David Crossley has had over 80 articles and short stories published, covering a wide variety of business, military, survival, and general interest topics. These are just a few examples.
This example is clipped from the introductory chapter David wrote in 2012 for the Ludlow Survival Group publication Streetcraft - A Ludlow Survival Group Guide to Urban Survival Preparedness and Response which has been compiled, edited and largely written by David. Streetcraft is available in print from Lulu and as a Kindle e-book from Amazon via the Links page of this or the LSG websites.
The majority of people in the UK, and most other countries, live and/or work in cities or towns. Even those who live in rural areas tend to visit towns for shopping or socialising. It is inevitable, therefore, that if a disaster happens that is where most people will be. If you are reading this then you probably consider that you might be among them!
Streetcraft is a term I have adopted for Urban Survival for much the same reasons as Bushcraft has become popular as an alternative to Survivalism. It isn't unique, I have found references elsewhere for various ideas of what the term represents, but for us while the concept is similar to Bushcraft, Streetcraft differs in context. In both we look at alternative ways of doing things and might often adopt or adapt those used by our ancestors, which in some cases are still used in less technologically developed societies, but in Streetcraft we will not ignore modern technology if it might still be available to us in extreme circumstances.
LSG is primarily a preparedness group, rather than concentrating on either bushcraft or other purely reactive techniques, and in Streetcraft, instead of looking to the wilderness and its features and creatures, we look at ways we can both prepare and adapt the resources found in the urban environment to provide for the basics of life. So we consider what you can store at home as well as what you might put in a bug out bag, and instead of starting a fire with a fire bow and plant fibres we are more likely to consider how to do so using a mobile phone or car battery and the contents of a First Aid At Work first aid box. Instead of discussing how to protect yourself from snakes we are more likely to talk about how to keep either burglars or looters or floodwater out of your home and in Streetcraft we will do that in relation to the urban dwellings. This will, I hope, make the things we consider in this series of articles more relevant to the majority of readers, most of whom we expect will, like most of the population of our planet, live, work, or shop in a city or town.
War, terrorism, riots and arson, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, flood, bush or forest fire, avalanche, industrial disaster; any of these and more can bring devastation and misery to an urban setting. Buildings collapse and are swept away, power and communications fail, fires burst out and spread rapidly, communities are buried or drowned or contaminated. And what is left? Broken buildings that could collapse at any time; rubble, glass, and torn-metal strewn streets; spilled chemicals; radioactive waste; raw sewage; rotting bodies; live power cables; leaking gas and fuel; deep water; dangerous wild and domestic animals; foul weather; no transport or routes it could use; no communications; no help for days at least; and people, some desperate to escape, some desperate for help, some desperate to grab anything that might help them to survive, some eager to take advantage of the opportunity to help themselves to anything they fancy regardless of the hurt they cause others in the process, and a tiny minority who have survived and have prepared to continue doing so.
This is the scenario in which you could find yourself.
You could be lucky. You could be at home, outside the area of worst devastation, without power or clean water or communications, possibly cut off by damaged or flooded roads, but otherwise unhurt and with everything around you intact, yet still facing some definite challenges. Or you could be in the middle of it all. We will consider both scenarios, and what you can do to help yourself in either case.
And in either case the key to survival is preparedness, mental and physical.
The basics of Streetcraft are the same as the requirements for survival anywhere: shelter, warmth, water, food, and protection – physical and medical. You might also need to communicate, signal, or navigate to aid your survival. What differs of course is what you might have and how you would provide for your needs in the 2 urban scenarios we are considering. For the sake of clarity, we will divide the 2 scenarios into different sections – Streetcraft at Home, and Streetcraft on the Move. In ‘At Home you are looking at ways to continue or adapt your normal way of life, in On the Move we are discussing raw survival.
Because this guide is intended for people in the UK, we will consider the resources most likely to be available to you in the UK and the conditions here, accepting that in summer some areas get short of water and in others winter brings lots of snow, but we are in neither the arctic nor a desert. If you live elsewhere and can have other things with you that might provide additional help, consider them a bonus, if you face more extreme conditions you will want to extend many of the preparations we will cover.
In this introduction I will cover the basic concepts and then our members will contribute the benefit of their study and experience in ways of providing for each of the needs in each of the scenarios. Some of the requirements and methods used might well be similar to those of other environments e.g. rural homesteads or wilderness bug outs, but the resources available and therefore the appropriate techniques will differ. For example while you might opt to improvise a shelter from branches and leaf debris in the wilderness, you are more likely to use materials from wrecked buildings or vehicles in a city. Your sources and concerns for water and fire and food and health will also differ.
