What’s In Your Ride?
by Keith McGraw
As the CEO of Prepper Threat Forecasting LLC, the probability that a situation would develop so suddenly I would need to rely on my gear is almost zero. But almost zero isn’t zero. Therefore, my basics when I leave the driveway include never less than 10 gallons of water, my get-home-bag, my bug-out-bag, extra food, extra clothing, blankets, rope, extremely useful tools, my maps package, spare cash & silver, full-face air filtering gas masks for me and my wife, and defensive resources. The inside of my truck is always a bit crowded with gear.
Why so much? I carry so much because I live forty miles from my place of employment. I carry so much because I may decide on a whim to drive 200 miles or so to visit friends or family. I carry so much because I’m not walking around with all of that, I’m driving a full-sized 4×4 four door pickup. I have the space, I have the resources. What I don’t have is the prescience to know exactly where I’ll be if I need the stuff, what the weather will be like, what the terrain will be like, or what will happen to cause me to need to use any of it.
Because we don’t actually know, with any specificity, how or when something will go down, it behooves preppers to always be as resource heavy as they have the ability to be. And when I say resources, I am speaking of knowledge, skills, and items. I’d rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. To me, that is the essence of preparedness. The most important preparedness item in my truck, however, is “The List”.
“The List” is a simple document that I wrote for use in the event a catastrophic event occurs while I am away from my home. It was written over a period of weeks after an investment of much research and thought on what specific steps should be taken in what order should I need to get home or elsewhere. My perspective on this is very simple – should a catastrophic event occur suddenly, I will probably know what it was, what the long-term effect will be, and have a very solid estimation of how dire my situation is. Also, regardless of how nicely equipped I am, and how well prepared mentally and physically I am, the emotional effect might well be sufficiently adverse as to jeopardize my chances. I might get scared, I might get depressed, I might find my mind racing through various potential scenarios, or I might forget something critical to success.
The List is designed to serve as a tool to help calm the mind, focus thought, and aid in rational decision making in a crisis period. And I assure you, anything that will make me abandon my vehicle and walk down the road carrying a bug-out-bag will be the very definition of a crisis. The List contains simple strategies to consider, such as identifying various potential nearby transportation resources. Is there a golf course nearby to check for working golf carts, a bicycle shop, classic car dealership, horse farm, warehouse forklift, or tractors in barns? There are examples of things to check on, if possible, and if appropriate to the situation. It contains reminders such as to fully inventory the packs and vehicle, including to check under the seats and over the sun-visors. It lists steps to take for evaluating the overall situation, assess resources, and to develop a unique response plan specific for the time, the place, and the circumstances.
I have a lifetime’s experience of calamitous surprises and I know what they feel like. I know how a mind goes into overdrive or, as I’ve seen in some other folks, a mind can just lock down for a while. In the event of a sudden catastrophe of sufficient magnitude, the best answer is executing a slow, steady, calmly planned response utilizing the correct resources in the proper sequence.
With a mind racing, rapidly considering what just happened, what you may or may not have, what your best moves might be, and all of the other considerations about loved ones, etc., the chance of forgetting something critical or not thinking of an important strategy is quite likely. Hence, “The List”. It is all about Stop, Steady, Study, Strengthen, and Step off.
Whatever mundane task someone was engaged in at the moment the event or incident affected him or her, that’s done with. Avoid the temptation to instantly leap into action, barring immediate threat to life or limb, and just stop doing anything for a few moments.
Take as many deep, calming breaths as necessary to achieve calm. Whatever occurred to make someone seriously consider abandoning a vehicle and grabbing a bug-out-bag is more than likely of sufficiently broad impact as to not pose immediate threat. Unless a person is responding to a bright nuclear flash on a near horizon there should be time to expend a few moments just clearing the mind.
After allowing one’s mind to adjust to a new and sudden change of reality, it will be necessary to accurately assess the totality of the situation. This means conducting a comparison of immediate assumptions against verifiable facts. What happened? What changed? Where are you? What is in the area? How far are you from where need to go? What time is it? Are there near-term risks? Etcetera. Once that is done it allows a person to develop a clearer mental picture of what that person’s new mission is and begin planning an appropriate response. Following this, one needs to perform a resource inventory audit to compare what is needed to execute the new mission to what is on hand and immediately available. Once the gap between needs versus means has been identified, a basic plan, open to refinement as future developments occur, is finalized.
Based on the new plan, resources are allocated, packed or positioned as appropriate and as much food and water as is conditionally suitable are consumed preparatory to beginning plan execution. In recognition of a change in circumstances of this magnitude, it is incumbent on folks to realize that the amount of physical exertion that will be consistently required from this point forward will comparable to a farm hand in the 18th century and will require a caloric and fluid intake substantially higher than is normal for most modern citizens. Ideally, no food or water will be left behind. It will be either consumed or carried. Additionally, previously identified nearby resources might be obtained to enhance mission success. Anything that strengthens the chance of success is “developed”. This means … buy it, barter for it, or whatever is required to obtain what is needed is done. The game has changed, therefore the rules of modern society may no longer be applicable only those of Nature and Nature’s Creator apply.
The situation has been clarified, a plan has been developed, essential needs have been prepared for movement, and an energy reserve has been established. It is now time to initiate plan execution with a clear mind, resoluteness of purpose, and an understanding of the new operating reality in which all future activities will occur.