Emergency survival training.

Resting on our laurels isnt the way we do it - mostly because as instructors we enjoy getting out there and experiencing the "life" - neither myself or Steve are into bushcraft for the sake of our ego's and as such we understand the only way to train students properly is for us to get out there and do what we would ask them to do, then we understand the problems our students face - I've known many an instructor who could not practice what he preached, having learnt just enough to cover their subject, so I ensure that is never the case with us we regularly get out there and do!

So that's the reason why myself, Roger and Steve ended up in Sweden with only emergency packs or survival kits for an over night scenario.

The Survival kits/emergency packs we carried were all varied but the stimulation was honesty - fear of the unknown which is what stops a lot of people from doing similar is understandable and even the guys had to be nudged onto the straight and narrow with a timely "you'll only be cheating yourself!"

So what did we carry? Myself I carried a haversack with the usual items I carry anywhere aka my possibles bag - now I don't believe in x amount of item kits, carry what you feel safe carrying and ignore these so called experts of preach otherwise - but in my kit on this occasion I carried (and remember the scenario is we where overnighting fishermen)
  1. Haversack
  2. Flask of hot water and brew kit
  3. Possibles - torch, paracord, sharpening stone, compass, tinder, space blanket, first aid kit.
  4. Laplander saw - M95 knife
  5. Single bed size Wool blanket
Of which the only items I didn't need or use on this occasion was the compass and the first aid kit.

Steve carried a kit he has in his snugpak response pack - this kit he has carried for many years - its his go to bag and the same kit he used to carry on our fasach ile courses the contents of which is -

Larger so will just list it - Hi viz dry bag, reusable space blanket, Lanyard with compass,whistle,firesteel and micro torch, matches, alc gel satchets, toilet paper, first aid, led torch, 9hr candle, stove (wild woodgas) merino buff, energy bar, 1 litre of water, 10m gaffer tape, titanium cup, salami, 2 x10m paracord, 6 x pegs, go lite basha, cylume, another energy bar, 2 x hot choclates, feeznal lens, more matches, tinder card, brew lit, 2 more alc gel satchets

Roger who has done some "work" with the Swedish RANGERS packed along a kit they advised - flask, ice picks (in case you go through the ice) snow goggles, spare gloves, trangia stove and fuel, fire kit, map and case, compass, torch, mug, chopping board (wooden) 1 sweet meal - 1 main meal (both MRE) - 2 x boiled sweets, 3 x stock cubes, cup-a-soup, brew kit, cordage, candle, paracord, fishing kit, mini (button) compass, puritabs, cylume, tin foil, sewing kit, first aid kit, ffd, flares 1 para 1 hand.

So quiet a difference in the three kits and three approaches ,,,,,,, what would you choose?

Well I guess it all depends on your skill level eh??

Anyway - so we started the exercise after lunch - before lunch we broke camp packed our gear and cleaned up the site which upon arrival we found to have a fire circle full of beer cans and broken glass (in a true survival situation the beers cans abd glass would be handy but for this is was just a shocking shame as it was almost proof even Sweden is falling out of love with the nature when its people can leave a mess like that!)

After lunch (a bowl of mash potato flavoured with cup-a-soup) we started - firstly we did a recce to find ourselves a good camp location - this is important as many people just charge in to the first place they find - at least check an area 100m around your location if not further you might find something better!


This was were we selected - rocks blocking the wind off the lake with a fire place already in the centre.

We cleared the snow to ground level bearing in mind the native American saying that mother nature will warm you - then we lay beds and carpets of spruce bows salvaged (in the interest of conservation and to prevent more unwanted trees being used etc) from our over camp.

Myself and Steve having some form of shelter sheet erected these on the far side of the shelter allowing roger the protection of the rocks and the benefit of these acting as reflectors to the fires heat.

 http://youtu.be/DJRQpdIWlCk - this is a little film of our camp

Camp established we then set about gathering our fire wood - we gathered what appeared to be enough and then a little more - started a long log fire which I angled across the camp so myself and steve were partly side on but so roger had the benefit of one full side to himself!

We needed water by this time having drained our hot water from the flasks and so Rog went off to recce a spot as we already knew melting snow was a last resort. Diamond geezer only found a small ice berg which he smashed up and brought back to camp - the rocks behind his sleeping area became known as the fridge! And we commenced the endless cycle of melting ice and drinking warm drinks.

Darkness feel upon us with the slow inevitability of death and we all settled down for the night - I remember asking Roger the time before I wrapped myself in my blanket and drifted off to sleep.

Around midnight harsh hushed whispered and much blowing and snapping of sticks awoke me - Steve and Roger where both hard at it trying to rescue the fire. For a while I lay and watched them - to many chef spoil the broth - but eventually I too roused myself and lent a hand.

Two things became evident, firstly Roger had slowly crept closer and closer to the fire and that the fire had likewise spread towards him rather than maintaining its long log lay and that it had also crept up hill a little leaving a empty belly on the rocks ...........................on top of this is seems the wood was burning out at a alarming rate - indian make fire keep warm white man make big fire keep warm gathering fire wood - even with all his layers on Roger seemed to feel the cold far more than myself or steve, I guess the reflectors/shelters we had were doing a good job and a check on the little thermometer I had showed the temperature between or shelters was a steady 0c - outside we discovered it already down to -7c.

Having slept about four hours I decided to stay awake a while and manage the fire - this unspoken decision was welcome as the other two settled down and were soon snoring.

I maintained the fire for a while then eventually gravity took my eyelids and I too nodded off. Again the fire burned down but this time better stacked etc it was quickly restocked - a hot drink made and we all crashed out again.

First light was slow coming, we were all awake before dawn and had enjoyed several cups of tea.

With the sun creeping over the horizon we discussed the night and what we would do now if it was to become an extended stay out - the main point was better harness the fire!! Obviously we didn't need to set up rescue signals and all those chores but we were mindful of the tasks - it took some doing to stop Roger using his flares but we didn't want to start a "false call!"

With the day now well started we sat beside our fire making some pine tea a little disgruntled as we had been told a journalist wanted to interview the three crazy "English" he was supposed to arrive about 10 am ..........................................................12 oclock and we were still waiting - then eventually suited and booted like a fish out of water he arrived!!!

Questions flowed, notes were scribbled and photos taken, the reporter was most surprised when I stated that we didn't call ourselves survival experts, "why he asked?" Because I explained in our experience to many so called experts aren't. Humility is a virtue and any man who says he knows everything proves by so doing that he doesn't!

It was lost on him I think but he was happy to understand the title wilderness living instructors instead.

Well as quick as he came the shivering wretch was dragged away and we broke camp with agusto ..................Food, a shower and a porcelain seat awaited us back at Risviken - we had proved the points we wanted to - we had established what "should" be in a emergency kit and what a load of tut some people also recommend ............... all this done in the view of future training so any one hardy enough to attended it!

 Day light
 Night light
 And the walk home

A great little night out which thanks to a little knowledge we all enjoyed - had it been real we would have all made it home after our impromptu night out - but how many wouldn't have? Even as we packed up we pondered the story the reporter had told us of a lady from Stockholm way who hadn't made it home just the night before or little exercise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great exercise and great post! Thanks for sharing!