Would You be Able to Leave Someone Behind?

P. Henry
By P. Henry June 14, 2016 15:18

Would You be Able to Leave Someone Behind?

I routinely think about the potential of bugging out with my family. When I do consider how this would work logistically, I probably paint a rosier picture than is prudent from the standpoint of the circumstances that would necessitate me having to resort to this option. If my family is bugging out, things are very bad. If I am bugging out, it is with the plan that we won’t be coming back and the situation on the ground at my home is one that is not suitable for living anymore. As it stands right now, I don’t have a large survival group or network of friends that plan to rendezvous on the outskirts of town at our rally point. It would be me and my family which believe it or not does not consist of a high-speed, low drag platoon of Army Rangers.

Assuming again that the circumstances were unlivable at home and we were forced to hit the trail with only our carefully selected survival gear in our pre-packed Bug Out bags. The act of simply walking into the wilderness for many miles exposed to whatever the element conditions were on that given day, with my family would take more time than I would like, cause them a lot of stress and frayed nerves and would make us extremely more vulnerable. This is assuming everyone was healthy, suffered no injuries along the way and we actually had a place to go. I view aspects of bugging out with caution but I still think my immediate family could make it physically. I know there would be dangers if we were forced to hike to a safer location, but I usually stop at plans for minor first aid, shelter from the elements, food and water and lastly security. It would be tough, but we could make it I believe if grace were on our side.

But what if members of your group weren’t at the top of their game physically so to speak. What if some have serious health issues? What if someone was gravely injured or had a serious medical emergency that you simply couldn’t deal with? What if you couldn’t go on?

A recent and recently frequent contributor to the Prepper Journal, Bolo asked me the following question the other day.

What would you do if someone in your group became unable to continue the journey?  This frequently happens with smuggling groups, where a person is suffering from hyperthermia or has a heart attack or stroke.  Predictably, the “Coyote” guide will abandon them in the desert and continue on with the rest of his group.  He has a schedule to maintain, a pre-set load up area, and a pay day to think about.  Many of these people die where they were left on the trail and the Coyote would be facing murder charges if he was apprehended.

I think Bolo was framing this question from the perspective of a bug out scenario that involved his local regional desert environment but the risks aren’t limited to long treks over barren stretches of uninhabited land. The potential for circumstances arising in your group that would cause you to be forced to stop or radically change your travel plans are common to every prepper I think and I found this question intriguing because it wasn’t something I had spent too much time thinking about.

Never leave a man behind?

There is an unspoken bond as humans that we share that compels us to take care of other people we are with. This could be obvious bonds like you have with your family members, friends or even acquaintances. It could also be not as obvious as in the case of people we might not know from Adam, but find ourselves traveling with. Passengers who are involved in plane crashes or commuting accidents, shoppers at a mall under attack from religious fanatics or guests at a hotel involved in a bombing are frequently cited as helping one another out during and after the disaster even though they have no tangible vested interest in offering assistance. Instead of running in the opposite direction to protect their own lives, many people rush into danger at a very real risk to their own safety simply because they are driven by some innate compulsion to help. I can say now while I am sitting in my chair typing on my computer that I think I would always do the same thing for my fellow humans but is that really true?

The U.S. Army’s Soldier’s Creed has as one of its lines: I will never leave a fallen comrade. This is simple to understand and I never questioned it when I served in the military. Though I did not see combat, I believe that I would have lived that creed out in whatever capacity to the best of my abilities. Your comrades are your brothers in arms who are right there with you in harm’s way. You would want them to help you get home and you would willingly do the same for any of them.

Related: How to Survive the First 24 Hours after the SHTF

But… if SHTF and we as families with children and groups of like-minded individuals, not an Army with transportation and resupply capabilities, are forced to abandon the relative safety and shelter of our homes; are things different? Going back to earlier, I have to believe that if I am bugging out with my family, things are bad. This isn’t, the roads are out and the power won’t be back on for a few days bad. It is danger serious and we fear for our lives bad. In this case, anything that prevents you from escaping that situation could end up killing you.

Using Bolo’s example of his series on Covering Your Tracks where your survival group is forced to flee from some force who is tracking you;  speed of travel has to be a factor in there somewhere. If you aren’t able to travel faster than your pursuers, while hopefully not leaving any tracks, you could eventually be caught. Anything that prevents your travel to that safer destination is potentially a risk to your entire group.

fork-in-the-road

Some decisions you make can completely change your plans.