So, how can you survive a disaster in the urban environment? Read on!
In preparing to survive at home you need to consider all the things you require to be totally self-sufficient for at least 2 weeks, but you might want to extend that for a considerably longer period. How long? Some people believe 3 months is a minimum; others go for 6 months or even 2 years! It depends on whether you believe that likely scenarios will be quickly resolved by a return to governmental control and restoration of services, or anticipate the need to provide for you and yours for the rest of your lives. In the latter case, 2 years gives you a reasonable time to establish yourself in ways to provide ongoing supplies, though for that you would be better in a rural setting.
What do you have to include for total self-sufficiency? Consider that for your chosen time period there will be no outside source of:
Electricity – for heating, cooling, light, cooking, heating water, communication i.e. TV, radio, computer, telephone, or for charging batteries, or entertainment
Gas – where you use that for any of the above instead of electricity
Water – for drinking, washing or toilet flushing
Food, medicines including regular prescriptions, cleaning materials, toilet paper, toothpaste or other items you would routinely buy from the shops
Transport or fuel
Emergency services i.e. doctor or ambulance, police, fire service, plumber, glazier, gasman, etc
Undertaker or funeral services
Make a careful review of all the services and utilities you now use and what you use them for and then consider the alternatives. You might decide to change your normal source of supply for something more sustainable e.g. could you install better insulation and use an open fire instead of central heating, or a multi-fuel stove instead of electric? Could you use a bike instead of your car? Could you buy or build a compost bin for food waste, burn much of your hard waste, feed some food scraps to the birds, move to fresh and unwrapped foods instead of pre-packaged, so that you rely less on council rubbish removal or recycling services? Could you change from lawns and flower borders to vegetable plots and a rabbit hutch? Would a solar powered security light outside your house serve as well as your current mains power one? Or you might opt for more temporary solutions such as a portable gas stove and heater; long life tinned and packaged foods; a stock of batteries, etc.
Or you might combine the 2 approaches, having disposable resources to get you through disruptions of short duration with as little inconvenience as possible, or to lessen the shock and give you time to adapt if the emergency goes on for longer, and renewable options for the even longer term. It mainly depends on how and how long you want to prepare for, and your own circumstances e.g. whether you live in a suburban semi-detached house or a 9th floor one bedroom flat.
I suggest that even if you only prepare for relatively short-term emergencies that you consider the possibility of shortages preceding them, or that they might go on for longer than you expect. So, for example, it makes sense to me to have a solar or dynamo rechargeable lamp and radio rather than one that runs on disposable batteries, or at least use rechargeable batteries and a solar charger for them rather than disposable batteries. You can apply similar principles to your other preparations and such alternatives might even save you money in the long run.
But some needs are less simple than providing battery back-ups to replace mains power or tinned foods to replace fresh. If you can no longer rely on being able to call a glazier or plumber to repair damage to your home you will need tools, materials, reference books and some skills to be able to do at least a temporary job yourself. If there are rioters and looters on the rampage and you cannot call the police you need to be prepared to reinforce your home so that it protects you, and to fight fire or flood or violence if necessary.
Some situations make evacuation a necessity for the majority of people, particularly the unprepared, but not all are so immediate. The other urban threat is one where there is no mass evacuation but the situation does put the majority of people in need. The ‘slow fall’ typically produces a varied range of hazards which differ from those posed by, for example, a hurricane, flood, or terrorist strike . Then your problem is one of staying low profile and not letting others realise you are better off than they are. Many people consider this scenario to be the most likely of all and that makes it so important that we will examine it in detail in a section of its own.
In this section we are really getting into down and dirty Streetcraft. Here we are considering what you can do to survive if you have to Bug Out, or you are stranded at work, or when you are away from home and the world immediately surrounding you has literally fallen apart. You have crawled out of the rubble, and your car and perhaps your Get Home Bag are buried under a few thousand tons of collapsed building. You have got the tatters of what you are wearing, what you have got in your pockets and whatever you can use from what is left around you.
In this situation your needs might be short term but they are urgent and cover all the basics: shelter, warmth, water, food, protection – physical and medical, communications, signals, and navigation, in this environment. Brush shelters and bough beds are for mountain men; trout is out – but you might find some goldfish; and the hyenas here walk on 2 legs rather than 4 but are just as dangerous as their counterparts in the wild. The streets might not be recognisable but they are now even meaner.
