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#170487 - 10/13/12 10:34 AM Training for Emergencies
Barefoot Friar Offline
member

Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Houston, Alabama
I went out yesterday for what was supposed to be an overnighter (turned out I walked faster than I thought I would and got back to the truck yesterday evening), and since I was alone, I had plenty of time to think.

I got to wondering if it is possible to safely (let me emphasize again, safely) "get lost" so that I could then find my way out. At the moment my only idea is to be blindfolded and driven to a trailhead I've never visited before by someone who does know right where we are, and then being elected navigator to find a specific location. I'm not sure how well that would really work though.

Then I began to wonder about other situations. Someone here, I don't remember whom, has mentioned going out and pretending that he/she had forgotten some item (even though it's actually in the pack), and then making do without it. Since it's right there, if the exercise doesn't work then you're not really in any trouble. So I wondered what would happen if I took my brother's pack and marked some random item with a bit of red thread and he did the same with something of mine -- neither one knowing what the other had chosen until we're out there and reaching for it. And then not being able to use it for the remainder of the trip because it was "forgotten" or "broken".

What do you think? How could I simulate being lost in a safe, yet effective, manner? What about learning how to deal with other difficulties? The point of all this is, of course, to learn how to respond instead of reacting when an unforeseen problem arises, thereby increasing the likelihood of surviving.
_________________________
"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls."

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#170494 - 10/13/12 11:59 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 666
Loc: Upstate NY
One way might be to have someone take you to an area they know intimately and then wander you around in some circles off trail and then leave you be. They can observe from a distance to ensure safety.
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#170496 - 10/13/12 12:02 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
One way to safely get lost is to go bushwhacking in an area safely bounded by roads. I wouldn't make it too big. Maybe a half mile in each direction. Bring a friend with a GPS with you.

One way to do it is to navigate to a point about 1/2 mile away. Say 270/2500 feet. Do it using only a compass one time. Come back using just a map.

This isn't something I'd do as the first experiment.

One thing I do is navigate to a point with a just a compass to a point about a half mile away in the desert, hide an Altoid can with $10 in it under a bush, then navigate back. Sometime later, I'll go out and find the Altoid can. The $10 seems to give the same sort of fears that being lost does.

If you are interested, I could put a draft copy of a book I'm writing on advanced compass navigaton on Amazon in paperback format. It wouldn't too expensive. This is a form of compass navigation which is extremely accurate and isn't published anywhere else I know of. With practice, I've gotten so I can navigate compass only within 1% of the distance traveled which is about 50 feet error per mile. It's real slow, but it's a lot of fun.

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http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170524 - 10/14/12 09:50 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
The conventional wisdom is if you get lost hug a tree. But there are other things one can do to self rescue without increasing the hazard.

The first step, in my opinion, is to sit down, settle down and make a plan. Decide how long you have been lost and how far you could possibly be from the last place you knew where you were.

Identify a landmark close by you can use as a central reference. It should be something that can be easily found again. I'd build a distinguishable cairn there so I can be sure. Then I'd navigate 500 feet out in each cardinal direction and return to the central reference.

This book has an excellent method of navigating using vectors. It works well for shorter distances of about 1,000 feet or less.

It's not really possible to get lost, but we can not know where we are. The psychological difference is key. The first brings panic; the second brings a methodical method of getting where you want to be.

The word "Methodical" is key. If you practice getting lost and then get found by luck, it's not reproducible. If you have a method of getting back on track, it becomes the same each time and can be practiced.

Along the way, I found a pencil and paper are essential to navigation, so I consider them part of my 10 essentials. I've also found it's devilishly hard to count steps, so I carry ranger beads with me. You could use rocks if you don't have them. I write down each vector followed, so if I get real messed up, I can go back and fix my work. I only travel in 100 foot vectors if I'm trying to navigate precisely.

If you want to get started, using just a compass and pacing, make a map of a neighborhood with a lot of turns in the road. Get a picture from Google Maps. You should find your map is pretty close to Google Earth. Google earth does have errors due to projection errors. (That's my excuse, anyway.)

In my opinion, a person should practice mapping using just a compass and pacing before practicing reorienting themselves when "lost."

Here is an example of a map I made. If you prefer, map a favorite trail.
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#170532 - 10/14/12 12:06 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
Pika Offline
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Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1814
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Gershon, good advice in this post. Thanks.
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#170535 - 10/14/12 02:14 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
Thanks for starting this thread, great ideas coming forth. I'll add mine when I can smile

MNS
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#170536 - 10/14/12 02:30 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
Barefoot Friar Offline
member

Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Houston, Alabama
Thanks, Gershon. I'll play with that this week.
_________________________
"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls."

