The wilderness is place where for every chance of delight there is also a promise of danger. A couple of wrong steps or bad decisions and the ticket can become just one-way.
Although much of the knowledge detailed on this website is all about living in and comfortably passing through the wilderness there will always be things that combine and fail in a way that unexpectedly tip us into dangerous or unforseen situations – and it is times like this that it is critical not to lose your head and let the circumstances overwealm. By letting this situation get the better of you means that you surrender the best chance of regaining the upper hand, getting yourself out of danger and back in one piece.
Travelling in the wilderness will always remove many of the close-at-hand safety nets society provides so we are left with little to help us struggle back through the panic when moment things go wrong. At times like this panic can lead to confusion and the inability to think clearly and make the right choices and not the wrong ones that will continue that spiral towards death or injury.
Strange things happen to the brain when it is panicked, stressed or exhausted – even trying to undertake some simple, sequenced tasks can become almost impossible. This is why it is worth memorising two very simple words and using the letters as a guide for the steps that you need to take to drag yourself back from the brink. In this way you don’t have to think too much….just follow…and do.
STOP don’t panic
THINK about your situation
PLAN your next steps and goals
PROTECTION – the priority is to protect yourself from immediate hazard and from further danger, from the environment (heat, cold, weather), from threats (natural or tactical)
LOCATION – next is increasing your chances of being located (signalling and enabling rescue). The converse may be true in a hostile environment – you might NOT want to be located. Hiding your sign and trail may be order of the day.
ACQUISITION – this is the stage you need to focus on acquiring the resources you need to survive until rescue – this means shelter, fire, water, food, tools, weapons, medicines, and any other resources that are available or required.
NAVIGATION – determining both where you might be and where your might head (if rescue is not an option). Estimating time, distance and direction – both from where you have come, where you are going and where you are currently are using a variety of natural methods and basic map-making skills.
MEDICATION – This is survival-related medicine and treatment, concentrating on environmental issues and injuries (due to heat/cold/malnutrition/lack of water), dealing with adequate nutrition, food/waterborne toxins/organisms/pathogens and their removal, use of natural medicines if necessary.
There other pithy words and phrases that can be memorised and used but two of the above will hold you in as good a stead as any. Travel safely.