Taiwan Elite International Rescue AssociationJul 11.2021 | Disaster Relief and Assistance
A 76-year-old retired professor surnamed Ye from Tainan went into the mountains on the 30th of last month to pick mangos in Douliu, Yujing, Tainan, and went missing. His anxious family called the police who along with the firefighting department sent out a search party but to no avail. The TEIRA that the Foundation has been sponsoring for some time, went on the search with rescue dogs and came back with the news on the 11th that Ye’s body was found. Though it was not the best news one could hope for, but at least Ye’s family has been informed.
Now let's talk about what to do if you get lost in the mountains.
《Dos and Don’ts for when you get lost in the mountains》
《Heads-up for when you get lost in the mountains:》
Stop: Pause. Finding your trail in panic will only get you further and further from the original path and expand the search area for the rescue team. As soon as you realize you are lost, stop going forward. Rescue teams usually follow the trails on their rescue mission. So when you realize you are lost, stop moving forward and you will have a higher chance of getting rescued.
Think: Retrace your steps and see if you have a chance getting back to where you started. What are the chances? When in doubt, give up looking for the way out. Switch to the long-haul strategy. 。
Observe: Look around to identify a safe spot and what natural objects to use. To set up a tent, the area underneath a tree is reasonably safe and provides shelter. Dews on the tree leaves will rehydrate you. A knowledge of wild plants will benefit your survival. If you are not experienced in hunting, do not try to catch a prey for food.
Plan: Plan for the long-haul. Be mentally prepared for a long wait of more than 10 days and distribute your food and water accordingly. Keep warm and keep out from the rain. In general, a person can survive for more than 10 days without food if he/she is kept hydrated and warm.
2. Do not move around after notifying your location. Stay put in the same spot is the best way forward.
After receiving your notification, the rescue team will have positioned your coordinates. So do not wander off to other places which will increase the rescue time and difficulties.
3. Do not cut down to the valleys
Many climbers/hikers, when they are lost, would choose to cut down to the valley to replenish water or thinking that walking along a river will get them to a village. However, Taiwan is home to steep mountains and forests with many of its streams and ravines dry and difficult to identify. One can easily fall in the process of cutting down to the valley and end up injured or discover the path leads nowhere but could not find their way back up. If you get stuck near a river, the sound of running water could stifle your cry for help and the rescue team’s voice too, so cutting down to the valley is not recommended. If you have the stamina and want to receive a better signal and be seen, walking up to the ridges would be better than going down.
4.Go big and make yourself seen
Using light or a whistle or creating man-made marks like stacking stones, leaving notes or tying things to the tree branches will all enlarge your trail and be tracked down by the rescue team.
5. The 333 Principle of waiting to be rescued:
The 333 Principle is about not exceeding a certain amount of time in cases of hypothermia, dehydration and no food, or else one’s life will be jeopardized.
• No more than 3 hours with hypothermia
• No more than 3 days without water
• No more than 3 weeks without food
If you don’t think you will get help soon and it’ll be quite some time before rescue arrives, then you need to stay warm, which is way more important than food and water. You can use your backpack, waterproof bag, and survival rug to stay warm and avoid hypothermia.
6. Stay calm and maintain your will to survive
People’s first reaction is only panic when discovering they are lost in the mountains. When people panic, adrenaline is released and prompts people to speed up the pace. But running will more likely put people in a worse situation as in a panic, people tend to make unsound decisions and deviate from the original path and in the end, they will find it harder to remember where they have been, thus increasing the search area and difficulty. But to panic is a natural reaction but one can only reduce the panic time and level of panic as much as possible.
What would really help is to stop, take a deep breath till your heartbeat and thoughts slow down. Only then will you be able to carefully retrace your trail and figure out how to get back to where you were before getting lost or how to send notification and wait for rescue, assess all possible options and their possible outcomes, make a decision and execute. Two interviewees who were once lost concurred, “Though it is hard, try to stay calm, or you might make the wrong decision, trip over and get injured.”
Excerpted from the article, "What to do guide when lost in the mountains" for the rescued and the rescuers