You have to survive until you can get out and make your way home, or to some other place of safety.
David E Crossley
This article was written in 1999 for the website of the Wild Ranger outdoor activities school, now defunct.
Ever wondered what it might be like to be in a REAL survival situation? Forget cinema fantasies, we are talking about the sort of situation YOU might find yourself in on what you expected to be a pleasant weekend’s walking with just the sort of kit most people might carry for that situation. Read on to see how it might happen, how it might feel and what you could do to help yourself, if you had taken the trouble to learn a few elementary techniques in advance .
This wasn’t the plan!
If it wasn’t for the pain in your broken ankle you would laugh! This was supposed to be a time to rest your mind and recharge your stress batteries. Now it looks as if you are going to have to do some thinking, and you better think hard and fast!
So where did it all go wrong and what are you going to do now? You had been looking forward to this walk for quite a while. The main holiday season is over and it isn’t a bank holiday weekend. You have 4 days off to get out into the wilds to enjoy some peace and freedom. You have chosen a route that will get you away from the main footpaths and let you explore some features of particular interest to you. The route is challenging, that is part of the reason few people come this way, but this wasn’t supposed to be an endurance test and you planned to stay at B & Bs rather than camping.
You took sensible precautions before setting off. You left details of your itinerary and route with a responsible friend, but they don’t expect to hear from you until you call at the end of your break, to say that you are back and will see them the next day. You are carrying your day pack including
the usual essentials but no mobile ‘phone. It would be wasted weight since you know you cannot get a signal in this remote area anyway.
The holiday started well. You got off the local bus and headed out into a dull but dry day. After 8 miles of steady walking you sat by a stream overlooking a wooded valley and heather covered slopes, poured good coffee from your flask and smiled contentedly. With a drizzle starting and a cold breeze blown up, your kit packed away and 7 more miles to go, you shouldered your pack, looked to the next hill and put your best foot forward. Straight into a moss covered hole, trapping your foot and throwing you off balance!
If the loud crack that followed hadn’t told you that you had broken a bone, the pain searing up your leg, nausea and sudden cold flash down your face and neck would have!
Now you have finished cursing and thumping the ground with your fist, you look around you. Suddenly the peaceful, deserted hills you enjoyed and the drizzle and wind you would have cheerfully ignored seem very different. Time to get real!
There is no way you are going to hop another 7 miles, or even 6 to the nearest road. Your ankle isn’t bleeding but it hurts like hell, is swelling fast and will have no strength. Your injury isn’t life threatening, but if you don’t take action your situation might be.
There is little constructive you can do in the way of First Aid at this stage. Your boot is providing as much support as anything else you could apply and removing it would allow your ankle to swell to the point where you couldn’t get the boot back on securely.
Thankfully you have done some survival training. Right now you are wishing you had actually tried out more of the techniques you read about, but one of the things the reading did teach you, is that wishful thinking doesn’t get it done in a survival situation. What you need is a hard, realistic appraisal of your situation and a practical attitude to improving it. So ….
Situation: Simple fracture of the ankle. No external blood loss. Otherwise fit. Physiological shock is inevitable but controllable. Immediate help available Nil. Likelihood of rescue low for several days, thereafter good, but you might be lucky, someone with the same ideas as you might come this way. You know your current location. Weather deteriorating. Terrain open rock and heather moor where you are but sheltered valley within hobbling/crawling distance. Daylight for a few more hours. Limited amount of equipment but it includes useful, good quality items.
Your survival needs in this situation are:
Priorities: Take pain killers to lessen the shock and help you concentrate. Increase chances of getting help. Seek shelter and warmth. Rest and overcome shock. Plan future actions.
You now consider what equipment you have to help you.
Taking stock you find you have:
Good quality outdoors clothing and waterproofs
Day-glo plastic bivvy bag
Nylon survival blanket, red on one side silver on the other
Swiss army knife with blade, wood saw, scissors etc
1 litre water bottle
½ litre stainless steel vacuum flask
23 Water purifying tablets
Maps in waterproof map case
Roll of toilet paper
An apple, 2 Mars bars, chocolate covered Kendal mint cake, coffee and sugar
Notebook, pencil and pen
Wallet with credit cards, paper money and coins
Toilet bag with soap, razor, toothbrush and paste, comb
Spare socks and underwear
First Aid kit
Survival kit in a tin (probably opened once from curiosity, if ever!)
