|An Unexpected Conclusion|
|Survival Challenges||Will To Live|
Wrestling to stay in control, you are thrown violently against the shoulder strap. The plane comes to an abrupt halt with a final, bone chilling shriek of ripped metal. All is eerily quiet. Exhaling forcefully, you begin to breathe again. Suddenly, your passenger begins to moan. Wiping your hand across your eyes, your vision clears. The bright red blood on your hands snaps everything instantly into focus. You recall what's happened. The engine quit. You found a small clearing to put it down into. Your training paid off. You are alive. Now what?
The answer could very well depend on how well you have prepared for this eventuality. You've managed to survive this far by dint of your flying skills and a bit of luck. How well things go from here will be significantly influenced by those preparations or lack thereof. The most experienced experts would gladly trade all their expertise for a bit of luck in such a situation, but since we cannot ever depend upon luck, we must rely on preparation. As the Japanese proverb says, "to wait for luck is the same as waiting for death." Knowledge of survival techniques and a well stocked survival kit can turn this unplanned conclusion to the flight into little more than an impromptu camping experience. On the other hand, if you are ill prepared, survival after the crash could become a grueling test of your will to live, your resourcefulness, and, to a great extent, your luck.
There is a often repeated and paraphrased, and occasionally mangled, saying that sums this up nicely, "failing to prepare is the same as preparing to fail." Whether you are talking about knowledge or equipment matters not a bit, it is just a true for both.
Survival in the wilderness, especially after a crash landing, presents many challenges, both physical and mental. In many circumstances the mental challenges are a greater threat. A survivor's primary survival resource resides inside their skull. A positive mental attitude, common sense, and a modicum of good judgement will make all the difference.
Regardless, the shock experienced and the rigors endured, as well as self-inflicted mental torment, can so affect the mind that all those advantages can be for naught. Fear, panic, anxiety, guilt, grief, boredom, loneliness, stress, depression, interpersonal conflict and other normal psychological distress associated with a survival situation can be extremely debilitating, interfering with the rational thought processes necessary for survival. They have proven deadly in otherwise survivable situations!
Knowledge of survival techniques is an irreplaceable and invaluable resource. The better prepared you are with training, the better you will be able to deal with a survival situation, both mentally and physically. Training will be especially valuable in dealing with these mental challenges. It gives you a big edge. It sets you up with a basic ingredient of that all important survival resource, a positive mental attitude. Knowing what to do when trouble comes calling can banish a whole host of psychological goblins. Being prepared isn't just for Boy Scouts.
Training, along with the appropriate survival equipment and supplies, also puts you in control rather than allowing the situation to control you. It gives you more options as opposed to little or none. Control over your destiny, to one degree or another, offers opportunities for survival.
The essence of survival is the "will to live." Unfortunately, the will to live is neither as prevalent as most believe nor does it burn equally bright in all of us. The luxuries of modern civilization have exacerbated this problem, robbing many of this vital survival instinct. Good survival equipment, along with training, will help compensate, as much as is possible, for this loss or diminished capacity.
Man against the elements -- this epic struggle can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Possibly alone, possibly injured, possibly far from help, the human body is assaulted by the elements which can literally sap the life from it. Survival depends on the ability to deal successfully with the common physiological crises of hypothermia, hyperthermia, dehydration, starvation, fatigue and other environmentally induced physiological problems, and to do so with limited, often nearly nonexistent, resources. The more resources, both equipment and training, you have at your disposal, the better your chances are. It's that simple. More is better. People have survived against all odds by dint of nothing more than their will alone, but it's stacking the odds against you to rely on solely that to see you through.
Without training and equipment, you are utterly at Mother Nature's mercy and she isn't noted for being particularly merciful. For that matter, she couldn't give a damn if you live or die. It can be a lot like stepping back in time a couple of thousand years. Is that where you really want to visit? Without the equipment, you had better be very well trained and extremely lucky, because survival can be extraordinarily more difficult. It is a lot more practical to be well equipped. After the crash is too damn late!
With a well equipped survival kit you can manage miracles in the wilderness, if you keep your wits about you and if you use your head. With the right equipment, you really are simply facing an unexpected camping experience. Remember, however, a survival kit by itself won't save your life. The knowledge of how to use the equipment and supplies in it, combined with a positive attitude, will.
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
Revision: 007 February 3, 1997
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