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#289387 - 06/14/18 01:47 AM Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 904
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Yesterday I went through a group social exercise at work that used an interesting survival situation. Part 1 of the exercise was to prioritize a list of 15 items that were salvaged from an airplane crash - ranking them in order of importance for survival. We originally sorted the list by ourselves and then re-sorted the list as a group of five people using techniques to persuade and discuss the rationale. Then we compared the results to what the experts decided was the priority.

Then we calculated our scores - the difference in the order from what the experts ranked them. Therefore, if the expert ranked an item as fourth important and I ranked the item as seventh in importance the difference scores were three places. We did the same with the group scoring. In short, the room of 40+ people had total scores from 20 to 80 that differed from the experts and the group collectives had scores from 16 to 44 that differed from the experts.

I thought I would offer up to you the same basic scenario and ask how you would have ranked the same items.

Scenario: You and your group were travelling in Northern Quebec/Newfoundland by floatplane and your plane goes down at 2:30 p.m. on October 5. Your plane was 31 miles off course and still 22 miles (as the crow flies) out from your destination - a remote iron ore mining town of 5,000. The location is 54°40'43"N 66°16'16"W. The hilly terrain is rocky northern tundra/boreal forest with many small lakes and rivers, and muskeg swamps. There are small evergreen trees and bush. There is snow cover of between 4"-7" with drifts that can be 24"-30" deep. Your pilot died in the crash and the plane sank into the lake. A flight plan was filed but you were not expected to be overdue until October 19.

You and your four companions are all uninjured but you are all wet from the waist down as you exited the plane and you are heavily perspiring from the shock of the event. You are adequately dressed for the climate: insulated underwear, socks, wool caps, heavy wool shirt, pants, gloves, sheepskin jackets, and heavy leather hunting boots. (You look like a lumberjack and you don't care!). Your collective possessions include $153 in cash, 2 half-dollars, 4 quarters, 2 dimes, 1 nickel and 3 new pennies; 1 pocket knife with 2 blades and an awl; one lead pencil stub; one map.

Task: Your team salvaged 15 items before the plane sank and you are to rank these items in order of importance (1-most important to 15-least important). You also have to make the decision of whether to stay in place and wait for help or to try to walk to the mining town. Your rankings will reflect your choice of action. Please explain your rationale for choosing the order; this may include your assessment of your own skills and experience. HAVE FUN!

1 Magnetic compass
1 4-litre (1-gal) can of maple syrup (this is Canada you know)
1 Sleeping bag per person (arctic, down filled with liner)
1 Bottle of water purification tablets
1 7m X 7m (23' X 23') piece of HD canvas
13 Wooden matches in metal screw top waterproof container
75m (250') of rope (0.5mmØ, 250kg test or 3/16"Ø, 550 lb test braided nylon)
1 Operating 4-cell flashlight
3 Pairs of snowshoes
1 Bottle 750ml (26oz) of Bacardi Rum (151 proof)
1 Safety razor shaving kit with mirror
1 Wind-up alarm clock
1 Hand axe
1 Aircraft inner tube for 35cm (14") wheel (punctured)
1 Book - Northern Star Navigation

#289388 - 06/14/18 01:59 AM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Roarmeister]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 904
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Almost forgot: these are the weather conditions you will probably experience.

#289389 - 06/14/18 02:11 AM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Roarmeister]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1472
Loc: North Carolina
Interesting exercise. I would still think in terms of priorities of Shelter (maintaining a safe body temperature, water, fire, and be signaling as much as possible. 22 miles in that terrain can take a while, but you have what you need to self rescue, but it should not be rushed. You flew on the 5th, but will not be overdue until the 19th? That is a big difference. So your map is more important now. You will need to get yourself out, you don't have enough food for that long and little to collect it with. You will need skill, patience and determination to make it out with those resources.

