Having a big smile on his face but with long hair and hands in pockets, Afsal poses for a picture while he is wearing blue jeans and dark blue shirt

First-aid and swimming “help me to manage flood-like situations confidently”

Can our attitude affect our survival? How many types of shelters can you build? Can you light a fire without a matchbox or lighter? How to survive in the wilderness? Can accessibility help in disaster time? How about training and empowerment? What is the “rule of three” in survival?

The Lifesaving Camp 2022 empowered four blind participants through swimming, first-aid, and survival training. During the camp, Muhammed Afsal, who is blind, learned three styles of swimming: freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke. Afsal is pursuing a Ph.D. in social work from TISS-Mumbai. He has joined our camp to help himself and others during crises.

First-aid and swimming “help me to manage flood-like situations confidently. I will be able to protect my fellow friends during such disaster situations,” says Afsal.

A flood in 2018 in Kerala, south of India, killed hundreds of people, and more than a dozen went missing. Although there are many water bodies, lakes, rivers, streams, and a long ocean coast, many are not able to swim. Lack of this skill still causes many deaths even in situations when there are no floods. When natural disasters occur, everyone feels disabled. However, people with real disabilities are forgotten. At Stretch More, we empower disabled persons to survive during crises. As a person with a disability, I believe just survival is not enough. We should help the people around us. Therefore, Lifesaving Camp 2022 brought together four blind participants, so they could learn survival skills and first-aid in order to help themselves and others in chaotic situations.

Each participant learned two styles of swimming. Now is the time that they work on their stamina. We gave them tools and the participants should give their best. Survival needs preparation and practice. The most important survival skill is maintaining a level-headed mental attitude. Your state of mind is key to effectively assessing your situation and responding properly to the challenges at hand. Numerous studies have documented the devastating impacts of panic-stricken states during survival situations. When panicked, logical decision-making can go out the window, and persons are known to make irrational choices that often lead to their demise. (by Jason Knight and Alderleaf Wilderness College)

Afsal and his co-participants practiced building shelter with very limited resources. As long as accessibility is concerned, tools such as tactile flooring for the blind will not help in disasters. Therefore, training and empowerment is the right approach for the disabled who are still mobile.

In survival, we need to prioritize our needs. The best way to do this is to use the rule of three. A human can generally survive 3 minutes without breathable air, 3 hours in a harsh environment (extreme cold or heat), 3 days without drinkable water, and three weeks without food. Depending on the situation, priorities play an integral part. Next time in a situation like this remember the rule of three and use your survival skills.

Our fire-making sessions were the toughest. We tried every morning for four days. Drained of energy, we felt exhausted in the afternoons. We tried three methods of fire-making: hand drill, bow drill, and fire plow. Each time the smoke was rising of rubbing sticks together, we got excited. Everyone was screaming with joy. We were relaxing then. Big smiles covered our faces. However, the joy didn’t last long because we never got an ember. You might think that we gave up. Actually, you are right. But, do you know any technique that creates fire without a matchbox or lighter? Do let us know.

Stay tuned! More is on the way.

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21 Feb – 07 Mar 2022

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