This guest post is by Scott G and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
In many years of law enforcement experience, I’ve been in some pretty hairy incidents where I had to think quickly to resolve some bad situations. In spring 1989, I had a contract out on my life after I put a man’s wife in jail. In 1990 I was in a shooting during which I was wounded and shot another person. It was no fun. I’ve been in tons of fights and during January 1991, I had to fight hand to hand – and I mean FIGHT – for my life. In 1997, I arrested a man for DUI and got into a nasty fight during which I broke his arm. After getting out of the hospital and jail, he stalked me for seven years.
My dad taught me from an early age that I had to make up my mind now, before the SHTF as to what I would do in a given situation. If I waited to make up my mind until an aggressor was staring me in the face, I had already set myself up for failure. It would be like a deer caught in the headlights. However, this is only half the battle. It was good that I’d already decided to fight in a given situation, but I also needed further preparation.
In the police academy, I was taught to prepare myself ahead of time by playing the “What If” game. Any good cop plays this game every chance he gets. He thinks up a possible scenario that could go wrong then comes up with some specific solutions. He comes up with as many scenarios as he can imagine along with the proper reaction, then goes over them time and time and time again.
Any good prepper will do the same thing. The problem with emergency situations is that they never pick an opportune time to present themselves. The shooting I was involved in happened when I least expected it. I was off duty and not paying as close attention to the situation as I should have, then BOOM. I was shot and the other person was sliding down the wall with my bullet in her.
I was mentally prepared for just about anything and I didn’t panic, but the aftereffects lasted for years. The one thing a cop fears the most about a shooting is the review board. The aftermath of a shooting consists of everyone second guessing you. Every decision you made leading up the incident is reviewed, reviewed and reviewed some more, even if the shooting is blatantly righteous. The same thing will happen to you if you discharge a weapon.
This is why mental preparedness is the key to survival. You’ve got to be READY for anything, especially the aftermath. I lived through the stressful head games of Army basic training because my dad taught me to survive. The military lives for head games, because war is hell on earth. I was taught that you can deal with stress by doing two things: Change your situation and if you can’t, change your perspective, your outlook on life. One other thing that helps deal with stress is knowing about a stressor ahead of time.
In the police academy, I was taught that you can survive some pretty horrendous injuries simply by truly believing that you will live when all others will die. A tape was played of a 911 call in which an undercover officer had called in after being shot. Heart-breaking can’t even come close to describing the tone of the dying officer. The problem was that this officer had been hit in a non-vital area. It was a survivable wound, but he faded out and died.
An after action report consisted of interviews of his friends and fellow officers, and a minute by minute reconstruction of the incident. The wound was caused by a 9mm and was lower down on the side of his body near the hip. A drug buy/bust went bad after the officer was made by the suspect. A shoot-out ensued with the officer being hit and the suspect fleeing the scene. In the tape you could hear the officer giving up. No amount of encouragement by the dispatcher got him to change his attitude. Interviews with his fellow officers revealed that he talked about how horrible it would be to get shot and how very few people survived a shot to the torso. The report concluded that because he was shot, he expected to die.
Being determined that you will live through any situation is the key. On September 21, 1876, the remains of the James/Younger Gang were tracked down to the Hanska Slough after they attempted to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, MN. A gun battle ensued during which Cole Younger was shot a total of eleven times. He lived to be sentenced to life in prison. James Brady and Gabriel Giffords both lived through head shots. Just because you’ve been shot doesn’t necessarily mean you will die.
POW’s from every war lived and even thrived in spite of brutal treatment. Yeah, they had years of PTSD, nightmares and continual hyper-vigilance, but they survived. For a while after my shooting incident, I had nightmares, but I did not suffer from guilt; I never have. I am hyper-vigilant; I’m constantly looking around for any possible threat, but I am alive. I wake up at the slightest sound. When I had the contract on my life, I didn’t run and I didn’t quake in fear. I lived and I thrived.
Your mental state of mind will allow you to live through the worst privations and abuse imaginable, whether physical or mental, but you’ve got to prepare ahead of time. Because I’m a Christian, I would say that the single most important thing you can do to mentally prepare is pray. Don’t just pray mechanically, pray as if you were in the same room as your Heavenly Father and were talking to him face to face. Pray about all your decisions and ask Him for advice. Prayer got me through the absolute worst time of my life.
One last thing: listen to your gut; it will not lead you astray. I have a finely tuned sixth sense, which I attribute to a different source: the Holy Spirit. I’m not getting all religious on you; I’m simply telling you what works. During all my time as a police officer, I listened closely to my gut. I can tell you that with one exception, I listened to my gut. Not one single time (except for the shooting) did I ever get surprised by anyone. I always knew of danger ahead of time and I truly mean this; I was NEVER surprised.
If what I sincerely believe will happen in the next five years happens, you will need to be mentally prepared. If you wait to mentally prepare till the SHTF, I suggest you dig your grave now because you won’t have time later.
This contest will end on December 16 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive a Go Berkey Kit water filter valued at $150 and a copy of my book “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness ” and a copy of “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat“.
- Second Place: $150 gift certificate for Magtech Ammo.
- Third Place: $50 Cash.
- The Prepper's Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How
- The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook: Over 170 Pages of Food Storage Tips, and Recipes From Preppers All Over America!
- Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man's Solution
- 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness