Saturday, February 18, 2012

Preparedness and the Will-to-Survive

From my very earliest involvement in survival training nearly forty-five years ago "the will-to-survive" has been promoted as the key to living through some catastrophic event.  But is it really?   The more I speak with people who have found themselves in trouble the more I have come to believe that a person's tenacity to live becomes important in varying degrees depending on their level of preparedness for a life threatening event.  In other words the more prepared you are the less you will have to call on your will-to-survive!  Conversely, those people who have never consider the possibility of finding themselves in a life threatening event, and are now faced with dying in the outdoors, (or anywhere else for that matter), have only their tenacity to live, their will-to-survive, their determination to make it through a tough situation to facilitate their survival.  Sometimes their will-to-survive is enough and sometimes it isn't!  Sometimes you can have all the will-to-survive in the world but Mother Nature still overwhelms you! It is also true that being skilled and well equipped is not a guarantee that you will live to tell the tale - but it is a good start! 

Survival is both a psychological and a physiological test. Psychologically you must accept the possibility that at some point in the future you may find yourself in a crisis where, weather you live or die, depends on your level of readiness for the event.  Denying that such an event will ever occur or believing that there will always be someone nearby to provide you the help you need sets you up for failure and in this case "failure" could very well mean you die!  Accepting the possibility that you might find yourself in trouble is the first step in getting ready for a situation which you hope will never occur but might happen the next time you leave your home for work, start up the mountain on foot or board a plane.  Or any one of a thousand other scenarios that result in people being precipitated into a crisis unexpectedly.

Physiologically, to survive you must be able to defend your body temperature.  When you strip away all of the smoke and mirrors survival is nothing more than being able to maintain your body temperature within three or four degrees of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as possible.  Doing so requires both skill and having the tools you need to survive.   Those who believe that they will be able to manufacture the tools needed to live-off-the-land and then survive for long periods of time are deluding themselves.

"Don't let your ability to survive be affected by your lack of preparedness.  Those who are prepared may never have their will-to-survive called into question!"

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