By Gerry Godsoe
This article is crucial to read before going into the wilderness alone to prevent serious injuries or death, explaining the potential dangers of panic and irrational thinking.
The article talks about a forestry worker from the 1980s who went missing on Vancouver Island, and within 24 hours was found running erratically with no clothing on except for one sock. Panic, caused by “Bush Madness”, caused him to run wildly and become overheated, which prompted him to strip off his clothes irrationally. “Bush Madness” is used to describe symptoms when a lost person does irrational things, such as wandering aimlessly at night or day, putting themselves at risk of injury, death, or not being found. This worker was pushed to “paradoxical stripping”, which is where the temperature-regulating part of the brain becomes confused, causing him to feel too warm. This heat loss can hasten possible death, but this man was rescued in time by the RCMP.
This article taught me the importance of rational thinking and not panicking if you get lost. Survival books use the acronym “STOP”, which stands for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. If ever you get lost, stay put and keep warm to help searchers find you. It’s more important for you to keep yourself alive while searchers look for you. The most important lesson that everyone should learn and remember is to ALWAYS tell someone where you are going and when you should be back, that way you will always be found!
Godsoe, Gerry. Don’t Go Out of Your Head when you’re out in the Bush. Ottawa Outdoors. Spring/Summer 2009.