|Should there be an accident, or a member of your group is taken ill, you have two choices: either send someone for help or wait for help to arrive. The decision you make will depend on the weather conditions, the ability to navigate, how far it is to get help, and what kind of terrain you will have to cover. Only in the most extreme circumstances should a victim be left alone, and you should leave the injured person spare clothing and food. The victim will also require a whistle and/or flashlight in order to alert the rescue services. Finally, the person should be told to stay where he is and not move.
Whoever goes for help should carry with them enough spare clothing and equipment to deal with any situation that may be faced. The person should also take the following information:
- The exact location of the injured person or group (this is best done using a six-figure grid reference).
- What has happened.
- When it occurred.
- What injuries or condition they have.
- A description of where they are.
- Who else is with them.
There are internationally recognized signals that can be used while out in the wilderness that are easily remembered and require no special equipment. Although shouting for help may attract attention, after a while you will become hoarse and tired. Voices do not carry as well as other sounds such as whistle blast, which can be heard over surprisingly large distances. At night, light can also travel much further than voices during the day a reflective object as much as a mirror can send rays of the sun a considerable distance.
There are two international signals for help. The first is SOS, which represents the phrase Save Our Souls. Although Morse code is no longer used in everyday life, it is still practiced to summon help in emergency situations. For an audible signal on a whistle, give three short blasts (S) three long blasts (O) and three shorts blasts (S). With a light signal, give three short flashes (S) three long flashes (O) and three short flashes (S). Alternatively, six blasts of whistle or six flashes of light in quick succession also mean that help is needed. A red flare also acts as an emergency distress call on water and in the mountains.
COMMUNICATING WITH THE RESCUE TEAMS
You may find that you can hear instructions given by a mountain rescue team or similar through a megaphone from a helicopter but are unable to shout back to them.
There are three ways in which you can communicate that you understood their message:
Send up a white flare
- Give three blasts on a whistle in quick succession, repeated after a 1-minute interval.
- Give three flashes of the flashlight in quick succession, repeated after a 1-minute interval