You shrug off your pack, find the painkillers in your first aid kit, then wash 2 down with a mouthful of water from your half full water bottle. You realise that you could follow the standard advice, get into your orange bivvy bag, eat a mars bar and wait here. Your waterproofs and fleece clothing are keeping you dry and fairly warm but you are quite exposed so it is going to get damn cold after the sun goes down. There are rocks you could shelter behind and turf you could use to build a more effective windbreak. You could gather heather and bracken to give you some insulation from the ground. Nevertheless, it could be several days before anyone finds you and there are better options available. So, you refill your water bottle from the stream beside you, drop in a purifying tablet, just to be sure, and repack your kit.
You have decided to move down the hill into the wooded valley where you will have shelter from the wind and can make a better shelter from the rain. You won’t go right to the bottom of the valley though, because cold air sinks and it may be misty and very chilly right down there, especially early in the morning. The deeper you go, the harder it will be for rescuers to find you too and you want to increase your chances by making it as easy for them as possible. So before you move you need to let anyone who comes this way know they are on the right track, that you are close by and need help.
Getting to your knees and keeping your foot off the ground to protect your ankle, you shuffle around gathering the biggest stones you can handle. You select a fairly flat piece of ground and use the stones to spell out the biggest SOS they will make, and then add an arrow pointing towards the valley. Realising that anyone seeing the signal couldn’t know it was yours or how long it had been there, you get out your notepad, write a short message detailing your situation and intentions, sign and date it, pack it in a ziplock plastic bag that held your lunchtime sandwiches, add a few flat stones in the bag then secure it under one of the larger stones, making sure it is clearly showing but unlikely to blow away.
Slowly, staying as close to the stream as you safely can, you slide, shuffle, hop and crawl your way down the hillside into the valley and the shelter of the trees.
At the edge of the trees you pause to rest. Pulling the orange plastic bivvy bag from your pack you use your pocket knife to cut a strip about an inch wide from the top of the bag and on one side slit the plastic ring it formed. Reaching as high up as you can but ensuring any branches do not overhang it, you tie the bright orange plastic strip around one of the outermost trees. Anyone looking down from your rock SOS signal should be able to see it clearly.
Out of the wind and under shelter of the mixed conifer and birch trees you stop to rest again and look around. Your ankle feels numb but throbbing. You are inordinately thirsty, the result of shock and fluid loss into your ankle, so you take a deep drink from your water bottle. The stream is close by so at least you will not be short of water. You are a few yards into the trees and just to one side is a relatively flat shelf of ground, slightly more open but below the level of the outer trees and above a steeper slope to the valley bottom. The ground is quite damp but the site is sheltered, close to water, free from danger of falling rocks, branches or trees and not far from your point of entry into the wood. This is not a bad place for a survival camp.
Considering the state of the ground you are going to have to raise yourself from it for insulation from both cold and damp. There are two trees you can use as the supports for a shelter and near to them is one fairly large log and a couple of smaller diameter ones. The line isn’t exactly across the wind but it isn’t bad. Carefully you manoeuvre the smaller logs about 2-3 feet apart and parallel to the large log.
You then stop to sit on the log to rest for a few minutes while you finish the coffee from your flask. Pacing yourself is important at this stage. You should keep working but tackle things by easy stages and not become exhausted.
The log bed frame gives you a guide to the size and shape of your shelter. You could now wedge or tie a long branch or sapling between the trees over your bed frame and then make a lean-to from branches, or you could simply complete the bed and then get into your bivvy bag. There is still some daylight left though, and you need to use what you have to provide what you need in the least energy intensive and most efficient way possible. Your nylon cord, some string and either the survival blanket or bivvy bag will make a quick, more windproof waterproof shelter than natural materials, and with much less effort. In this case you decide to slit open the bivvy bag. Opened out it will make a bigger shelter than the blanket and its colour is more easily spotted.
After slitting the plastic along one side and the bottom edge, you wrap the plastic around a small pine cone, about 6 inches back from the long edge of the material then secure it with cord. Then you repeat this on the other side. In each front corner of the plastic you tie another pine cone. You then secure the sheet to a tree on either side using cord from the cones you first tied in. Breaking a couple of stout sticks you carve a point on their ends, cut a small notch near the other end and drive them into the ground forward of your shelter. taking your string you guy the pine cones in the front corners to your 2 home made pegs. You then finish your shelter by weighting down the back edge with large stones.
