Sunday, June 5, 2011

Near Misses

There have been many times in my life, and I suspect in yours, that something has happened where your life was placed you in danger but you managed to avoid a catastrophe by sheer luck.  Perhaps, just in the nick of time, you realized what was about to happen and you stepped back from the brink of disaster.  Or, more commonly, someone else recognized what was about to happen and intervened.  These are the “near-misses” in our lives that we all experience from time-to-time. 
When an accident happens, especially a serious accident where people are injured and sometimes killed, an investigation usually follows.  An accident investigation board is convened. Witnesses are called.  Experts testify as to how the accident happened and how it could have been prevented.  Then recommendations are published hoping that a similar situation can be avoided in the future.  Seldom does the same train-of-events take place following a “near-miss!”  But it should!  I suspect that for every accident that happens there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, maybe thousands, of “near misses.”  Situations that we seldom hear about but situations that we could learn a lot from if we were made aware of the details.
Sometimes someone else causes the incident that leads to a “near miss” and there’s probably little that we can do to about that except to be as observant as we can and then react quickly enough to avoid a problem.  Sometimes the problem is of our own making and when it is, the situation is particularly dangerous because we are often completely unaware of what is happening.  In this scenario, whether or not an accident occurs, depends in large part on the awareness, vigilance and ability of the others involved to take the necessary action to avoid an accident.  
If we were honest we would have to admit that sometimes we just get lucky and nothing bad happens.  But I for one don’t want to go through life depending on “luck” to keep me safe.  I want to be aware of what’s going on around me.  I want to be able to detect the precursors of life endangering situations and avoid them.  I want to pay attention to the “near misses,” learn from them and then, in similar circumstances, recognize what is about to happen and back-off before something bad happens!  As much as possible I want to be in control of my destiny and not depend on chance or the activities of others to determine my future.
So the next time you have a “near miss” take the time to analyze the events leading up to the incident.  Identify the conditions that existed that played a role in creating a situation where you (or someone else) could have been injured or killed.  Objectively and honestly determine your part in the scenario.  And then, after you have evaluated the evidence, determine the “lessons-learned.” Remember that unless the “lessons-learned” result in a change in your behavior you may be doomed to have another “near miss” and this time you might not be so lucky!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Be Seen and Be Rescued Quickly!

Leave your  trip plan on the back of a copy of the topo map you will be using.
The single most important step in getting rescued quickly is to leave a trip plan with two reliable people you can count on to raise the alarm when you don’t show up on time.
Your job as the survivor is twofold.
First to survive! To maintain your body temperature of 98.6ยบ F. for as long as possible, to keep yourself hydrated and to treat any injuries as best you can (thereby giving the SAR forces a chance to recover a grateful, living survivor.) Secondly – to make yourself more visible so that they can find you quickly.
Leaving a trip plan is the most important step to get yourself rescued quickly.  The next most important step is to remain in one place and wait for rescuers to arrive.  It is very difficult for those trying to find you if you are constantly moving – or as one rescuer put it “It’s hard to hit a moving target!”  So be patient, sit tight and make yourself more visible.
Here’s how you do it.