One of the more deadly things you can do is to act normally in an extreme situation.
This goes for extreme weather situations, being taken hostage, living on a planet that may be dying, etc. etc. Basically, I believe panic will make you react in a predefined way while keeping your cool will make you react according to the situation. A few times panic might save you (running from a violent person instead of trying to talk sense to them) while in most cases not panicking will probably get the best result.
Interesting thought: aren’t we presented with “extreme” situations now and then, and once we’ve managed through them, they’re not extreme anymore. Take for instance, first day at school, first love, first day as a parent, first day of retirement, or being a victim of a crime, being in a car accident, or other accident, being falsely accused, getting fired and being unemployed, etc. etc, there are a bus load of extreme situations out there.
So, the thing is to keep from getting pissed at your boss for firing you, and trying to get a good letter of recommendation out of it (after all, who say’s you’re getting kicked cause your boss dislikes you?) Or to stop being a kid yourself once your little ones are on their way, or to get out of that car wreck, and try to get everyone else in it along, before something worse than a roll and a spin happens.
So, it’s all about controlling panic then… or? Hmmm…