Dear Dr. Jackson
I am due to see Commander Straker tomorrow and it will be my first day on the job at SHADO H.Q. fresh out of recruit training. When I am nervous I tend to freeze in stressful situations and meeting the commander I fear will be one of these. I hear that he is very tough but has a gentle side he doesn’t show very often. Will he understand how I feel in front of him and what if I get all nervous in front of him? Col Freeman has said not to worry but I am and don’t want to let the Commander down. What would you and Commander Straker advise?
Dear Lieutenant Shy,
I have read your personal file and note that you completed SHADO training with satisfactory levels in all areas. However, it is apparent from reading your psycho-metric results that you have not yet undertaken the mandatory course ES:5629/022a ‘Learning to control one’s reactions when first encountering the Commander.‘
This has become a vital aspect of SHADO training for all new recruits following several recent incidents involving inexperienced operatives fleeing the immediate area in terror.
The next training session commences tomorrow in the Psychology Department at 08.30 hours. Lunch is provided as are tissues. Please bring your own handkerchiefs should you prefer them to tissues.
The schedule is as follows:
8.30 – 8.45
Coffee and biscuits. Introductions. No senior staff will be present apart from myself and two other members of the medical staff trained to deal with mild hysteria. However, all trainees are expected to remain calm and composed.
08.45 – 09.45 Session 1
The course will commence with a brief history of the ‘Fight or Flight’ response and its associated effects on the human nervous system. Trainees will be shown a variety of ‘phobia-inducing stimulii’ including mice, snakes and arachnoids of varying sizes, and will be expected to approach within 50 cm of each specimen. There will then be a short break before the next part of the session.
10.00 – 11.15 Learning about Stress Levels
Trainees will learn about the specific physiological actions in the sympathetic nervous system and the primary causes, including the release of adrenalin and norepinephrine.
There will be group activities aimed at stimulating the sensory cortex of the brain to increase the rate of activity in the locus ceruleus. These activities are intended to help trainees develop a greater understanding of how their body is likely to respond in Level 1: Classification- Minor stressful situations such as a UFO sighting by the Space Intruder Detector.
11.15 – 11.30
Coffee and biscuits. Coffee will be served in Dr Jackson’s office for any participants who have not acquired sufficient control over their reactions.
11.45 – 13.00 Managing Level 2: Classification – Moderate Stress
This session will concentrate on a more intense and prolonged reaction to stress – for example, when Colonel Freeman asks you to bring him a cup of coffee, or General Henderson asks to speak to the Commander. This part of the course will be intensely difficult for many participants, and support will be available if required.
13.00 – 13.45 Lunch
13.45 – 16.30 Level 3: Classification – Maximum Stress
The most important session of the course. All participants are required to obtain a pass rate of 91% or above. Failure to do so will result in immediate dismissal from the organisation.
The session will commence with a ‘de-sensitising’ program that follows the SHADO approved process used to enable staff to overcome any recognised phobias that might have a deleterious effect on their performance.
From 14.30 until 15.30, there will be a series of precisely graded of exercises in which all trainees are introduced to photographs of the Commander. These will commence with small thumbnail images at a distance of two metres, leading to larger photographs until we reach the ‘life-size’ image at a distance of one metre. Extra credit will be given to any participant who approaches within 50 cm of the image although this action is not recommended in a ‘real life’ situation.
At 16.30 hours we will transfer to the corridor outside the Studio Office, which serves as Commander Straker’s second place of work. It is imperative that trainees do not attempt to communicate with any SHADO operatives at this time.
Once outside the office, trainees will be allocated a random number. The first person will seat themselves on the chair placed there in readiness, and will remain there until the Commander has been notified of the presence of a recruit. He will then exit his office and walk along the corridor in the direction of the Control room. He will not, at this time, make any indication that he is aware of the presence of anyone in the corridor.
This procedure will continue until all participants have undergone testing. Any recruit exhibiting an abnormal reaction, either of ‘flight’ or its more serious – and potentially fatal counterpart – the ‘flirt’ response,’ will have the option to be reallocated permanently to one of the support bases operated by SHADO in either The Falkland Islands or Tasiilaq in Greenland or to join me in my office for a cup of SHADO coffee.
I have added your name to the register and look forward to seeing you tomorrow.