Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

The Times I Almost Died, Part One

Search this blog

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Survivalist
In your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

May 06, 2014
The Times I Almost Died, Part One - 4

I can say with confidence that I am truly blessed to be alive today after some of the misadventures I’ve endured throughout my life. While I often use these blog posts to share how-to information related to the vast field of survival, this week I’ll tell you about the three times I should have died. And to add a little service to these episodes, we’ll also talk about the psychology and physiology of survival that can that either keep us alive or cost us our lives.

My first brush with death came during my teenage years. I must have been 15 or 16, just a bald-faced lad who had only recently become interested in survival skills. My parents and I were on a trip, driving down a busy interstate in the family minivan. I remember being quite bored, until an odd sight caught my eye.

In the lane to our right was a fire truck being towed by a very large tow truck. This fire truck was clean and shiny; new looking, in fact. I had never seen a fire truck being towed before, and it seemed odd how the front half of this red truck was lifted up on the tow truck’s back. I unbuckled my seatbelt and moved across the van to get a better look. As this uncommon piggyback passed us, I heard a very loud bang. I’m sure the ensuing chain of events happened very fast, but it all seemed slow to me. The huge steel driveshaft from underneath the fire truck had broken free and bounced to the left into our lane of traffic. As this quarter-ton of metal began to bounce on the asphalt, I found myself crouched in the middle of the mini-van, just behind and between my mom’s and dad’s seats. I saw the drive shaft immediately in front of us, bouncing as if it were dangling from a sting. For a moment, the end of the shaft was lined up perfectly with the center of the van’s windshield. I sat there unable to move, watching helplessly as the titanic metal spear moved closer.

As the distance between the driveshaft and our vehicle closed, the miraculous happened. The shaft end drove downward and hit the bottom of the van’s front bumper. The crunching sound and the jumping van let me know that we had made contact, and I snapped out of my stupor as if I had been slapped. The van skated over the metal of the shaft and we came to a halt, as did the rest of the traffic behind us. Not one of us had as much as a scratch—no one in my family, or anyone behind us. The only damage to our van was on the front bumper and some component of the air conditioning system had been torn free. We had made it. I had made it, but by grace and through no effort of my own. I had fallen prey to a psychological and physical response as old as humanity. I froze. This natural reaction might have kept some of our ancestors alive, such as when threatened by a predator scanning for motion. But this “frozen like a scared rabbit” response has most likely taken more lives than it has saved over the millennia.     

When the brain perceives a “fight or flight” scenario, neurotransmitters and hormones can create a third reaction: freezing. This frozen state is a sensory overload in your brain, meaning that your ability to process sensations (such as vision, hearing, and touch) is completely overwhelmed. It may not be possible to logically or mentally override this automatic response in a timely manner, but there are some ways to snap out of it. Here are four of your best options.

1. Concentrate your vision. Pick just one thing to look at, rather than gazing unfocused as you would when frozen.
 
2. Focus on your breathing. Count your breaths, or just think about breathing. This calms the mind and body, and can restore your ability to think and move.

3. Study the things around you, using your senses. Try to think about what you smell, feel, hear, and see.

4. Rub your hands together. This draws your awareness to touch. It’s a little action, using only gross motor skills, which you should be able to perform under any conditions. It can also get you moving and help you to break free from your psychological bonds.

Ever have a close call? How did you react? Tell us about it in the comments.

Comments (4)

» Write a Comment
Top Rated
All Comments
from huntfishtrap wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

The closest I've ever come to death is an incident when I was a teenager when my dad and I were baling hay. We were loading small square bales onto our pickup, dad was riding on top of the load stacking the bales, and I was throwing them up to him. We had a pretty big load on already when I stopped the truck on a slope right at the end of the field to grab the last bales. I was just learning how to drive a stick-shift, and I made the mistake of not puting it into 1st gear or setting the parking brake when I stopped. I had just gotten out of the cab when the truck popped out of gear and started rolling back down the hill. Normally, I wouldn't have been brave enough or dumb enough to try what I did, but because Dad was on top of the teetering load, I panicked. I ran up alongside the truck, which wasn't moving very fast yet, opened the door, and tried to jump in. But because it was rolling backwards, the door swung shut on me as I tried to climb into the cab, and knocked me off my feet. I fell down right beside the cab, and I was sure that the front wheel was going to go over at least some part of me. It seemed like time stood still as I frantically tried to roll away from the now quickly-moving truck, and somehow I made it away unscathed, apart from bruises and some psychological trauma. The wheel couldn't have missed me by more than a few inches. The lesson in this is don't panic, because the truck just rolled down to the bottom of the hill, which wasn't very big, hit a small tree on the edge of the field, and stopped, and dad was never really in much danger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

