16 Mei 2008

Jungle survival


If you’re thinking of a jungle adventure, make sure you are fully prepared for the undertaking, writes SAGER AHMAD NST

GOING into the jungle is not a stroll in the park and we should be prepared — physically, mentally, medically as well as spiritually. Despite so many stories in the past about people who have gone missing in jungles, there are still recent cases of people getting lost.

Those who made it back or were found alive must consider themselves very lucky. Being lost in the jungle is not a pleasant experience.

If you come out alive, you can boast (a bit) to friends. But remember the anxiety you have caused, with parents, relatives, friends, rescue units and the general public worried for your safety.

Recently, Nor Umaisarah Sameaun, a Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) student went missing in the jungles of Pahang for 19 days from Feb 7. She was with a group of 36 Kesatria UiTM members who climbed Gunung Tahan, the highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia. She was enjoying the scenery not far from the Bukit Botak campsite when the group packed up and left without her.

She didn’t even know how to get back to the campsite but she did the right thing by keeping close to a river, sleeping in between rocks and drinking from the river before her rescue.

An experienced guide is a must. If you go in a big group, break into smaller groups comprising experienced and novice trekkers. The leader of each group should do a head-count every time the group stops for a break and gets ready to leave.

Here are more tips on what to do if you’re lost in the jungle. It is loosely adapted from www.jungleschool.com.my. To be lost simply means you are all alone and you cannot see or hear your friends anywhere. Don’t panic. Apply the S.T.O.P approach — Stop, Think, Observe and Plan.

STOP – Take a deep breath, sit down if possible, calm yourself and recognise that whatever has happened to get you here cannot be undone. You are now in a survival situation and that requires you to:

THINK – Your most important asset is your brain. Use it! Don’t panic! Move with deliberate care. Take no action, even a step forward, until you have thought it through.

OBSERVE – Take a look around you. Assess your situation and options. Take stock of your supplies, equipment and surroundings.

PLAN – Prioritise your immediate needs and develop a plan to systematically deal with the emergency. Make a plan and keep to it. Adjust your plan only as necessary to deal with changing circumstances.

Shout “HELLO” at the top of your voice and then listen attentively for one minute. Repeat after a while.

If you have anything metallic, like a frying pan, beat it for a good 10 seconds, stop and listen attentively.

If they can hear you, your group members (if they are nearby) will normally call out your name. Stay put and let them come to you. Do not scream “HELLO” again. Scream your friend’s name out aloud instead.

If it is dark, move nearest to where there is a gap or opening in the jungle. Change a dark coloured shirt for something bright.

Keep screaming. If there is still no response, take a few deep breaths and keep calm.

Arm yourself with a stick if you don’t have a machete. It will be your weapon for the rest of your situation. Look for pebbles and keep them as they are a handy weapon. Look carefully two metres around you for any sign that is man made.

If you have to move, go downhill, not up. This saves energy and will lead you to water.

Observe the sun as you walk. Is it behind you, on your left or right or in front of you?

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