Prepetorial #19: “Preppyers”

Filed under: Prepetorials — John Galt @ 2:52 am Prepetorial #19: “Preppyers”

July 25, 2008

by John Galt

Tonya and Tony were exhausted. They had hiked for an over an hour to the outskirts of Ellisville, MS after abandoning their X5 SUV just outside of Richton, out of gas and too dangerous to keep driving as it attracted too much attention. They had followed all of the advice of their best instincts reading books on the “new survivalism” but when the time came to bug out of their comfortable north Atlanta suburb, they never dreamed how much work it was to hump a seventy pound Jansport pack into the woods of Mississippi in the heat of August. Tonya said her designer Columbia hiking boots were hurting her feet. Tony snapped back “I told you to wear those more often and break them in. We have at least another fifty miles to go and only a day or two to get to Yazoo City.” Tony was depending on the data from his Garmin GPS as he was assured by the salesman at the Bass Pro Shops it would show him the way in any conditions no matter where he was in North America. Tony hoped that this fact held true as the mushroom cloud which lit up what used to be the city of Atlanta left him shaking some two days later.

Tonya asked Tony if he could get any information and he broke out his I-Phone. “Sorry honey,” he said, “still no signal.” She then asked him about the windup Grundig Red Cross radio and he broke that out of his Jansport pack and wound it up. He turned it on the FM band first but nothing other than EAS broadcasts could be tuned in and only three of those at that. He switched it over to the AM band where the static was horrible between the crashes of lightening in the distance and the buzzing heard ever since the war started. He found a local station which his organizer said was in Jackson, MS but it was broadcasting EAS information only. The SW band gave him some hope as some ham operators were operating in the open and clear in the A.M. mode advising folks that there was safety to be found in Yazoo City but the other hams were in what was called Single Sideband and he could not understand what they were saying.

Tonya started to sniffle then, like she was going to cry again when Tony said “Honey, please, not now. We have to get moving again. Put another pair of socks on and let’s get moving.”

Tonya opened her bag up and broke out a pair of her favorite white Victoria Secret’s exercise socks and slipped them on over the first pair. As she sat down on a downed tree, she casually tossed her boots on the ground landing on what she thought was just a branch when suddenly it hissed and struck digging its fangs into her left calf. She screamed out “Tony, HELP!” He wheeled around and saw the rattlesnake in her leg and as the snake withdrew from her leg he hit it with a large heavy branch, either stunning it or killing it as it did not move afterward. Neither of them believed in guns so they trained themselves by reading a lot about what to use for self defense with their bare hands in the wilderness. Tonya grabbed her calf bawling and screaming in agony as the blood started to ooze from the fresh bite wounds.

Tony instantly remembered some of what the books he read said. He told her over and over again to calm down and to sit down on the log. He grabbed her pack and started tossing things out of it on the ground, digging through it in a panic. She cried out “Tony, it’s burning, please do something.” Tony snapped back “Damnit, I’m looking for the first aid kit and the field manual. Hang in there baby!” About two minutes later after dumping her pack on the ground, Tony took out the first aid kit he bought at the Sports Authority but could not find anything in the little book that came with it about snakebites. He remembered seeing a story on television once and said to her “I remember we have to cut the circulation off so it does not seep up to your heart. Sit down over here and stay calm. Let me cut this stick up to make a tourniquet.” Tony hurridly put a tourniquet on her leg just below the left knee and dug through the pile to find the Army Survival Manual he knew he had packed. Tonya, started to hypervenilate and said “are you sure you didn’t leave it in the Beamer?” Tony said “NO! I know I packed it. Let me find it! Stay put and don’t move!” He then dumped his pack on to the ground, frantically looking for the book among the contents of his B.O.B. “Found it!” he screamed out. he flashed hurriedly through the book to the index and found the page on Snakebites on 3-22. He flipped to the page to read what to do and to his shock it said “DO NOT USE A TOURNIQUET”. Instead of following the instructions of the manual, he rapidly removed the restriction and that of course caused a rush of blood into the wound area and an instant scream of pain from his wife.

“Sit tight honey, let me put it back on. I know it said not to use one, but if you were not hurting, let me keep it on while I go get some help. I saw a town about a mile away and could run there quickly.” With that Tony tied the tourniquet back on and gave her two Tylenol tablets then ran towards town without even thinking. Tonya, in great pain, laid down, hoping to grab some sleep while he sought help.