#289392 - 06/14/18 02:40 AM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Roarmeister]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 904
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I almost defeated the point of the exercise. It was meant to see how people respond and interact with each other. Normally a group would get their heads together and discuss the situation and come up with their ranking that would be better than any one person alone. Hence "synergy" was the name of the game and the name of the company who came up with this.

90% of groups who have taken this exercise improve beyond the average score in their group. 50% of the groups improve beyond the best score in their group. Occasionally you will find someone in a group will score low but because he isn't persuasive enough he can't get the others to see his rationale and the group scores worse than the individual. The Challenge of Achieving Synergy

In this one, my "enthusiasm" got the better of me (oh, this is right up my alley!) and I charged right out of the gate laying down my rationale - I mentioned the need for the S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan) for the situation and list my top 3 priorities and that I thought each item should have a minimum of 2 uses. With that philosophy established, I opened the floor for discussion on the order. Well, it worked - I had the lowest score of anyone in the room (20) and with my guidance, we discussed each of the 15 items, there was some give and take, a consensus was reached and we improved to a very low score of 16. A perfect score would be 0 -- that is, 100% agreement with the experts.

I did a little googling on this little survival exercise. It seems it originated in 1973 by a Canadian HR company called Human Synergistics and that the scenario was inspired by a real-life incident in the late 1960's. The experts are the Search and Rescue team based out of Summerside, P.E.I., Canada and this is in their SAR territory.

#289397 - 06/14/18 04:02 AM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Montanero]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6816
Loc: southern Cal
Fortunately you can arrange shelter and a fire rather quickly which is good. You have basics for navigation and snowshoes. I would consider sending two toward the town in a day or two while the rest signal like crazy. after the first day, you should have an idea of frequency of air traffic in the area.

Based on that assessment, you might all want to stay there.

Great exercise. More work is needed....
Geezer in Chief

#289406 - 06/14/18 01:49 PM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Roarmeister]
Jeanette_Isabelle Offline

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 2017
Loc: Somewhere in Florida
I'll take a stab at it.

Edit: Twenty-two miles away. I misread what you wrote. My plan was based on a misunderstanding of the distance.

Noone is injured. We go to the next priority. Everbody is wet. The first thing we need to do is build a fire. Matches would be first on the list. We may have some firewood on the ground; that would not be enough. The ax would be second because we need fuel.

1. Matches
2. Ax

We have firewood; do we have tender? We probably do. However, we may have to look at our supplies. What do we have? A piece of cloth dipped in rum will work; where would we get the cloth? Also, we need to save every bit of rum we have. I'm not sure about this one.

Sheltering is next. For that, we have the sleeping bags, canvas and rope. I would organize in order of multi-usefulness.

3. Rope
4. Tarp
5. Sleeping bag

Next, we need water. We have the water purification tablets. They will go next on the list; what would we use as a water container. We have two; one currently holds maple syrup and the other rum. We need to save both of them. The punctured inner tube could be cut (with the pocket knife we already have) to improvise as a water container.

6. Water purification tablets
7. Inner tube

Since we are sheltering in place, we need to signal. We have the campfire. We can also use a piece of the inner tube to create black smoke if we believe someone is looking for us in the general area. We also need a signal mirror.

8. Shaving kit.

We will need light at night. Moreover, the flashlight can be used for night time signaling.

9. Flashlight.

With the snow around, the snowshoes will help us to get the things our camp needs.

10. Snowshoes

We can use the rope to make a fishing net to get food. Plain fish is boring. We need rum and maple syrup to go with the fish. Since rum is more versatile of the two, rum has a higher priority.

11. Rum
12. Maple syrup

We're not going anywhere. The compass is of little use to us. However, stuff happens. If we have to relocate the camp, it is best to do so in the right direction. Something more important than the compass is the book since it can be used for other things. The blank pages can be used to make notes.

13. Book
14. Compass

Waiting can be boring. We will need the clock for comfort.

