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Lessons From A Stranded Scout Troop

May 10, 2011

Emergency Response

A short two-night camping trip to experience all that the great outdoors has to offer. That’s what six Boy Scouts and two adult leaders had in mind when they set out on a weekend camping trip in a National Forrest in Arkansas in April. But they got more than they bargained for. Rapidly raising waters from heavy rains stranded the campers, keeping them in the wild for longer than they had planned.

Fortunately, all of the scouts and leaders were rescued by helicopter. No one was injured during their ordeal. They were prepared and took the best course of action at every turn.

Plan For A Safe Outing

Their story has a happy ending. Not all stories like this do. Often mistakes are made, mistakes that lead to worsening predicaments or even to disaster.

So what decisions led to their safe return? And more importantly what should you do before your next day-hike, weekend camping trip, or vacation?

  • File a plan. Before venturing out, it’s important to let someone else know your plans. Let them know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. A spontaneous trip may seem like a good idea at the time. But if something goes wrong, the authorities won’t know where to reach you.
  • Plan ahead. Go prepared. Even if you’re only going on an afternoon hike, take your personal survival kit, a first aid kit, a multi-tool, some water, and a snack. Think you don’t need all that extra weight because you have a cell phone? Think again. Electronics can fail, especially when dropped in water, and not every place has cell coverage.
  • Don’t exceed your experience level. Be reasonable when selecting your adventure. If you haven’t camped since third grade, don’t embark on a week-long excursion on Pike’s Peak. Train. Work up to it. Go with more experienced adventurers to grow your own experience.
  • Remember to STOP. If disaster does strike, remember to STOP – Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. Don’t panic; that only worsens the situation.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks.Bear Grylls may make for good television but many of his antics are not the best advice when it comes to effecting survival. Don’t take any unnecessary risks. One twisted ankle, a couple of bruised ribs, can make surviving in the wild much more difficult. The best advice is to take it slow and deliberate. Unlike Bear, in your survival situation, you’ll be working without a net.
  • Stay busy. When faced with an unexpected survival scenario, one of the best things you can do is to stay busy. Keep your mind engaged. Look for ways to better your situation. Staying active, without over exerting yourself, helps to keep your spirits up.
  • Don’t give up. Remember The Rule Of Three as you set priorities. Be safe, look for shelter, water, and food. But most importantly, don’t lose hope. Fight to keep the will to live.

While not an exhaustive list, hopefully these reminders will help you to make your next outing safer, or your unplanned survival situation more bearable.

Got some other tips? Please share in the comments section below.

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