With cover over you, you then complete the bed by positioning long branches across the logs and thatch it with smaller, springy branches for comfort.
The evening is starting to draw in now but you are out of the wind, you have a waterproof shelter and wrapped in your clothes and the survival blanket you will easily survive the night. It would be comforting and warmer to have a fire though.
The combination of pain killers and concentrating on and achieving practical tasks to help yourself is taking your mind off the pain in your ankle but you know that won’t last if you stop for long, so it is better to finish your main tasks before you stop for the night.
Sweeping away the leaves and dead twigs from in front of your shelter you gather logs to form a dry base for your fire, plus a good quantity of differing thickness for fuel. Again using your knife you make two long stakes, drive them at about 45 degrees into the ground behind the firebase and support them with other pieces of wood. In front of the stakes you build a screen of damp birch logs to form a heat reflector. Using your lighter, a piece of candle, some toilet paper, twigs, sticks and the techniques you did practise, you light a fire.
Tired, in pain, but safe and satisfied that you have done what you can for now, you fill your cup with water and set it by the fire to heat while you wrap the survival blanket around you and eat one of your chocolate bars. You have shelter, warmth, and water. You have made yourself as comfortable as possible in the circumstances. You seized the initiative and overcame the temptation to panic or despair. The chances of getting much sleep are slim but you will certainly survive the night.
Tomorrow you can assess if there is anything else you can do to support your ankle, improve your shelter and signals and start writing your best seller!
David E Crossley
This article was first published in Combat and Survival magazine in April 2001 with appropriate photographs to illustrate the various techniques.
“In First Aid we always teach that you should never move a casualty unless it is absolutely necessary but sometimes there really IS no choice!”
“Since I left the Army and joined St. Andrews Ambulance Association I have only had to move a casualty once in emergency circumstances but then, like in the Falklands, there was no choice. I was on duty at a motorbike scrambling event. One of the riders jumped his bike over a ridge. As it came down the rear wheel skidded off a rock and the rider went down on his back, hard and awkwardly with his leg twisted under him. I heard his leg break and his head hit the rock so hard it cracked his helmet. He was totally out of it and I could hear the other bikes revving up the other side of the ridge. There was a chance he had seriously injured his neck or back but either I got him out of the way or the other bikes were likely to come down right on top of him.”
“As I went forward I slipped on the churned up mud and ended up on my backside. I knew I only had a few seconds but he was wearing a tight leather suit and was covered in mud so it wasn’t easy to get a grip. All I could do was grab him under the arms, lock my hands around his chest and scramble backwards out of the way, dragging him with me. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t like in the textbooks and if his neck or back had been broken it could have killed him but it was all I could do. I saw him riding again last week”. Andy Milburn, St Andrews Ambulance, ex-RAMC.
Andy was right, what he did and how he did it isn’t quite as in the textbooks but, when it hits the fan for real, things are rarely quite that clear-cut. Andy also put himself at risk to help the rider, which also goes against the rules, but then he has done that before. As he said to me “I’ve evacuated people with shrapnel whining past me, a Kawasaki is easier to dodge!”
Nevertheless, in general you should never risk creating 2 casualties instead of one if you can avoid it. Remember that people are difficult, awkward loads to carry. Use common sense and good technique whenever possible. In particular take care to avoid back injury, it is an all too common event in casualty handling.
Here are the basic rules of Casualty Handling:
Learn proper techniques and keep yourself fit and prepared
Only Move a casualty if it is absolutely necessary, to preserve their life
Never risk becoming a casualty yourself while trying to move someone else
Plan the move, consider all the dangers, the route, obstacles to be moved or avoided, appropriate techniques, and aids available
Talk to the casualty. Tell them what is happening and what you are going to do.
Get a casualty to move themselves or to co-operate as much as possible
Do not attempt to move a casualty on your own if help is available
If more than one person is involved in moving a casualty someone must take charge. Communication, Cooperation, and Coordination are the keys
Use correct lifting technique to avoid injuring your back
Continually communicate with the casualty to check how they are and reassure them
Now let’s look at some specific techniques:
The Human Crutch is a practical method when a casualty is capable of walking but needs assistance, particularly if they cannot place much weight on one leg. It isn’t very useful under fire, since movement is slow and both casualty and helper are upright. The way the casualty is supported means that if they slip or collapse there is a potential danger of injury to their wrist, arm or shoulder and to the helper’s neck or back. It is most effective when the casualty and helper are the same height or the casualty is slightly taller.
