Helicopters Magazine

Features Procedures Safety & Training
Stocking Up For Survival

In parts 1 through 3 of our “Survival” series, we drew up a dire crash scenario that left you alone in the wilderness. We examined the considerable role psychology plays in survival, the many benefits of fire, and how to set priorities, build emergency shelters and facilitate your own rescue.


July 18, 2011
By Dan Gibson

Topics

In parts 1 through 3 of our “Survival” series, we drew up a dire crash scenario that left you alone in the wilderness. We examined the considerable role psychology plays in survival, the many benefits of fire, and how to set priorities, build emergency shelters and facilitate your own rescue.

Continuing where we left off, you are cautiously approaching the wreckage for the first time since last night’s crash, growing hopeful of retrieving your flight survival kit. Locating your kit will increase your chances of survival, making the wait to be rescued less stressful and more tolerable. At this critical stage, it’s important to keep expectations of establishing some form of radio contact to a minimum, however, in part due to the condition of your helicopter, but also because you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment should you be unable to do so.

You move methodically among the wreckage with heightened awareness and with the complete understanding that, unaided in the wilderness, even the slightest scratch or sprain may result in serious infection and potentially immobilize you, impeding your chances of survival. The distinct odour of fuel makes your immediate situation far more hazardous.

As luck would have it (in survival situations, luck is a very relative term), the fire was primarily contained to the annunciator panel wiring and, despite the fuel leak, has almost burned itself out. The radio is clearly inoperable, however, and this realization suddenly inundates you with an enormous wave of sadness. The remaining embers still smouldering are quickly extinguished by a few handfuls of dirt though, and your spirits are so buoyed by this accomplishment that you shout out loudly. This paradoxical sequence of spontaneous, almost primitive, emotion is quite worrisome, so you step back to compose yourself.

Advertisment

In crisis situations, our state of mind may become precarious and anxious. Impacted by fear, anxiety and trauma, and often compounded by the onset of dehydration and/or hypothermia, seemingly insignificant disappointments, as well as inconsequential accomplishments, frequently result in exaggerated, erratic and confusing behaviour. Taking a few minutes to compose yourself in a precarious situation like this is a sound plan.

With focus back on your recovery efforts, you spy your survival kit, still strapped in the helicopter, apparently intact and easily accessible. Remembering to review and restock your kit before yesterday’s walk around may prove invaluable now, and while the precarious position of the aircraft makes things a little challenging, in no time, you are breathing a sigh of relief as you put safe distance between you and the wreckage.

Now, you can make fire and tackle a myriad important tasks/needs: staying warm, signalling overhead aircraft, tending to your injuries, purifying water, improving your shelter, deterring predators and eating something. Most importantly, you can finally experience a sense of composed safety for the first time since the crash.

Stocking Up For Survival is Part 4 in a series aimed at providing pilots with critical wilderness survival skills and insight. Coming editions will highlight how to guarantee a constant fresh water source, how to identify wild edibles and how to manage the threats (and discredit the myths) of large predator behaviour.

Taking Stock
Creating a comprehensive flight survival kit is a key part of wilderness survival. Put some of the following items in a compact, sturdy rucksack/backpack with exterior straps and pockets. Adapt the kit to suit your needs and endeavour to pack items that have multiple uses – and always have more than one fire-starting tool.

  • Butane lighter, flint and magnesium
  • Lightweight cordage
  • Signalling mirror and whistle
  • Fishing line and hooks
  • Candles, waterproof matches
  • Solar blanket
  • Needle and thread
  • Hunting knife
  • Multi-tool/Swiss Army knife
  • Lightweight hatchet/saw
  • Power bars/snack bars/gum
  • Extra gloves, hat and socks
  • Mini first-aid kit complete with personal meds, Tylenol/Advil and Loperamide
  • Compact rain poncho
  • Compact cooking containers (tin/cup/can/cutlery)
  • Self-charging radio/flashlight
  • Water purification tablets

The recommended kit “manual” is the compact SAS Survival Guide by John Wiseman, published by HarperCollins.


Dan Gibson is a consultant with the Helicopter Association of Canada, an award-winning pilot and president of Bear Beaver Aviation Services. He teaches wilderness survival skills for the Ottawa Flying Club in the Commercial Pilot/Aviation Management Program at the Algonquin School of Advanced Technology in Ottawa.


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*