contact John through his website: www.johnmwills.com.


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