To act as a human crutch:
Stand on the casualty’s injured side
Put their arm around your neck and grip their hand or wrist
Pass your inside arm around the casualty’s waist and grasp their clothes or belt to help support them
Step off together on your inside foot
Take small steps and move at the casualty’s pace
Rest as often as you or the casualty need it
Drags are mainly used when it is impractical or unwise to stand upright. They are useful for troops under fire, or anyone in smoke filled buildings or on slippery surfaces. To protect the casualty and ease movement it is useful to get them onto something and then drag that rather than the casualty. This does increase the weight you have to move but the decreased friction usually means you expend less energy in the process and there is less likelihood of snagging obstacles. You should wear gloves or wrap your hands in cloth and move on your knuckles rather than the palms of your hands if possible, to protect your hands from heat or sharp debris.
To use the Crawl Drag:
If possible arrange the casualty so that you will be dragging them head first
Lie on your side alongside the casualty and slightly ahead of them
Clear the path over which you and the casualty will move
Extend your arm and use that and your opposite leg to drag/push you forward
Drag the casualty forward until their head is about level with your chest
Repeat movements 3-5
To use the Crouch Drag:
Crouch behind the casualty
Pull/help them into a sitting position
Cross their arms over their chest
Reach under their armpits and grip their wrists
Pull them backwards until against your chest
Squat walk backwards dragging the casualty with you OR
Shuffle your bottom backwards as far as possible then lean back, pulling the casualty to you
Repeat movements 5-7
To use the Under-slung Drag:
Tie the casualty’s wrists together
Kneel astride the casualty’s hips
Bend forward and put their hands around your neck
Straighten your arms
Shuffle forward on your hands and knees dragging the casualty with you
Protect the casualty’s head as you move
The Fire fighter's Lift and Piggy Back Carry
The Fire fighter’s Lift is no longer taught to First Aiders because of the restrictions on the weight one person is allowed to carry, under Health and Safety legislation. There are also dangers of injury to both the helper and the casualty. The Fire fighter’s lift isn’t as easy as it looks when demonstrated by a competent person or with a conscious casualty. It should never be used if the casualty has a back injury. However, properly performed by a fit, strong, correctly trained individual this, and the Piggy Back, remains a practical carry that allows relatively fast movement. The Fire fighter’s lift can be used for conscious or unconscious casualties, the Piggy Back Carry, which I doubt needs any explanation, is only practical with conscious and preferably lightweight casualties.
To perform the Fire fighter’s Lift with an unconscious casualty:
1. Lay the person face down
2. Place one of their arms above their head and one by their side
3. Put their legs together
4. Kneel at their head, put your hands under their shoulders and shuffle forwards, raising them into a kneeling position
5. Push one hand between the casualty’s thighs and grasp the back of their thigh
6. Turn sideways on to the casualty
7. Pull their arm over your shoulders and grasp their wrist
8. Adjust your stance and stand up
9. If possible push your arm fully between the casualty’s thighs and pull their arm down to grasp their wrist with that hand, leaving you with one hand free
The Fore and Aft and Chair Carries
These 2 carries are actually very similar, except that one makes use of a chair as a lifting/carrying aid. They are both 2 person carries and are particularly useful if you have to move the casualty up or down stairs or on a slope. The Fore and Aft should not be used if the casualty’s arms, shoulders or ribs are injured.
To use the Fore and Aft Carry:
Squat behind the casualty
Sit them up and put their arms across their chest
Slide your hands under their arms and grasp their wrists
Ask the casualty to part their legs
Get your partner to kneel between the casualty’s legs and grasp them under the knees OR
Have the partner squat beside the casualty and pass his hands under and take hold of their legs
On your word of command, keeping your backs straight, stand up, lifting the casualty together
Move the casualty to safety
To use the Chair carry
Sit the casualty in a strong straight back chair such as a dining chair, preferably one with arms to prevent the casualty falling sideways
Have your partner stand in front of the chair facing you
Tilt the chair back towards you
Have your partner squat in front of the chair and firmly grasp the front legs or bar
If your partner will be going backwards they should now take control of the lift and carry, if you are going backwards i.e. up stairs/slope, you retain control
On the leader’s command, both of you rise and lift
Proceed with the person going backwards controlling the pace and the one facing forward providing direction commands and warning of obstacles
These are the main simple or improvised casualty handling techniques. They are most useful as follows:
The Human Crutch – for walking wounded
The Crawl, Crouch and Under-slung Drags – for when you need to keep low
The Fire fighter’s Lift and Piggy Back – for relatively fast, one man, moves
The Fore and Aft and Chair lifts - for 2 person carries particularly on slopes or stairs
The Travois – for long distances
Stretchers – for team based casualty handling
The use and improvisation of stretchers and travois will be covered in an article on Casevac later in the year.
