Sunday, 13 October 2013

Playing The Outdoors Game

Over the last while I have noticed what seems to be an increasing number of rescues of those who have managed to get into situations that in many cases never should have come about in the first place. There are those who have a high, even arrogant opinion of their abilities (many of these do have a very high degree of skill) and will head off into areas that may be closed for the season or into areas that are known to be extremely risky for any number of reasons though they know they should not be there they are ‘good enough’ to handle anything that may arise. In addition to these we now have the adventure tourists, people who pay at times what are extraordinary fees for the ‘right’ to attempt what only the few, rare extremely skilled experts in the field of endeavour they are entering would ever attempt. Then in some cases they then proceed to ignore the advice of those experts because they have paid for the adventure they are going to see it through even when warned that it is for whatever reason no longer safe to proceed. Then of course there are those with no skills or any idea of what they are doing other that partaking something they always thought it might be nice to try, they saw the video and it looks simple.

Once upon a time there was the expectation that one needed to be able to get themselves out of trouble and that the knowledge that yes once you got out there, wherever that place may be, that you where on your own. With that came the knowledge that if things went wrong you may not come home so you had better be ready for all eventualities. A couple of years ago I was talking to a scout leader who had recently taken an advanced first aid course which included scenarios that involved life and death decisions he said that they made him consider things he had never thought of before and that he came close to no longer leading the kids on trips.

 Now when asked if they are ready for any emergencies that may arise while they are pursuing their particular adventure, many will proudly show off their sat phone, and locator device and that is often the extent of the planning. How about a first aid kit and the skills to use it? What at one time took weeks or months of meticulous training and planning in addition to the time spent in the acquisition of the appropriate skills has been replaced with these devices, and the attendant expectation that when you hit the button someone will come running and do so in a timely fashion, timely being defined by the person with the problem. This is what I refer to as the gamer mentality, all you need to do is hit reset and you get out of the situation that you have found yourself in with no real consequences. That mythical creature the taxpayer gets the bill and on you go to try again next year, reset complete.

The other thing that has come with this is the lowering of what defines in many minds what an emergency is, people who feel that sending out a rescue chopper for them because the weather is going to hold them up and they may be late for work so it is only reasonable as far as they are concerned.

For those who may interested our normal practise even for something as simple as a day paddle,  we carry a ditch bag (I will admit that this may not happen in areas where we are paddling close to shore in a well populated area) it contains a couple of space blankets, a water filter, matches, compass, a few emergency munchies and whatever other supplies are appropriate for the situation. What that means is that if I paddle a half day into a park or any other area and something goes wrong I will not even be real hungry until the second day of my one day paddle.  These things are kept in a dry bag so when we head out all you have to do is add some food (today’s lunch doesn't count) and the first aid kit and you are on your way. It also means that I don’t have to depend on cell phone reception or someone else to get me out of what is not an emergency but an uncomfortable inconvenience.