Tough Decisions

I think about this from a couple of different viewpoints because I do have people in my family who would simply not be able to make it if they were forced to bug out. For health or age reasons some of my relatives might decide that they would rather die where they were than try to begin a long and arduous journey they knew for themselves anyway, was next to impossible. This is its own moral dilemma. Do you leave someone behind to face certain death or do you bring them along with you understanding that eventually they will not be able to continue, may hate you for it and could face death in the wilderness possibly exposing you to greater danger in the process?

Another aspect would be people traveling with you who are perhaps part of your group. Like the people on that ferry crossing a body of water, you are traveling together. Perhaps you know them but it may be that you have no relationship with them other than your shared survival instincts. Maybe these are neighbors. What if one of them becomes injured and is unable to continue? What if they must be carried and this slows your group down? How much risk are you willing to accept for someone you don’t know if it means putting people you do know and love at risk? These aren’t your buddies sent you on a mission somewhere overseas, these could be relative strangers.

Related: What You Need in Your SHTF Survival Team

The problem with this thought exercise is that as Bolo rightly pointed out; there are too many “what-ifs” to offer anything more than a lot of different scenarios for us to contemplate. What is the disaster that has forced you from your home? Are you fleeing from anyone in particular or is this a general need to get to a safer environment that allows you some flexibility with movement and time? How serious are the injuries or circumstances that are affecting the person? Would they be able to continue the journey with medical care or rest? Can you afford the detour necessary and potential delays to provide the care needed to them? Is there even the possibility of medical care in this SHTF scenario? Are they injured past the point of care that you can provide? Are they telling you to go on without them because they know they are slowing you down or jeopardizing the group? Do you leave them with some food, water, and extra ammo for their rifle, or do you give them one bullet and your throw away pistol?

What if this is your diabetic, overweight mother who simply can’t handle the stress or physical activity required to make the trek and refuses to budge any longer? What if they give up on you?

Like some posts on the Prepper Journal, I am going to have to say I don’t know what I would do. I can make statements and plans now, but I don’t think any of us really know what we will do in some cases do until we do it. I think the concept of never leave a man behind is noble. I’d like to believe I would try to live up to that creed, but would I jeopardize my children to honor that promise? Would I sacrifice my wife’s safety for a stranger? It may be that for the safety of others you are forced to choose between one life and the lives of many. I honestly don’t know and like other circumstances we discuss I hope I never have to find out what I would do.

What do you think? Could you leave someone behind if you had to?

This article was written by P. Henry and first appeared on The Prepper Journal

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P. Henry
By P. Henry June 14, 2016 15:18
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19 Comments

  1. Taxdn2poverty June 15, 03:30

    Keep in mind please that we are not dealing with the Western mentality of no one left behind. The Eastern mentality is the one that is coming for us. They will not show mercy in any form…they have already proven that and they are just getting started. Let me play Devil’s advocate here. Let’s say one of your parents is not able to make the trip. They get half way and collapse. What if they are captured and divulge where your bug out location is? What if one of your children becomes lost? Are you going to spend the time and effort to attempt to find the child, thus endangering your entire family. Are you going to the nursing home and attempt to take Granddad and Mom with you too. No one wants to hear this but it is a sad fact of life, family is a great distraction. Most members in any given family are convinced that prepping is for dummies. So are we supposed to all of a sudden martyr ourselves for adults that never lifted a finger or spent one dime of their own money to fend for themselves? Maybe I’m twisting scripture but Christ said those that do My Father’s will are my brothers and sisters (family). So anyone past the age of twelve that isn’t prepping is not part of my family and will be treated accordingly. In closing, keep in mind that the Eastern mentality will never show any mercy whatsoever. They are for copious amounts of blood. Excellent article and thanks

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  2. SnakePlisken June 15, 07:57

    I’m a diabetic ( type 2 ) with a very beat up body from 30 + years of hard work as a carpenter and millwright so I’m not going anywhere fast in a SHTF situ.

    I do have a bug out location that would require me and the dog to hike 7 miles to the farmhouse. Not too sure I could make it.

    Please leave me behind. Take whatever supplies I have stashed but leave me with enough water and food to last a couple months.

    I may be that living/breathing armed decoy to buy time for my loved ones to escape the Golden Horde.

    I often tease my best friends and family that when I can no longer care for myself that I will await the next big blizzard, get drunk on Bourbon, take off my clothes, grab my Bible and wander off into the blizzard for animals to find my carcass during a spring thaw.

    Somewhat maudlin right? Not really. I’m returning my body back to nature for benefit.