*NB the information in this article is intended to make you aware of the various techniques available. It is not a substitute for proper training. Neither the author nor Combat and Survival magazine accepts any liability for injury to you or any other person through the use of these techniques.
The following two sections were written as the starter for a collaborative fan-fiction writing project, published in the Survivors newsletter. This storyline takes place approximately 30 years after events shown in the 1970s Survivors TV series. In collaborative writing (sometimes called interactive writing) like this, someone starts a story and then leaves it for another contributor to add the next section, coming back in at a later stage if they wish. This serial story is now at episode 9 and, so far, four writers have taken part.
A New Dawn
David E Crossley
The old man held the shotgun tightly and pumped its action. There was about one chance in three a cartridge would work these days but it was better than nothing and not all visitors were friendly. The rider he had seen approaching the cottage rapped on the partially open door.
"Hello," the visitor called. "My name’s Paul. I’m a friend. We need you, you need us. Can we talk?"
The old man frowned in thought, then set the safety catch on and put down the gun before he called back. "Well, it’s a long time since I heard that greeting. My name’s Charles. You better come in."
The rider pushed the door open and Charles surveyed him carefully. "Are you well?" Charles challenged, before the man had set more than one foot through the door.
The rider smiled widely. He removed his hat and shook his unruly blond hair before replying. "I’m very well, thank you, Charles. Are you?"
For a moment Charles was taken back 30 years. The rider looked so familiar. Yet it wasn’t possible. Greg had been dead almost that long. He peered at his visitor with a bright piercing gaze that, despite his age, was a clear as ever. And then his memory clicked.
"My god! Paul! You’re Jenny and Greg’s boy!"
Paul smiled and nodded. "Paul Preston. I didn’t think you would remember me. It’s been a long time since you were at Sloton, Mr Vaughan, and I was only ten. My mother sends her regards."
Charles ushered Paul into a chair by the fire and poured him a cup of dandelion root coffee.
Before he spoke, Paul inhaled the nutty aroma of the drink and with it the sweet smell of the burning peat from the fire. "We need your help, Charles. And the fact that you made this is part of the reason."
Charles shook his head. " Oh, I gave up trying to help people twenty years ago, Paul. They didn’t want my help then and I doubt they will now."
Paul frowned. "That was then. Things looked promising back then. The power grid was expanding, people were starting to trade, the government didn’t last long and nor did the idea of money but people were starting to work together. It’s different now. After Alec was killed there weren’t any real engineers to keep the power stations running and things started to slip. Then smallpox and bubonic plague hit Scotland and decimated the numbers there. It’s thirty years since The Death now and things are going backwards. The electronic stuff that was salvaged is going wrong and nobody knows how to fix it, so communications are breaking down. Machinery is rusting and failing too. And the number of people is falling. So many women are afraid of having babies and we lose a lot of those who are born, and some mothers too. Diseases are claiming more people every year. We need to get organised, Charles, and we need someone with vision to help us do it."
Charles shook his head in exasperation. "I warned them about the need for children. Damn it, I told them! But what about Jenny, surely she can organise this?"
"Mum puts family first. She wants to keep us safe but she still blames Dad’s death on the hunt for progress. She just wants us to hunker down and survive in our own small community. She was dead set against me ‘traipsing around the country’ to look for you."
Charles laughed. "I’m not surprised. But what can I do?"
Paul took a long drink before continuing. "We’re getting some people together to discuss what each of us can do. Doctor Ruth is at the house already. James and Abby Garland are coming from Waterhouse, and some others you will know will be there too. We have to turn things around, before it’s too late."
Charles was silent for a while, deep in thought and then he looked at Paul once again. Paul was so like his father and he had the same sense of urgency. Charles wasn’t sure what he could achieve, but it would be good to see Jenny and Ruth again. He nodded decisively. "Alright, boy. We’ll give it one more try. It’s a new dawn. Let’s see if we can give the four horsemen a run for their money!"