As Tony approached the small town of Ellisville,  he noticed it looked like a ghost town. He saw a small church not far from the cemetary and ran screaming towards it “Help, Help, is anyone here?” A tall sheriff’s deputy stepped out from behind the church in full tactical gear and yelled back at him “Halt or I’ll shoot!” and with that Tony held his hands up. He pleaded at the deputy “Sir my wife and I are refugees from Atlanta. She is in the woods about a mile southeast of here and she has been bitten by a rattlesnake. I’m not armed, please don’t shoot me, I came here for help!” The deputy lowered his AR-15 and got on the radio calling for the town’s doctor, “Doc we have another snakebite, I need your help.I’m out here by the graveyard.” The Doctor had a small pack and looked at Tony with a distrustful look and said “I’ve got the anti-venom, where is she son?” Tony, still excited from having a rifle pointed at him and his run into town said “about a mile southeast of here, I can take her to you.”

With that exchange the Doc, the deputy and Tony headed out of town. He was freaking out as the Doctor kept asking him questions like “what kind of snake?” Tony replied a rattlesnake I guess, it was about five feet long and had a rattle on it it’s tail. The deputy muttered “city folk” and kept the pace with Tony while watching the woods with the rifle ready to go in case this was an ambush. As they entered into the forest about two hundred yards deep Tony realized he did not recognize the surroundings. He called out “Tonya, Tonya, where are you honey?” The deputy said “this is not a wild goose chase is it son?” Tony cried back “no, it’s not, my wife is out here dying.”

After about forty-five minutes, Tony spotted some of the material he had dumped out of his pack and yelled to the doctor and deputy “over here” and waved frantically for them to come on over. As he approached the log where he had left her, the mess they had made looking for the manual and the first aid kit was everywhere but she was gone. “Oh God, where could she have gone! Tonya! Tonya!” he started screaming. “Calm down son, that’s not going to help” the deputy said. “Were you two mugged or attacked or something? These packs are scattered everywhere and it doesn’t look right” the deputy asked. Tony, crying now, huffed back “no sir, we were looking for the first aid kit and survival manual. I have no idea where she could be. I put a tourniquet on her leg to keep the venom from her heart and I know she couldn’t walk.” The doctor and deputy both snapped around “you did what?!?” The doctor said “we don’t have much time. Let’s look for blood or tracks, she’s probably dragging the leg and went looking for him” pointing at Tony with disdain. Tony grabbed the I-Phone out of his pocket desperately calling her cell phone but the “NO SERVICE” was still being displayed full color on the little LCD screen. “Where could she be, oh God, I’m so sorry” Tony cried out. Suddenly the deputy yelled out  from a steep drop off into a ditch about five hundred yards west of where they were, “Over here Doc, there’s no hurry.”

Sad? Certainly. True? Not yet, obviously, Atlanta is still there, still hot and still full of yuppies and preppies who think camping consists of a RV with the Dish Network and a generator with a keg cooler, etc. There is a sad reality that there are people who think that having the latest, greatest, most expensive and chic gear makes them the best preppers. The ultimate “new” survivalists because they have toys that others only dream about.

In reality there is nothing further from the truth. This prepetorial is not a criticism of those who can afford the newest, best or ultimate in equipment but more of a focus on knowing how to use it. Most people have enough common sense to operate a firearm with proper training and practice. But how many people would know the difference between the back of a deer’s head and another hunter in the same forest flashing in front of their scope? How many people in a TSHTF scenario have ever treated (yes, I have on my own leg) a real poisonous snakebite or even practiced? Does anyone honestly think the chic yuppies who have all the “coolest” and most expensive gear have ever had to sterilize and purify water in the field or recognize what plants are edible in the wild and which are not?

There is more to surviving than just having a big wallet or credit card. Practice is one thing. Knowledge and experience is another. All of us have let our skills get rusty to some degree or another, as the creature comforts of life and the comforts of living without the actual end as we know it makes us put it off for another day. Honestly, how many of us have put our BOB’s on and tried to hike with it for a mile? Two miles? Five miles?

For further consideration, what equipment you select and train with is more important than any thing else you will learn. Having a shortwave radio is one thing. Having a shortwave radio that you can use and know how to is much more important. Just like the first aid kit in the story above; having is one thing, knowing what to do is another. In the situation above, the yuppies did not plan for a snakebite and in reality if you know the terrain and surroundings you are entering it is very rare to deal with such a problem. A poisonous snakebite need not be fatal and if you have the proper equipment and take the time to read almost any field manual, be it the Boy Scout manual or an Army field manual then practice or simulate treating a wound. Selecting what goes into your BOB and your bug in kits are crucial to your ability to survive. If you live in a desert region with no lakes or streams, buying fishing gear is somewhat of a waste. By the same token, buying desert cammo because it “looks good” when you live in the swamps is not the brightest move in the world either.