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#170540 - 10/14/12 04:10 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Gershon, I think you've added some very valuable advice here. I'd only like to add one thing, and that is that I personally think orienteering with a compass is a "perishable" skill. If you don't practice at least somewhat often, a person will get rusty. If a person has books, then re-read them occasionally.
Play around a bit in some local wooded area, or whatever terrain you have available, when you have some spare time. Stay familiar with your (whatever type of compass) equipment.

An old axiom is, that when in a bind, a person skills will drop to their lowest level of their own level of profiecient training.

Looking forward to receiving your book.

J.

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#170542 - 10/14/12 04:47 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: jbylake]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
jbylake,

When I first wrote the book, I got excruciatingly basic and did a step by step programmed text of all the techniques. Each step asked for a lot of repetitions before going to the next step. Ultimately, it ended up with being able to accurately navigate with only the compass at night with no map and doing all the work in your head. It does require some memorization.

Later, I simplified the book to what I thought people might do, but I think I'll go back to the programmed text sometime.

It's what we did in survival school. Each night we were given a bearing and a distance to a point about 7 miles away and we had to bushwhack there at night without flashlights. We also had unfriendlies looking for us, so it had to be done silently. To do it well at night, it takes three people with each knowing their role.

Surprisingly, after I worked through Simple Navigation Off Trails (SNOT) I found almost all the skills can be practiced at my desk to stay sharp. It does take frequent practice to stay at the level of a SNOT ROCKET. (Simple Navigation Off Trails, Remain On Course, Keeping Exact Tracks) Sorry, it's the old military coming out in me.

I found the real joy now is in mapping a smaller area. It makes me go very slowly and notice more things in the area. It's not quick. With all the note taking and calculations, moving at just 1/2 mile an hour is doing good. But how often are we more than 1/2 mile lost when we realize it?

Unlike vector plotting which quickly runs out of paper, I've developed a method which is good for any size area. There is no need to draw a map as you will always know where you are in relation to the start point or a destination far away. You can also get back to any point along your route without retracing the exact route.

In my opinion, a person will be a much better navigator if they learn with just a compass and only incorporate maps later.

If people want to work through the book with exercises, they can be get Selected for Higher Intensity Training.


Edited by Gershon (10/14/12 05:14 PM)
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#170543 - 10/14/12 04:52 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
Barefoot Friar Offline
member

Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Houston, Alabama
Just to clarify, your method takes into account things like impassible streams, cliffs, etc., right?
_________________________
"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls."

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#170544 - 10/14/12 05:13 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By Barefoot Friar
Just to clarify, your method takes into account things like impassible streams, cliffs, etc., right?


Yes. It's not just take a bearing and follow it thing. It allows you to go anyplace a GPS could take you, just slower.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170545 - 10/14/12 05:24 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Deleted: Duplicate post


Edited by Gershon (10/14/12 05:26 PM)
_________________________
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#170547 - 10/14/12 05:48 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Just in case anyone is planning on learning this method, I'll start with the basic of what kind of compass to buy. I'd recommend this one.

It's a military lensatic compass. It's the same compass used by our troops, except without the tritium dial which makes it glow in the dark longer.

The reason I like this compass, it uses a rotating dial which dampens its motion quickly. It has no liquids that can freeze.

Another reason I like it is with the lens, most people will probably be able to read it without glasses.

With practice, you can take a bearing in under 5 seconds including the time to open and close the case.

It's also more accurate than other compasses you hold at waist level to read.

There may be other compasses just as good. I just don't know about them.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170550 - 10/14/12 08:17 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
That's the only point we differ in, I would guess. I prefer the Silva Ranger CL myself. We used the Cammenga built compass in the military exclusively. Was later on when I went with the Ranger type, and stayed with it. The problem with the Cammenga Lensatic is that it can be dented, and become inoperatable, but since everyone had one, that wasn't really a problem. The silva has adjustible declination, a clinometer, sighting mirror, which can also serve as an emergency signal, and a jeweled needle, and I prefer using the clear base with a topo map. Works with the older type 1:24 and newer 1:50 maps also. Other features as well, like a ruler in MM and inches, (sometimes useful). The ranger model also has luminous points.
Never heard of one freezing,the liquid is rated from -40F to 140F, but I suppose that could happen. Cheap liquid filled compasses, can develop air bubbles which impead the needle. I've seen cheap ones in stores with air bubbles already in them.
Anyway, not trying to debate the merits of either, I've used both and they both work extremely well.
(I'd just add that a person not "cheap out" on a compass, no matter what type a person chooses, expecially when your life might depend on it). The lensatic that you linked too, and the Silva Ranger CL are about the same price, and both are top notch, in my book.

