"There are going to be situations where people are going to go without assistance.
That's just the facts of life."
- Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates
I have had several requests from friends to review the self-rescue gear we carry in our Get Back Home (GBH) bags, probably due to the recent but not unexpected flooding we have had this spring. Some readers may be surprised to learn that there is very little practical difference between self rescue from a flooded car and the common mountaineering skill known as rappelling.
I first began carrying self-rescue gear in our vehicles after considering how much of the highways in our major urban areas are elevated for miles and miles on end. I know what happens to these elevated freeways when they are subjected to an earthquake, or other shock wave, such as from a nuclear device.
But what concerned me just as much is that these elevated choke points are perfect kill zones. One or two lightly armed bad guys could easily cause a traffic jam and proceed to execute tens or hundreds of people until they either run out of ammunition or are stopped by someone with a firearm that is ready, willing, and able to do so.
However, two well-trained teams of heavily armed and armored "moderate rebels" proceeding to calmly and methodically execute hundreds or even thousands of people sitting helplessly in their cars (surely taking videos of their own violent deaths with their cell phones) might cause some of us, like me, to want to get the fuck off that elevated highway in a hurry.
“The US military and partner forces have begun training the initial class of appropriately vetted Syrian opposition recruits this week to support the effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL in Syria,”
I realized that the same gear and skills to execute a self rescue from a flood, or exit an elevated-freeway kill zone, can also be very useful in getting one's ass from point A to Point B, safely, in a TEOTWAWKI scenario such as an EMP attack. Back in 2012, I posted a Zero Hedge article that included contents of a GBH pack:
Purchase the items on the following shopping list to outfit your person with a Get Back Home (GBH) pack (aka Evacuation Pack, aka Bug Out Bag, aka Assault Pack, aka 3 Day Pack, aka Survival Pack). It includes a First Aid Kit (aka FAK) and a set of clothing so you will not be forced to evacuate the city in your loafers, heels, wool suit, or dress (Read One Second After). This pack can reside in the trunk of your car if you are a commuter or in the hall closet if you live and work in a city.
Now, in this article, I will provide Zero Hedge readers with the updated contents of our GBH packs:
location, item, qty, description, cost
c=Carry / i= In Pack / o=On Pack
o,Pants,1,NorthFace Horizon Falls Convertible Nylon Pants,$50.00
o,Shirt,1,Vented Nylon Long Sleeve Shirt,$25.00
o,Shoes,1,Run-A-Moc Dash (Suede),$115.00
o,Socks,1,Wrightsock CoolMesh II,$11.00
o,Undershirt,1,UnderArmor (Summer) / Patagonia (Winter),$20.00
o,Underwear,1,UnderArmor (Summer) / Patagonia (Winter),$20.00
t,Backpack,1,Maxpedition Falcon II w/ 3 liter bladder,$130.00
o,Pack Leash,1,Pre-tied 20' 550 paracord leashed to pack w/ biner,$10.00
i,Dry Bags,2,Sea to Summit lightweight dry sack (2 liter),Spare ammo, socks, undies, float bag,$24.00
o,Bag cover,1,Mountain Hardware Backpack Cover - non tactical look,$35.00
o,Anorak,1,Rainproof jacket w/ hood in muted color,$100.00
o,Rain pants,1,Rainproof pants in muted color,$100.00
i,Underwear,1,Spare UnderArmor - Black (in dry bag),$20.00
i,Socks,3,Spare socks - Wrightsock CoolMesh II (in dry bag),$33.00
o,Hat,2,Tilley and wool beenie,$50.00
o,Gloves,1,Work gloves w/ leather palm,$15.00
i,Datrex water,12,"Datrex water pouches (to fill CamelBak, bottle, and pre-hydrate)",$6.71
o,Water Bottle/Filter,1,Katadyn water bottle with integrated filter,$33.00
i,Water Purification Tablets,1,Katadyn Micropur tablets,$13.95
