Ever wondered if you have what it takes to survive off grid in a remote, hostile environment? We had an inspirational chat with Survival Instructor, cast member of "Dude You're Screwed" and Founder of Survival Wisdom, John Hudson who has experience of doing exactly that!
Hi John – We're all eager to learn more about your area of expertise so we're chuffed you've joined us here today! Firstly, tell us as a SERE instructor at the UK Military’s survival school, how do you train someone to have the right mental attitude in a survival situation?
It can take a while to fully adapt to any new or dangerous situation. Even when you know all the right things that you should be doing, it can seem like there’s just too much for you. The secret is simple- don’t sit around thinking of ‘survival’ as one huge overwhelming problem; think of it as lots of little jobs that are easy to do one after the other- and get started!
Yes, that makes a lot of sense . We’ve seen you successfully survive some incredibly harsh environments in the series “Dude, You’re Screwed”, where you have to make your way back to civilization within 100 hours or game over. Looks tough but fun!
We’re wondering what has been the most challenging environment you’ve ever found yourself in and how did you get out of it?
I’ve been lucky enough to practice survival skills all over the globe. Of all of them the harshest environment you can ever be dropped into is the sea, so we practice that a lot where I work. Without the right gear, and the UK has some of the best in the world, you cannot survive. I train people to know what to take with them when they cross oceans and importantly how to use it if they end up in the water. After thermal protection and something to help you float, one vital thing to take is a rescue beacon, that’s the only sure way out.
Being an outdoor expert, if you were stranded in the middle of a) the jungle b) the desert c) the arctic what would be the one item you’d like to have with you in each situation to help you survive the conditions? (Apart from a distress beacon!).
Ha ha- first off; there’s no such thing as a survival expert, there’s too much to know. But I’m flattered, cheers! And yes I would normally say take a distress beacon- you’re not a survivor til you’re rescued, but…
a) If I was stranded in the middle of a jungle I’d want my parang (jungle knife). Once you have a little knowledge you can find or make pretty much everything you need in the jungle with a good parang. Build shelters, light fires for rescue and to boil water, cut winch holes for rescue helicopters, make traps or cut down palms for food and importantly look tough for the rescue photo.
b) Desert survival is hard, you need lots of water but you’ll never have enough with you to go looking for more. If you go mooching off looking for water you’ll die of thirst, so you have to ration your sweat and stay put in order to get rescued. In the desert the one thing that will keep you alive for long enough to get found is something that creates good shade. There’s a strong space blanket made by an american firm called Grabber that’s great for that: silver side out by day and its both top shade and a reflective signal, silver side in by night when the desert gets cold to keep you warm.
c) The arctic is brutal, I was just up in the NorthWest Passage training with the Canadian SERE school (hello lads) and it got down below -60ºC. At those temperatures you have to build snow shelters to get out of the weather, but the snow can be hard packed. So in the true arctic above the tree line I’d take a snow saw to cut blocks out and make a snow shelter. Best to get some training first though, its hard to have grand design ideas when it’s too cold to think.
Awesome. We're taking notes! Finally, If you had one survival tip you could give to people who have not had any training, what would it be?
Go outside more. Even if that’s just for a daily lunch break it’ll help you to cope if disaster thrusts you into a fresh-aired wilderness. (Plus being in open spaces has been proven to make us feel happier in our day to day, e-mail deleting norm.)
Cheers John – It's been incredibly interesting chatting to you and we’re definitely up to giving the last one a go!
John Hudson wears the R/E made in Britain Navy Harris Commando Roll Knit