I'm also glad that someone brought up the point of accounting for impassible streams, or finding a stream as a land mark, and discovering that it has 20 foot sheer drop granite walls or walk up a gorge.

Can't wait until I get to your advanced portion of the book. S.N.O.T and get Selected for High Intensity Training - maybe you could include a written examination and we could submit it with a nice certificate using those exact acronyms?? laugh laugh Really, It sounds like you've thought everything through, very well, maybe combine both ideas into one, a basic and repetitive section, and the more advanced techniques in section II.?

Good luck with the books, looking forward to reading them.

J.


Edited by jbylake (10/14/12 10:00 PM)

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#170558 - 10/14/12 09:56 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: jbylake]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Well, there are a lot of steps in this program.

The final step is to be Head Of Teaching Special High Intensity Training. Once you reach this level then you can Give a S.H.I.T.

Anyway, the first step is to learn how to be a SNOT. The first two letters, Simple Navigation will be the beginning.

Go out in a park or any open area. Pace at least 20 vectors at least 100 feet long and in varying directions. End back at the beginning. The last vector may be shorter than 100 feet.

Record all the vectors and submit them for grading. I will draw the map and test for accuracy. No gaming the system by going back and forth on the same vector. Make it a challenge or it be Not Official S.H.I.T.

The standard of performance for a passing grade is to navigate within 3% accuracy of the sum of the magnetudes of the vectors. I will use a computer program to grade this, and it's decision is final. The cutoff will be exact.

In order to complete this phase, you must pass the accuracy test five times. They do not need to be in a row.

This Building Up Lower Levels is necessary to Certify Reviewing All Points.


Edited by Gershon (10/14/12 09:58 PM)
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#170560 - 10/14/12 10:18 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: jbylake]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
If you have a better compass, feel free to use it.

Later on, I'll show how to use your arm for a clinometer. It will be close enough. Another simple way is to just observe what happens with your footing while you walk.

When we get to mapping, there will never be a need to lay a compass or ruler on the map or to orient the map. We will grid it in a special way so there is no need to adjust for declination, although I have no objection to doing it that way.

The map will be prepared before using a protractor. Later on, I'll give a computer program that will do the work for you before you go out.

The book is just the very beginning. The ending is to take away both the map and the compass and navigate to a point several miles away in unfamiliar terrain with pretty good accuracy. There is both a day test and a night test on this.

To get this far, all the exercises have to be done enough times so the methods are second nature.


Edited by Gershon (10/14/12 10:26 PM)
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#170566 - 10/15/12 03:48 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
[quote=Gershon]
The book is just the very beginning. The ending is to take away both the map and the compass and navigate to a point several miles away in unfamiliar terrain with pretty good accuracy. There is both a day test and a night test on this......quote].....

grin
I remember, many years ago, going through advanced orientation school, being dropped off at night in a deep marshy and swampy section near Hurlburt Field FL, on a timed exercise of approx 5 miles, in squads of 4. Strictly pass/fail. needless to say, with all the critters that lived in that area, we were highly motivated to complete the night course in well under the allocated time.... grin

Sorry to stray off topic, but when you said night exercises, all the monsters came out from under the bed...never will get back to sleep now....LoL.

J.

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#170567 - 10/15/12 04:51 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
This is indeed an interesting thread, but so far the discussion has centered on only one kind of emergency. I am not so sure you have to create artificial emergencies, losing or forgetting gear, etc. Real life will create these situations soon enough.

I would recommend first aid/emergency medical training. Sooner or later,it will come in handy, not necessarily just in an outdoors setting. Also, perhaps spend an "unexpected" night outdoors. Work on fire starting skills. Creating fire is crucial to a satisfactory conclusion in many situations.

Study up on the subject and learn from the experiences of others. I found that reading the annual issues of "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" quite informative and quite useful when it became my turn in the barrel.

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#170570 - 10/15/12 06:09 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: oldranger]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Old Ranger,

Those are all good points. Here is a good site from the Mayo Clinic on first aid.

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http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170571 - 10/15/12 09:45 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Barefoot Friar]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
The only thing it doesn't account for is the mindset of the lost person. The largest factor in what happens when you're lost has to do with whether you panic or not. If you know you're not really lost, you're not going to do the same things, necessarily, as if you were lost.

