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Emergency decision making

Vasily Aleksandrovich Arkhipov started as a sailor in the Russian Navy, years later, as a commander, he saved the world. On October 29, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, US Navy ships began dropping depth charges near Russian submarines. To the Russian submarine commanders this was the signal for World War III. The commander of the nuclear submarine fleet there, Arkhipov, had to make a decision: whether to float without reacting or to fire a nuclear torpedo at the American ships. The decision that Arkhipov made, a decision that prevented a third world war, was not to fire a nuclear torpedo.

Closer still, on September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov made a similar decision. Millions, maybe tens of millions, owe him their lives. He was 44 years old, at a nuclear command center near Moscow, when an emergency alert was received. The screens showed five American nuclear missiles launched towards the Soviet Union. For about 15 seconds he was in a shocked cognitive state that also manifested in physical and emotional freeze. He was required to decide immediately what to do. This happened after the Soviet Union shot down a Korean passenger plane carrying an American congressman. 269 ​​dead. After five nerve-racking minutes in which he received data by phone, fax and on screens, he decided not to launch a nuclear counterstrike.

In another place and time a fighter enters a room with armed men, a figure stands in front of him, he has to make a decision, in a split second, whether to shoot or not.

What are the physical aspects of the decisions made by the master, not only in chess but during a car race, in emergency medicine or in physical and verbal confrontation?

Expert decisions are made very quickly and lead to better consequences. The moves of the inexperienced player, even if he or she are smart, are slower, the decisions worse. If the smart and inexperienced opponent is asked to decide as quickly as the expert, he will make even more mistakes because the speed, for him, is a stressor.

Looking at experts shows that they make better and faster decisions than an ordinary person even in a crisis environment. The basic premise of the process of Detant is that quick and correct decisions in short periods of time require a physical background that can be learned.

A longer time frame makes it possible to make a decision while weighing possible courses of action. When there is no time, the decision is much more dramatic and the weighing is done against a background of emotional and physical stress. Stress changes physiological, hormonal, emotional indices and therefore impairs thinking.

Experts perform physical action patterns until they become part of an integrated system of quick and correct decisions. What was Vasily Arkhipov's physical action pattern when he saved the world? What happened to Petrov? We have answers.

By Queery-54 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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