To be continued
A New Dawn – Part 2
David E Crossley
"Paul, behind you!" Charles yelled, even as he fired at the dog crouching to spring at Paul’s back.
Paul swung around; flinging away a dog that had sunk its teeth into his arm. Snarling as viciously as any of the beasts, he brought the butt of his rifle down hard onto its head.
There was the muted pop of a misfired cartridge from the breech of Charles’ shotgun. Cursing under his breath, he pumped the action and prepared to fire again. The dog bared its teeth, growled deep in its throat and hunched to launch itself at Paul’s neck. This time the shotgun roared and the dog sprang sideways before collapsing, its feet kicking in a final useless bid to flee as it died.
Terrified by the sudden noise and the smell of death on its son, the pack leader fled, barking its orders to its remaining clan to follow as it disappeared into the snow-covered trees.
Charles and Paul twisted frantically, their eyes searching the frozen undergrowth around them for further danger from any direction. Charles shivered, and not just from the cold. He had encountered dog packs at times over the years but he still had nightmares about his first real battle with them, back to back with Richard Fenton, Fenton’s death from Rabies and his own desperate run from people hunting him like a mad dog. He glanced at the tattered sleeve of Paul’s jacket.
"Did it bite you? Did its teeth break the skin?" Charles demanded.
Paul shook his head and pulled up his sleeve. Now Charles could see that the forearm was encased in a thick leather sheath. "Both forearms and my lower legs, Charles," Paul told him. "We’ve faced dog attacks before."
Charles nodded and breathed easier. They had stopped to water the horses at the outskirts of a village, breaking ice to let the animals drink. The road over which the stream flowed was now only discernable from the remains of street light standards, spaced along either side of a strip of slightly lower vegetation. Further out were the ruins of houses and bungalows. Most of the windows were broken and many of the roofs had collapsed. The bare branches of trees poked up through the shells. The dogs had first attacked the horses, only turning on himself and Paul when they intervened.
"Did you see which way the horses went?" Charles asked.
Paul grimaced. "Ran off back the way we came. We’d better look for them. At least we won’t have a problem following their tracks. It would take us almost another week to Sloton without them."
Charles pumped the action of his shotgun and picked up his water bottle.
"And we have to get you a rifle instead of that bloody shotgun, Charles," Paul sneered. "Rifle cartridges are still good, that thing will get one of us killed!"
Charles grunted. The shotgun had served him well for many years, it was the cartridges that were the problem, but he couldn’t deny that Paul was right. One wasn’t much use without the other. "Perhaps I should have stuck with a crossbow," he countered.
Paul shook his head impatiently. "Only if you have the skills to make bolts and strings for yourself." Then he took a deep breath and exhaled hard, his breath misting the air around him.. He was still shaking and tense from the attack, he realised. "But from all I’ve heard, it wouldn’t surprise me if you can."
Charles’ lip curled but his eyes twinkled at the compliment. "Oh, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear. I get by, but it was your father who was the inventive one. When I first met him he had just made a hand pump for getting petrol up from storage tanks."
Paul snorted and stamped on the broken tarmac beneath them. "A lot of good that would do us now!"
It was nearly dark, three days later, by the time they rode into the driveway of Sloton Spencer. From somewhere a hand bell tolled to announce their arrival. First from the door as they swung down from their horses was Jenny. She hugged Paul and then turned to Charles, her big round eyes sparkling.
"Charles, Oh, Charles! It is good to see you again!"
Charles returned her smile, fondly. She was a bit thinner perhaps but otherwise the years had changed her very little. "Hello, Jenny. I hear you are organising a gathering. This young man persuaded me I should come along." He nodded to oil lanterns and a wreath outside the house door. "What’s all this?"
"Don’t you know?" she asked. "It’s just a few days to Christmas."
And then they were surrounded by people. Some Charles recognised, many he didn’t. But his attention was caught by a young woman standing back in the doorway. She looked vaguely familiar, yet he was sure they had never met. He looked towards Paul to ask who she was but the younger man was staring at her transfixed, his mouth slightly open in awe. Clearly Paul didn’t know her either, but Charles guessed it wouldn’t be long before he tried to change that. Christmas. It was a good time for a gathering and this promised to be an interesting one.
To be continued
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