That initial "oh sh*t" followed by a string of decisions influenced by adrenalin and whatever level of confidence you might have in yourself is really hard to replicate.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170575 - 10/15/12 10:44 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By lori
The only thing it doesn't account for is the mindset of the lost person. The largest factor in what happens when you're lost has to do with whether you panic or not. If you know you're not really lost, you're not going to do the same things, necessarily, as if you were lost..


I realize you put the disclaimer in, but I feel a person puts the odds overwhelmingly in their favor if they have learned navigation well and simulated being lost, even if it's in a very safe area. By learning, I don't mean reading. I mean getting out in the field and doing it.

The same could be said for first aid. Reading a book doesn't work as well simulating treatment using a live person.

We used to have a saying for people who invented new techniques during an actual inflight emergency: "Different, Dumb and Stupid." This saying would come into a person's mind when they thought about doing something different than they were trained.
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#170578 - 10/15/12 10:49 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Gershon
Originally Posted By lori
The only thing it doesn't account for is the mindset of the lost person. The largest factor in what happens when you're lost has to do with whether you panic or not. If you know you're not really lost, you're not going to do the same things, necessarily, as if you were lost..


I realize you put the disclaimer in, but I feel a person puts the odds overwhelmingly in their favor if they have learned navigation well and simulated being lost, even if it's in a very safe area. By learning, I don't mean reading. I mean getting out in the field and doing it.

The same could be said for first aid. Reading a book doesn't work as well simulating treatment using a live person.

We used to have a saying for people who invented new techniques during an actual inflight emergency: "Different, Dumb and Stupid." This saying would come into a person's mind when they thought about doing something different than they were trained.


We rescue experienced (as in decades) people as often as we do inexperienced.

_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170579 - 10/15/12 11:04 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: lori]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By Gershon
Originally Posted By lori
The only thing it doesn't account for is the mindset of the lost person. The largest factor in what happens when you're lost has to do with whether you panic or not. If you know you're not really lost, you're not going to do the same things, necessarily, as if you were lost..


I realize you put the disclaimer in, but I feel a person puts the odds overwhelmingly in their favor if they have learned navigation well and simulated being lost, even if it's in a very safe area. By learning, I don't mean reading. I mean getting out in the field and doing it.

The same could be said for first aid. Reading a book doesn't work as well simulating treatment using a live person.

We used to have a saying for people who invented new techniques during an actual inflight emergency: "Different, Dumb and Stupid." This saying would come into a person's mind when they thought about doing something different than they were trained.


We rescue experienced (as in decades) people as often as we do inexperienced.


Lori,

In my opinion, experience is not measured in years, but in knowledge and skills gained during those years. If a person does not actively improve their skills themselves with time, it's my feeling there will be a marginal decrease in risk.

As long as the inherent risk of the activity remains the same, the person with more skills should be safer. There will still be the unusual accident, but even these can be largely avoided with some care.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170581 - 10/15/12 11:42 AM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: Gershon]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Gershon


In my opinion, experience is not measured in years, but in knowledge and skills gained during those years. If a person does not actively improve their skills themselves with time, it's my feeling there will be a marginal decrease in risk.

As long as the inherent risk of the activity remains the same, the person with more skills should be safer. There will still be the unusual accident, but even these can be largely avoided with some care.


We are in agreement on the first point. On the second, the person with more skills is only safer if he remains calm and is cognizent of what other risks there are. For example, how does one reconcile the folks who look at a compass, get a reading, and say the compass is broken and ignore it?

Adults have difficulty updating a mental map once it is established, and will do this. Experience doesn't enter the picture. I've experienced this myself and eaten humble pie upon discovering that mental map I started out with was dead wrong. You can be the best compass navigator in the world and fall victim to this problem, if you are one of many forested ridges, and there's not good unique topography to help you triangulate.

So you also need to research and understand some things about your own psychology, if you're truly going to mitigate some of these things. One of them being that you can be wrong, and hopefully can understand and accept it before it leads to fatal mistakes. Hubris and complacency are just as bad as inexperience, sometimes.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#170583 - 10/15/12 12:31 PM Re: Training for Emergencies [Re: lori]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 513
Loc: Virginia
If you really want to practice getting unlost, field exercises are the only way (drop off in the blind and go). The only way you make them safe is if you put a transmitter (like SPOT) on the person/people participating and track them through the exercise. Whether you allow participants to "tap out" is dependant on how seriously you want to take this game, or if you just want to go get them when you think they've floundered enough.

Personally, I'm comfortable with my own level of skill - and its limits - to not go do this as a game. Depending on how seriously you take it, it stops being fun. I'd rather practice staying found.

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