Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
There’s a lot of “romance” surrounding the idea of the lone wolf prepper. We’ve all seen “reality TV shows” where some survivalist is pitting themselves against nature, supposedly on their own, while the cameras watch and record. Going back before such programs exist, we have the legacy of Grizzly Adams to foster this same idea. Pitting ourselves alone against nature seems to be the ultimate test for the survivalist, allowing us to prove that nature has nothing tougher than us.
There’s just one thing… attempting such a thing might make for great television, especially when there are emergency personnel standing by; but it’s also a great way to get yourself killed. There are just too many things that need to be done in order to survive, especially for any prolonged period of time. There are also too many things that can happen, such as an injury, which will drop our chances of survival to right around zero.
Besides the amount of work required to survive, there’s the issue of self-defense. You can be sure that there will be those who gang together in order to take advantage of whomever they can, stealing supplies and killing the innocent. While you may be able to defend yourself against two or three assailants, there’s no way that any of us can defend ourselves against a gang. The press of sheer numbers and superior firepower will ultimately give them the victory; maybe not the first time, but eventually.
While there might be times when someone has to survive on their own, such as having their vehicle slide off the road in the middle of a blizzard, solo survival shouldn’t be our base plan. We are much more likely to be faced with a survival situation where we are around others, so it only makes sense to include others in our survival plans, especially if we can find the right people.
This may not be important to get through the next hurricane or winter blizzard, but if we are ever faced with a long-term survival situation, then we’re going to need the help of others. While our own survival skills will be important, none of us know everything. We’ll need people who have skills that we’re missing.
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But before we even look at the skills that others have, there are a few other things which are even more important; without them, those people might be more of a liability than an asset.
- Ability to get along with others – Someone who brings strife into the team will eventually end up causing it to split. Better to have people with lesser skills, who can get along with everyone else in the team.
- Likeminded about survival – People who aren’t preppers or survivalists on their own aren’t going to be willing to put the effort into helping the team prepare.
- Committed to the team – There’s going to be work, and there are going to be joint costs in preparing. People who aren’t willing to contribute aren’t a help; they’re a hindrance.
- Proximity – I’ve seen too many survival teams which were scattered all across town. If the people in your team don’t live close together or have a common place they can use as a survival retreat, they aren’t going to be able to help each other out when the time comes.
Now that we’ve established those basic criteria for the type of people needed to form the survival team, what sorts of skills should those people have? Ideally, each team member will bring more than one skill to the table, or if they don’t already have those skills, be willing to put the time and effort into learning them.
- Basic survival – While that’s something everyone will need, there should be one person in the group who is a true expert on survival skills.
- Leadership – Someone has to be in charge and it has to be someone who others will accept, either due to their knowledge or due to their leadership ability.
- Infantry tactics & self-defense – Since one of the main reasons for building a survival team is for mutual defense, there needs to be someone who knows infantry tactics, to act as the team’s defensive coordinator.
- Medical skills – Besides a defensive expert, probably the most important person to recruit for the team will be someone to act as the team medic, with the necessary first aid skills to take care of emergency wounds and injuries.
- Gardening or farming – The biggest work of the team, which will take the most overall effort, will probably be growing food. People who are skilled gardeners, who can get the most out of your gardens, will be essential.
- Animal husbandry – As with gardening, raising animals for food will be necessary. That can be a lot harder than most of us realize, especially without vets and feed stores.
- Food preservation – While it would be hoped that everyone on the team knows a variety of ways to preserve food, this essential skill should not be overlooked.
- General & mechanical repairs – Undoubtedly there will be a need to repair things, whether that’s a pump drawing water from a well or a firearm. People who can repair almost anything will become just as valuable as medical personnel in such a time.
Other Skills to Add
While the skills listed above are the most important, there are other skills that should be considered. I probably wouldn’t add someone to the team just for having one of these secondary skills; but I would certainly like to have team members who know these skills, in addition to the ones above.
The real distinction is that I don’t feel that someone who can only do these skills would be pulling their weight for the team as a whole.
- Counselor – Everyone is going to struggle to deal with the changed situation, some more than others. People like ministers, who have experience in helping others work through those problems, can help keep team members on an even keel, rather than them turning into a liability.
- Midwifery – While the medic above can probably deal with delivering babies, if a midwife could be found, that would be helpful to the women in the team.
- Hunting, Fishing & Trapping – Some might think that this should be in the “essential” list above; but in reality there probably won’t be a lot of wild game to hunt, as there are many hunters amongst the unprepared.
- Tanning & Leatherworking – Assuming that the hunters in the group actually find some big game to hunt, it would be useful to be able to turn the hide into leather for making shoes, harnesses, and other things.
- Blacksmithing – The old-time blacksmith could make pretty much anything out of metal. While blacksmithing is pretty much a lost craft, it could be extremely useful in a long-term survival situation.
- Woodworking – From repairing homes to making plows, there are a lot of things that an experienced woodworker could do to help the team.
- Communications – While not a priority, being able to communicate with the outside world could help you find out what’s going on, as well as possibly getting help, if the government still exists. I’ll warn you though, I’ve seen a lot of people who wanted to join a team, where communications was the only skill they had to offer.
- Education – Assuming team members have children, some plan will need to be made to educate them, whether that is homeschooling or having them study together under the guidance of a teacher.
- Bartering – The ability to barter, making sure that you get a good deal is not really all that common. This will be useful if you have a stockpile of trade goods; but it will be even more useful in the long-term, as your team starts to produce things that can be traded with others.
- Scavenging – Finding things that can be useful to the team and then finding how to get into where it is and get it is a unique skill as well. But care must be taken with this, as to not turn scavenging into stealing. The basic difference is whether the original owner needs it.
- Sewing – As we all lose weight, our clothing will need to be taken in to still be wearable. At the same time, our children will be growing, so they will need adult clothing cut down and turned into children’s clothes. Both these things require good sewing skills.
That list may seem rather long, especially the second part; but keep in mind that you really want people who can do several of those things. Some, like midwifery, aren’t going to be needed very often, while others, like sewing, can be done in the evening around the fire, by people who are doing other things during the day.
You don’t have to accept everyone who comes to you. Vet potential team members carefully and then require a trail period to see how well they fit in with the existing team members. You’re going to be depending on these people to stay alive, so it’s essential that you get the right people in your team.
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Great list. Very helpful and thought provoking. One addition , FORAGING !!!
Bemused Berserker says
All of this also can be related to civilian CERT teams. Teams of concerned citizens ready to aid in community emergencies. Every desired quality for disaster aid, is also the desired quality for emergency response members.