i,Electrolytes,6,PowerBar Gel with caffeine ,6.00
i,firestarter,2,Bic/water proof matches,$4.00
i,Toilet Paper,1,Backpaking style-no tube,$2.00
c,Knife,1,Hoffner Folding Knife,$59.00
i,Multi Tool,1,Leatherman Skeletool,$40.00
o,Flashlight,1,Streamlight Polytac w/ extra cr123a batteries,$35.00
i,Shelter,1,Mylar emergency sleeping bag,$8.53
i,Mirror,1,Metal unbreakable survival mirror,$7.00
i,Sewing kit,1,Heavy nylon thread, needles, seem tape, buttons,$4.00
i,Patch kit,1,Bike tube patch kit,$3.00
i,Bike Pump,,All-valve bike pump,$20.00
i,Hack Saw,1,Mini Hack Saw w/ 6" blades (master key),$9.50
i,Radio/Light/Charger,1,iRonsnow hand-cranked radio,light, phone charger,$19.99
c,Watch,1,Casio Pathfinder solar,$150.00
i,Maps,2,Laminated state and city map(s),$4.00
i,Compass,1,Suunto MC-2 Global,$56.35
c/i,Sidearm,1,FN FiveseveN 5.7 x 28 pistol w/ 5-20 rnd mags (EDC 3, 2 in pack),$1,000.00
o,Holster,1,Kydex FBI cant on paddle,$65.00
o,Mag carrier-pistol,2,Kydex on paddles (2),$30.00
o,Mag carrier-rifle,2,Cloth molle on pack (2),$25.00
i,Rifle,1,PS90 w/ Z-Point, Urban ERT sling, and 3-50 rnd mags,$2,000.00
c/i/o,Ammo,250,FN 5.7 x 28,$125.00
o,Body armor,1,Concealable III-A soft body armor - surplus LE,$200.00
i,Weapon light,1,Streamlight TLR-3 rail mounted weapon light,$90.00
i,Monocular,1,Zeiss MiniQuick 5x10 T,$139.00
i,Safety Glasses -Rx if needed,1,Clear safety glasses (rx?) w/ keeper,$20.00
i,N95 masks,2,3M N95 Mask,$0.50
i,Goggles,1,Clear swim goggles,$16.00
i,Iodine tablets,1,"iOSAT Potassium Iodide Tablets, 130 mg (14 Tablets)",$9.00
i,Nitrile gloves,3,Latex examination gloves (pair),$0.30
o,Tourniquet ,1,R.A.T.S. Tourniquet,$17.00
i,Coagulent,1,CELOX-A Hemostat syringe,$23.00
i,Chest Seal,1,HALO Chest Seals,$16.77
i,Decompression Needle,2,North American Rescue ARS,$19.98
i,Betadine scrub,1,B-D Easy Scrub Brush,$1.00
i,Betadine swabs,2,Foil packed single betadine swabs,$1.00
i,Gauze roll,2,Israeli battle dressing,$4.00
i,4x4s,4,Sterile 4x4 gauze pads,$0.20
i,Coban,1,"2"" roll (tan)",$3.50
i,Rx ABX,60,Bactrim DS (1-3x day x 10 days) vs Moxifloxacin (1/day for PCN+SULF allg),$15.00
i,Fever/Pain medicine,10,Excedrin travel packets-Extra Strength,$6.70
i,Mole Skin,1,2 inch roll,$5.00
i,Alcohol prep,5,Alcohol prep pads,$0.50
i,Benzoin,5,Tincture of Benzoin ampulet,$2.50
i,Passport / DL / CHL,1,Laminated copies of ID,
i,Important numbers,1,Laminated list of emergency contacts,
i,Coins,10,0.1 ounce barbaric relics,$1,450.00
i,Rope,1,7mm Static Accessory Cord: 25-50 meters,$132.60 Mammut Accessory Cord - 50m spool
i,Harness,1,Ultralite,$44.96 Black Diamond Couloir Harness
i,Locking Carabiner,1,Ultralite,$21.95 Wild Country Ascent Lite Locking Carabiner
i,Belay Device,1,Must have ""high-fricton mode"" for accessory cord use,$16.46 Black Diamond ATC-XP Belay Device
i,Alpine Aiders,1,Alpine Aiders,$26.36 Black Diamond Alpine Aiders
i,Grappling Hook,1,BD Grappling Hook,$11.96 Black Diamond Grappling Hook
i,Dynex Runners,2,BD Sewn Dynex (1) 120cm and(1) 240 cm,$22.42 Black Diamond Dynex Sewn Runners
i,Ascender,1,Wild Country Ropeman-Gold small ropes,$35.96 Wild Country Ropeman MK2F Ascender-Gold
i,Large Oval Carabiner,1,Round profile and oval shape for Ropeman,$10.36 Petzl Owall Carabiner
i,Prusik loop,1,Prusik Cord 6.5mm, 20", smaller dia than acc cord,$10.95 BlueWater Dynamic Prusik Cord 6.5mm - Sewn Loop
i,Carabiners,2,Ultralite,$11.12 CAMP USA Nano 22 Carabiner
i,Pulley,1,Metal wheel for crossing steel-cable,$37.56 Petzl Partner Compact Pulley
There are several changes to the prior list, but this article will focus on the addition of the last section with the self-rescue gear, all of which fits easily in the middle pocket of the Falcon II, with plenty of room to spare for other items on the list. I do keep the Alpine Aiders attached to the grappling hook with a runner at the top of the pocket, so that I can very quickly get me and my gear over walls or up in a ceiling that is 8 ft or higher.