15. Clock

Jeanette Isabelle

Edited by Jeanette_Isabelle (06/14/18 06:50 PM)
"Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble." -- Frederick Henry Royce

#289409 - 06/14/18 02:45 PM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Jeanette_Isabelle]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6816
Loc: southern Cal
Agree in general with your priorities, but the town is closer - 22 miles. I would consider walking to the town, so the snowshoes might be handy. Could three on snowshoes break trail for the two following -possible depending on conditions. it is much better for the group to stick together, rather than separate.

I don't think the water purification tablets rank very high. you are in pristine, or nearly pristine, wilderness, so drink up. Just stay away from the wreck site. There is contamination from fuel and oil.

you need that book because you will navigate by stars - your compass is unreliable because of your location close to the N mag pole and the sharply dipping lines of magnetic force - no practical experience, just what it says in the books. Hopefully the compass has a mirror.

Build that fire, use that mirror as if your life depended on it, because it does!! after a day or so, you will have a notion of the frequency of aircraft in your vicinity, which will affect your decision as to travel or not.

Colder weather makes it easier to travel and walking keeps you warm. Consider walking in the late night (after 2 AM and into the dawn, stopping when and if conditions get sloppy). A day or two and you should make town - again, no experience travelling in muskeg - will be interested in AKSAR's opinion.

Small game should be around -beavers, muskrats, etal. probably edible plants as well,if someone knows their stuff. Risky to experiment but there are protocols. The axe and pocket knife can fashion game getting implements (sharp sticks) and maybe even traps. Flavor the meat with some of the maple syrup, but leave the booze alone - reserve it for fire accelerant.

I think the key is to shelter, warm up, dry out, SIGNAL, and assess conditions. If you can scrounge food, it might make sense to stay put. After all, most of us carry survival rations around out waist.

The clock might be useful in navigation. The N star will be fairly high in the sky and you will need to use the relative position of surrounding constellations to be sure of direction - again no practical experience.

i see we did not salvage any TP. Snowballs work even better, so the is no issue with tissue- practical experience speaking....

Great problem!!
Geezer in Chief

#289411 - 06/14/18 02:51 PM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Roarmeister]
LCranston Offline

Registered: 08/31/09
Posts: 172
Loc: Nebraska
OMG, we did this in 6th grade, but it was a different location. (sahara, I think) We did one in Jr. High where it was the moon, lol.

I would observe that your temperature graph has errors, almost all of your Fahrenheit temperatures are listed as negatives; I am pretty sure the High temp is not -69. I assume it should be +69.

K, lets get this party started.
After we S.T.O.P. , lets consider the rule of 3.
3 minute without air
3 Hours without Shelter
3 Days without Water
3 Weeks without Food.

Since this is not the Moon, I would submit that our priorities are Shelter, Water.
We have 10,000 calories of Maple Freaking Syrup, we are not starving today.

We have sleeping bags for each, a large tarp and ropes, so we have supplies for Shelter....

My biggest concern is storing and cleaning water; we have a 1 gallon container, but it currently holds all our calories....


#289415 - 06/14/18 03:35 PM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Roarmeister]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1093
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Already everyones thoughts helped me prioritize. Hadn't thought about the clock being used for dead reckoning.

I have made snowshoes from tree branches and they worked okay on the flat, especially if someone else broke trail. They did need to be frequently retied on the foot. With the snow depth of 4" to 7" I don't think there is a need in this case. (If we are talking 6 feet of powder it would likely be a no go with forest made snow shoes either.)

That sounds like a big piece of canvas. It could be made in to several thing with the pocket knife, ---an overhead shelter, ground cover or browse bag, sled or packpack , ponchos, rubbed for tinder, turned to char cloth.turned to strips for cordage (backpack straps, etc).

I would bring all the insulation, shelter and food, navigation and walk out as a group. Bound to be airplanes and sno machines as town is approached.

#289417 - 06/14/18 03:50 PM Re: Prioritize 15 items for subarctic survival [Re: Roarmeister]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1472
Loc: North Carolina
The snowshoes and some rope could be used to construct a crude pack. I would be very hesitant to cut the canvas.

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