Sounds like a scene from a Final Destination movie.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ozarkghost wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

On 31 October 2006 I should have died from a heart attack. Thanks to my youngest daughter calling 911 without being told and without panicking, I am alive today. It is funny, but while I was in the midst of the heart attack all I could think was that I had not made the first payment on a brand new motorcycle that I had just taken delivery of. In other emergency situations I have found myself being able to do and be thinking of something completely different than the situation at hand.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tioughnioga wrote 10 weeks 3 days ago

I was twelve when I was stung by one yellow jacket while I was mowing the lawn. We lived way out in the boonies. My dad, who was home during the day because he was ill, knew right away that my fast-spreading hives meant that I was going into anaphylactic shock. He tossed me in the car and off we went for the hospital, a half-hour away. I was unconscious by the time we got there; I learned later that my heart had stopped just seconds after my dad carried me in. I woke up the next day in a hospital bed, where I stayed for four days. Nothing unique here; millions are allergic to stings. But I have to say that this event, and knowing that a buzzy little bug can kill me, made me a better outdoorsman in the sense that I never have been subject to the "Bad things won't happen to me" mentality. I was carrying a full survival kit years before it became trendy. Even in my teens and early twenties, I never took any risks in the outdoors.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

from Tioughnioga wrote 10 weeks 3 days ago

I was twelve when I was stung by one yellow jacket while I was mowing the lawn. We lived way out in the boonies. My dad, who was home during the day because he was ill, knew right away that my fast-spreading hives meant that I was going into anaphylactic shock. He tossed me in the car and off we went for the hospital, a half-hour away. I was unconscious by the time we got there; I learned later that my heart had stopped just seconds after my dad carried me in. I woke up the next day in a hospital bed, where I stayed for four days. Nothing unique here; millions are allergic to stings. But I have to say that this event, and knowing that a buzzy little bug can kill me, made me a better outdoorsman in the sense that I never have been subject to the "Bad things won't happen to me" mentality. I was carrying a full survival kit years before it became trendy. Even in my teens and early twenties, I never took any risks in the outdoors.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ozarkghost wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

On 31 October 2006 I should have died from a heart attack. Thanks to my youngest daughter calling 911 without being told and without panicking, I am alive today. It is funny, but while I was in the midst of the heart attack all I could think was that I had not made the first payment on a brand new motorcycle that I had just taken delivery of. In other emergency situations I have found myself being able to do and be thinking of something completely different than the situation at hand.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWK_MN wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

Sounds like a scene from a Final Destination movie.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 10 weeks 2 days ago

The closest I've ever come to death is an incident when I was a teenager when my dad and I were baling hay. We were loading small square bales onto our pickup, dad was riding on top of the load stacking the bales, and I was throwing them up to him. We had a pretty big load on already when I stopped the truck on a slope right at the end of the field to grab the last bales. I was just learning how to drive a stick-shift, and I made the mistake of not puting it into 1st gear or setting the parking brake when I stopped. I had just gotten out of the cab when the truck popped out of gear and started rolling back down the hill. Normally, I wouldn't have been brave enough or dumb enough to try what I did, but because Dad was on top of the teetering load, I panicked. I ran up alongside the truck, which wasn't moving very fast yet, opened the door, and tried to jump in. But because it was rolling backwards, the door swung shut on me as I tried to climb into the cab, and knocked me off my feet. I fell down right beside the cab, and I was sure that the front wheel was going to go over at least some part of me. It seemed like time stood still as I frantically tried to roll away from the now quickly-moving truck, and somehow I made it away unscathed, apart from bruises and some psychological trauma. The wheel couldn't have missed me by more than a few inches. The lesson in this is don't panic, because the truck just rolled down to the bottom of the hill, which wasn't very big, hit a small tree on the edge of the field, and stopped, and dad was never really in much danger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

bmxbiz