Whilst working as a Flight attendant I had three big in-flight emergencies. In all of them I was the one that sensed the apporaching change. In all three we had emergency landings. In one I kept feeling an odd sense of release of pressure. Sure enough almost all the passengers on the plane were asleep. However we were all in danger of hypoxia and the was the danger of slow decompression was setting in. I contacted the Captian and soon enough we were descending. He was able to confirm via the instrumentation that there was a problem. I had donned an oxygen tank across my bank and began giving instructions to the passengers on our emergency evacuation. I then had two instances of smoke in the cabin for which again an emergency landing was necessary and the plane grounded to wires shorting.
After each of these instances you tend to listen more and more to those 'gut' feelings.
I worked close to half a decade afterwards in law enforcement in corrections. It was here that my spatial awareness truly served me well and no doubt increased (or I was made aware of it) exponentially. I attribute this however due to the combination of stress brought on by the profession but also due to the sleep deprevation/exhaustation which I incured for so many years. I was never injured in a drastic way. I guess I could say possibly my shoulder. However you tend to be 'on' almost all the time. Ready to go. Things that would startle people or have them flinch did not. Adverse or intense situations did not necessarily elicit a fight or flight response, at least not in the way most people would have them. Oftentimes I was running into or placing myself in the middle of situation that could in fact harm me.
You learn how to read things most people don't pay attention to and make correlations many would not. It's all part of the job, that is to say if you intend on being successful. I left the job not because I didn't enjoy it but becasue of burecracy and lack of sufficent pay. The stresses that you subject yourself to on a daily basis almost quadruple. You learn to comparmentalize issues outside of the workplace because they impede you from performing those spatial awareness checks.
So here I am years later. Its almost been two years since I stopped working there and six months since my shoulder surgery. One of the things that upset me most whilst at work was the cracking and popping of my left shoulder. Then on the third day of my shift I would start getting that wretched, horrible, gripping pain that would not decrease. My friend had a nickname for my pain, Ali Baba. Because after I started getting the pain it opened up me getting irritable.
Yet here am I. No Ali Baba and no more working night shift. The spatial awareness is still here. I am always on.
You don't forget. You remember. It may lessen. So the sirens, the trains, the dogs, the cats oh, madonn how they bother me so.
Sometimes I miss having to put my spatial awareness on the front end.