Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Surviving a Crash

The news about the US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River has begun to abate. It’s miraculous that all survived, and we began wondering what we’d do in such a situation, and what we’d like to have with us if we had to make an emergency exit.

For many years we were involved in wilderness search-and-rescue, EMT work, and firefighting. In addition, we’ve been around water, ropes, injuries, and emergency situations in our own adventuring.

If we were to survive a crash, the things we’d really like with us afterward would include:
EMT Shears – These can cut through straps, light sheet metal, clothing, and more. And they’re TSA legal.
Flashlight – Just a tiny keychain LED light would suffice.
Glasses – Reading glasses, prescription glasses, whatever we normally needed.
Wallet – Yes, we know not to grab our stuff in an emergency exit. But life would be immensely easier in the days following a survivable crash if our passport and credit card were in our pocket rather than in an underwater carry-on bag.
Cell Phone – As long as the battery lasts and you have a signal, probably the most useful “survival” tool.

There are probably many other items that could be added to this list, but the longer a list becomes the less likely one is to carry what’s needed. Most of the above items can be kept in a case not much bigger than a wallet. Better yet, you could use one of those dorky-looking money-purse things that travelers always have hung around their neck. And as for clothing:

Shoes – We have seen survivors from a winter plane crash walking through snow in their socks. We’re going to keep our shoes on during takeoff and landing.
Jacket – We have never worn our coat or jacket during flights, but may reconsider doing so during takeoff and landing, despite the inconvenience.

I don’t think we’re overly cautious, yet we have chains in our car in winter, we carry a first-aide kit when we’re hiking, and we keep a shortwave radio in our home. A little bit of emergency planning may not just save your life, but could help with saving another’s as well.

Training with New Zealand firefighters