Planning to have a Plan

First and foremost, you had best have a plan put together and then a plan to put that plan into action. Sounds complicated does it not? Well it is never too late nor too hard to do this. Your first object lesson should be to study your environment then plan whether or not you can bug out or should. If you elect to leave the comforts of home the next step is to determine where to go. Then you can start to plan the materials you will need, the duration, the people you can or will agree to let you tag along with and most importantly the skills needed to survive in different environs. It does not help to panic when a problem causes a deviation from the plan to practicing for as many different random events is of the utmost importance. For instance, assuming the system does collapse and you are stuck in the middle of the woods in south central Florida, there will be no NOAA or National Hurricane Center to warn you of a hurricane heading your way. That requires having the skill and foresight to determine as survival plan in the wild to endure such an event. The Indians did it for centuries, although with varying degrees of success so you had best learn that also.

In the story above the yuppies had a GPS for a post-nuclear world. If this war was the result of an exchange, what good would such a device do? The military would certainly scramble the signals or turn off civilian access leaving someone with one of those devices blind as a bat. Learning how to read the stars, maps and orienteering will take you a lot further than a GPS in any event where there is a breakdown of the social order. Not to mention a compass and a laminated set of maps is considerably lighter.

So please, make a plan, several of them if need be. Then make a plan to implement each of them as needed. Crazy as that sounds, it is a starting place to survive an uncertain future.

The Latest and Greatest Isn’t Always Just That

Sometimes buying Army surplus for half the price is better than the newest Dick’s Sporting Goods special. A lot of us are on tight budgets trying to make sure you have enough to cover all potential outcomes but at the same time not wanting to break the bank. I fear that those folks who depend on modern technology to get by in a bleak future will be given a slap upside the head in very short order when their MREs run out and to actually have to shoot, skin and cook something becomes the order of the day. The idea of making a salad out of plants found in the wild makes many squeamish, but if you know what to do it can be quite tasty. Try convincing one of your business partners on the golf course one day that possum with Tabasco sauce is not bad, especially over an open fire and see how much interest he (or she) shows. Just sleep comfortable in having that knowledge or experience and do not settle for less. Having the tools and implements to do the job, not necessarily the most expensive tools and implements is what matters.

I can buy a first class First Aid kit at LL Bean for $99. But I can make a better one designed for the environs of Florida, Georgia or Tennessee, my selected bug out locations, for half that price. Please folks, study what you need and acquire that and do not get boxed into the one super kit or tool fits all solutions. I doubt seriously that I will have to plan for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in my region but to say I had best have the ability and tools to deal with snake bites, spider bites or scorpions is an understatement. You have to plan for where you are, where you will be and where you plan to be. Not buying “things” for the sake of saying “see what I got” which means squat when the fan begins to spew that collateral splatter.

Old School v. New School

This should touch off the big debate and of course, I welcome it on the various message boards I reside on. There has always been an “old school” versus “new school” debate about survivalism which I have tended to stay out of. I prefer to just do it, learn from it and make sure that I don’t put myself or my family at risk in the future. The old school point is to just practice, learn a set of skills, master them and teach those willing to learn. The new school, from my point of view, is that having the best money can buy and the books or videos to watch is just enough. Folks, as the fictional story above illustrates, it is my opinion that the new school ideal just does not cut it. If I have to look for a manual, find the pages needed and then react to a poisonous snakebite then what good am I? I would have allowed my wife to suffer needless pain for minutes when the treatment is quick, easy and can easily prevent illness or a fatality. Believe me, I got somewhat ill after treating my own bite but after getting most of the venom out, it passes through your system if you follow the instructions you learned in the past instead of getting excited and freaking out. I could have added an “I-book” to the story above as the location for the manual to give you the idea that some people think that is all they need to get by. In reality experience, knowledge and training will get you further. Knowing what to pack, where you’re going and the critters you could encounter helps more than all the Garmins, I-Phones and LL Bean specials ever will.

Call me “old school” but if you don’t have the ability to react off instinct, then your time in the wild or hiding from a TEOTWAWKI societal collapse will be short and sweet.

And no, please, do not get out and try to get a real snakebite for your practice. Mine was an accident due to my own stupidity and it was a lesson learned the hard way. Treat the time you have now to prepare like gold, as it can compress and get short in very short order. Make your plan now. And remember surviving ugly looks better than looking good and pretty on a slab in your designer BDUs.

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