Don Pablo Edronkin

Emergencies during wilderness trips (III).



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"If a group has been previously organised in such a way as to prevent discussions of this kind, this fact will almost certainly serve to save valuable time during the actual emergency and will also provide better results with lesser efforts because there will be a head in charge of management much as there has to be one in a company or workplace.

The way in which survival, adventure and trekking groups get eventually organised depends much on the cultural environment of their members or associates. Members of the armed forces will follow their orders or at least, will re-create some sort of explicitly defined hierarchy, even after a long period of isolation.

Tourists under the same circumstances, passengers of a crashed aircraft, etc. would tend to resort to democratic measure unless a natural leader appears.

Each one of such systems has its advantages and disadvantages. Military or business-like systems – that is, those that are regimented and based on ranks – are generally efficient for fast decision-making processes because a quality leader can take decisions quickly.

However, if the leader or leaders are not competent and just base their authority on their rank, then the whole group risks being caught in arbitrary decisions which could well jeopardise the survival of all members. 
                     
On the other hand, deliberative systems of management under emergency or survival circumstances tend to be less arbitrary, but decisions will usually take time and the quality of them will usually follow the average lines of the group. 

A shelter during a real survival situation.
This picture was taken during an actual survival situation. Four
people with gear are sleeping under these ponchos during a
storm in a Patagonian forest near El Bolsón, Argentina.


That is, deliberations usually produce decisions which are inferior in quality to those taken by a real expert. If within such a group there is a beginner as well as a seasoned individual, the decisions that will be eventually taken, will be some sort of an average between the experience of both persons.

Under normal, citadine circumstances this is never much of an issue, but within the frame of a survival situation, such mistakes or lack of wisdom – so to speak – could leave the group in trouble."





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