I first learned how to safely use much of this self-rescue gear as a young boy learning to rock climb, then later received more advanced instruction. It is important to note that this article is not an instructional course. I am not a ropes, rappelling, or self-rescue instructor. SELF-RESCUE IS A VERY DANGEROUS ACTIVITY AND CARRIES THE REAL RISK OF SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH. I highly recommend that you take instruction from a certified and reputable instructor. REI and most university outdoor programs offer inexpensive and fun courses, usually taught by young, fit, and attractive people wearing tight shorts and harnesses, if you are looking for that sort of thing. Course titles may include the words: rappelling, abseiling, tree climbing (true), mountaineering, or rescue training.
That being said, the basic skills of rappelling, ascending, belaying, traversing, and hauling are not hard to learn, nor do they require much strength when done correctly.
Rock climbing (using ropes to protect oneself as one climbs on rock) involves exposing oneself to multiple and high falls above the point of protection (think pendulum), and thus requires the use of dynamic ropes that stretch. My personal belief is that TEOTWAWKI self-rescue (and family rescue) should not expose me or my loved-ones to multiple and high falls above the point of protection, and thus is best accomplished with static rope that has little stretch. Because TEOTWAWKI or self-rescue is not likely to be a repeated event in my lifetime, and because we must carry our self-rescue gear in our GBH backpacks for many miles, and because when given a choice...
I choose to accept the increased risk of using a smaller, lighter, 7mm static accessory cord, instead of a thicker, heavier, safer static assault rope or canyoneering rope. It is important to make sure that all of one's gear and techniques are safely matched to one's choice of rope. As an example, the Ropeman Gold is not certified for use on 7mm accessory cord. However, after some personal testing and deliberation, I have made the personnel choice to accept the risk. Your own choices may certainly be different.
Government workers of the Army persuasion love to tie Swiss seats instead of using a harness. It is a good skill to have, but given the choice, I much prefer a modern alpine harness, as it is faster, more comfortable, safer, and doesn't weigh much more than the cord needed for the Swiss seat. High_Speed_Low_Drag_Tactical_Operators like to imagine themselves rappelling off skyscrapers or being extricated by helicopter using their riggers belts instead of a harness. The problem is that they have likely never experienced the real physical pain of actually rappelling in a riggers belt, or a swami belt, as I have. I much prefer a Black Diamond Couloir harness or similiar, mostly to facilitate training, but do recognize it may take a few additional seconds to put it on versus a riggers belt that is theoretically already (always) being worn.
There are many ways to go up a rope, and probably even a few reasons to actually do so. Who can forget the scene in For Your Eyes Only when James Bond uses his shoe laces to make a couple prusik loops to ascend a rope? Apart from my shoe laces, I also like to have a Ropeman Gold, 1 or 2 sewn prusik loops, and my ATC, not just to ascend, but for hauling and traversing as well. Petzl Tiblocs are great, but don't work well for me on the smaller diameter accessory cord. Other ascenders usually take up too much space and are too heavy for my GBH bag.
After some practice, I can now exit my vehicle, get my harness on, loop my rope around a car or through the concrete barrier, and be on rappel and off the elevated freeway in less than a minute. But it takes practice and the confidence that comes only with practice. I can throw my rope up a tall tree, fire escape, or billboard, and ascend it to find a secure location to take a rest. I can even lasso a pipe on the far side of a chasm and rig a Tyrolean traverse to get me and my gear safely across (thanks to TJ making my even consider that I might want to do this).
So, that seems to me like a good start for this equipment list review. I hope we will have some lively discussions in the comments section. If you do want to put yourself and your equipment to the test, let me remind readers of the Tiger Valley Bug Out Drill that is coming up again this fall. It is a great reason to get your mind, body, and equipment in order BEFORE your life depends on it. Or, you can just plan on waiting for someone to come and rescue you.
T.I.G.E.R. Valley Bug Out Drill
...Bug Out Drill, the challenge unlike any other. You’re driving home from work and an EMP strikes, the Russians have detonated several nukes over the United States. The pulse has destroyed all electronics and chaos has ensued. No signal lights, bank alarms, stores are being robbed for anything of value. You move to your trunk and get you Bug Out bag and start heading home, the best way you know. This means you must trek over wooded and public roads, hiding from possible thugs that might want to strip you of anything of value. Expect 17 or 18 miles of cross country movement, lots of shooting situations and test of your thinking ability and preparedness. You must get home as quickly as possible, good luck.
Peace and love!