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#238038 - 12/27/11 07:26 AM Why the guys you read about have no gear?
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2841
Loc: Big Sky Country
It seems like nearly every rescue (or fatality) we hear about involves people with no or very little gear. I'm sure one reason for this is that by and large most people aren't all that prepared. But do you think that the reason you rarely read about a very prepared person is because the prepared folks know how to stay out of trouble in the first place? I mean, the people that can make fire by friction and a debris shelter that can get them thru a winter's night probably also know how to use a map & compass and a GPS.
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

#238039 - 12/27/11 10:27 AM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
GarlyDog Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/05/07
Posts: 776
Loc: The People's Republic of IL
We all have the capacity for great stupidity and bad luck. It's part of the human condition. The thing about stupidity is that it knows no bounds so new ways to be stupid are being formed as we speak.

While being prepared helps, a lot, the random nature of bad luck can still put a lifesaving whistle 1" out of reach even if you carried it 24x7x365 around your neck. Sometimes you just don't win, regardless.

#238041 - 12/27/11 12:55 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7415
Loc: southern Cal
Don't even begin to think that the news media give a comprehensive picture of SAR activity. A lot of rescues and operations go completely unnoticed or are buried in the middle pages. The ones that do get attention have some kind of angle - something unusual or bizarre that attracts interest - the sort of thing that draws readers. It helps if the operation lasts a long time, as well.

Still I don't doubt that many people are unprepared for any kind of calamity, not even a little bit. Experience helps give folks a idea of the hazards in a particular situation and they are more likely to avoid trouble or deal with it on their own. Most of the SAR victims I have encountered were both inexperienced and usually unprepared. Same thing applied to me when I was starting out.
Geezer in Chief

#238043 - 12/27/11 01:36 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
gonewiththewind Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
Those that think toward preparation naturally think more about how to avoid getting into trouble. Navigation, proper clothing for the environment, basic necessities like water and food, all can turn what is an emergency for an unprepared person into an uncomfortable night out (to paraphrase Peter Kumerfeldt). Proper planning makes you aware of the potential hazards and makes you think about how to avoid them. "Preppers" generally don't get into trouble because they prepare, physically and mentally. They are more aware of where they are going, where they are and how to get from one place to another. They generally are more familiar with their routes, and have maps and compasses or GPSs and know how to use them. So, the people who prepare for bad things are the least likely to experience those bad things. Preparing is much more than having the right equipment, and that process makes you much less likely to be faced with an emergency situation.

#238045 - 12/27/11 02:22 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
TimDex Offline

Registered: 06/13/10
Posts: 56
Loc: New York State
This would be the point where one of my favorite posters, Susan, would come in with a comment...except she hasn't posted in several weeks. I wonder why?


#238049 - 12/27/11 04:30 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
Teslinhiker Offline

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1413
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Montanero summed it up best. And just to add or explain a bit differently:

Those who are prepared, are also generally educated in outdoors safety and navigation etc. They for the most part, know when stop and seek/create shelter or to turn back when the weather, terrain or people's physical or physiological conditions have deteriorated and any further travel is detrimental.

That is not to say that those who are prepared do not need rescue. Around here, the various SAR teams rescue experienced and well equipped people and also those who are not prepared.

When it comes to the news reporting though, what makes better headlines?

1) A non-dramatic rescue where SAR finds the prepared people who are delayed due to weather, minor injury but safe with proper gear, signalling, shelter and fire to stay warm etc. The resulting rescue effort is usually not much more then guiding the people out to safety.


2) A stranded skier rescued from a mountain which required an almost herculean 16 hour SAR operation over Christmas Eve and Christmas day where SAR teams had to deal with deep snow, steep terrain, 40 knot winds and heavy sleet and not to mention that 2 choppers were pulled back due to the weather.

Guess which storyline is more likely to get the media attention and conversely, discussions on forums such as here?

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

#238050 - 12/27/11 04:56 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: TimDex]
MDinana Offline

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2196
Loc: Beer&Cheese country
Originally Posted By: TimDex
This would be the point where one of my favorite posters, Susan, would come in with a comment...except she hasn't posted in several weeks. I wonder why?

i can't tell if you're being serious or not. PM me if you are.

#238053 - 12/27/11 05:27 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1918
Loc: Washington, DC
I'd second others observations that what garners media interest probably is not an entirely accurate representation of all that's happening with SAR.

I also would bet a good deal that those who are mindful of the need to carry survival gear also tend to be more likely to be more cautious overall before venturing out (i.e. monitoring weather, informing others of routes and arrival time, scrutinizing maps, etc.)

And I suspect a lot of us would confess that but for the grace of God in our younger days we could very well have ended up in a survival situation with little or no gear or survival skills.

I grew up in rural Oregon and spent a lot of time as a teenager and 20-something driving by myself or with similarly ill-equipped and ignorant friends in the Cascades -- in all kinds of weather. We routinely hiked and rafted with NONE of the ten essentials. And none of us wore seatbelts back then, either....

I feel very lucky to have survived my first 30 years without my lack of preparedness and experience coming face-to-face with a serious survival situation. Though today orders of magnitude more prepared, I'm still only a mistake or some bad luck away from a very bad day.

But at least now I'll have Lipton's Cup O' Noodles soup and down booties to help me through.....

#238056 - 12/27/11 05:52 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
TeacherRO Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2513
I think its because... they don't expect to get into trouble. " Why prepare if it ain't gonna happen?"

#238057 - 12/27/11 05:55 PM Re: Why the guys you read about have no gear? [Re: Phaedrus]
Bingley Offline

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1457
Reading this thread drove home for me the point that diving disasters are in a way more "decisive." If anything happens beneath the surface and you don't get rescued within the hour (usually less), you are probably dead from the lack of air. No herculean tales of human endurance there. If something happens on the surface (e.g., the boat loses you), ah, I suppose there are more possibilities, but you aren't exactly going to start a fire to keep warm.

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