Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why: CMSART Book Review
Laurence Gonzales' Deep Survival: Lives, Who Dies and Why offers some fascinating insight into the nature of survival. He covers a wide range of topics including the physiological origins of fear in the human brain and the qualities of a survivor, providing numerous real-world examples to illustrate his points.
Often, the events he describes are the result of numerous tiny errors in preparation and judgement, and professionals are not immune to making these mistakes. Indeed, being familiar with a particular routine or system may lead one to overlook basic, critical elements. In such cases, professionals may be subconsciously aware that something is wrong, but dismiss it in the interest of time and an appearance of confidence or professionalism.
Of particular interest to people involved in search and rescue is the chapter that describes how people end up lost, and how the stress of being lost can lead rational people to make highly irrational decisions. He uses the term "bending the map" (borrowed from orienteering lingo) to describe how people try to make the real world fit their mental map of where things should be, instead of vice versa. Considering how easy this is to do with compass and map in hand, it is no wonder that people withoout these tools can really do a number on themselves, believing that safety is just around the corner.
Suffice it to say, I highly recommend this book. In addition to conferring a good deal of information relevant to search and rescue efforts, it is also just a good read.
N. Harrison Ripps ~ CMSART Member