    I don’t want to be a burden upon those who are younger, healthier and have an opportunity to carry on my DNA because I sacrificed for them.

    Nope, I’ll wave goodbye to those I care for from my home and prepare for the fight to come and encourage them to get the hell out while they can.

    Would I leave somebody behind in a SHTF scenario? Yep, I sure would. Sounds harsh doesn’t it?

    I would leave a person behind who has special needs, super elderly or medical needs that a group on the move cannot ensure survival of that person and would put the group as a whole in danger.

    Obviously, a decision to leave a person behind is agonizing and mind bending. we’ve seen this psychological Catch 22 for thousands of years. No matter how pragmatic a person is if we have a soul ( I’m sure we do) then there is a lot of sleep to be lost.

    The ancient Spartans and our own Native Americans would take a child with genetic defects or other physical problems and place them on a hilltop for the animals or elements to kill them.

    Having said that, life is precious. The lifetime of learning and experiences from people around us have tremendous value and needs to be tapped and that age old knowledge applied for survival. This is tribal knowledge at it’s very best! Take that information and apply it to your survival.

    I realize that leaving behind a loved one who is afflicted with any number of ills is gut wrenching but to me, the continuation of a healthy and viable group of humans is critical.

    I have loved hard, fought hard, lived through the best of times and the worst, am a man of my word, pay my debts, treat every human as my brother/sister and am awed by how well the good Lord has blessed me and mine.

    Although I prefer not to go quietly into the night, I am satisfied that I have done the best I could and my ancestors would be proud.

    Should things go bad, leave me. No hard feelings!

    Best,

    Snake Plisken

    Reply to this comment
    • E. T. June 15, 21:30

      Snake, I feel ya brother! Your comment was heart felt and realistic in my opionion, and reflects my outlook. Although I have no physical problems (that I am awhere of) as of yet, and I am a loner lookin at 60 and presently manage to do the work of a pair of average 30 year olds. But in a SHTF senerio, all that I have invited to join me and stand their ground at my place that must bug out from their location (providing they can make it here) are fully informed they are to carry on and survive, and not to concern theirselves with me if by chance I’m unable to be a contribution to them other than my location and supplies. I would rather have my kids and grandchildren carry on the family DNA than to me see any of them get injured or worse because of attempting to care for me! I’ve lived a full life (God willing with plenty more to come) and my greatest desire is for my children and grands do the same…

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    • Rick554 June 15, 22:47

      Amen Brother

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  3. Chainshot June 15, 11:57

    I’m staying put unless it’s nature ( flood , storm , fire )that forces me out and then I’m leaving before leaving gets cool. Wife and I are both experienced outdoors people , hunting, fishing , trapping etc but we are not gonna be out in the woods , worrying about crazies shooting at sounds , packs of thieves , and madness in general. Lots of the preppers that bug out will find their “secluded hideaway” already occupied when they get there. Got a friend that has his bug out location all set up and it’s only about 20 miles away. Put your pack on and walk 20 miles thru the swamp , across a river and in 95 degree weather. Not for me. We’re hunkering down , keeping quiet and letting the flow go around us. Yes, we are ready to defend the fort if necessary , but if we survive the first week there will be thousands less people to deal with. Remember , 3 to 4 days with no water , adios. How many city folks do you know that can hike a week and survive ? Oh yeah , I have two years combat experience and can pull the trigger if necessary. Final word …… to each his own , good luck and bless us all.

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  4. Wazza June 15, 13:58

    Will be staying put, too many injuries and Spinal stuff, Wife is the same, if we go down we go together, I could never live with myself for leaving a family member behind, it would be the not knowing what is happening to them that would destroy me, just how I feel
    We do have faith and that is what would carry us through even if death does come. Would tell the family to go of course, Grandchild must survive as well as her Mum and Dad, and our Son would have to leave, he would be better off protecting them than the Son in law.

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  5. bob barton June 15, 15:03

    The Nietzsche theory will take over,so be well aware of your own capabilities before making decisions.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Step by Step June 15, 15:18

    Thank you for all who have put down their thoughts. Many of us just do not know what we would do.
    The Donner Party left behind an elderly man on the trail before they were in the mountains. History does not even record his name but he must have seen the situation and understood his sacrifice.
    Once people are in a secure location, the benefits of having a calm older person with spiritual leadership is huge but the getting there is an issue. Some of us have already gone through events which give us a taste of the future with our society already changing so quickly. People with our same DNA may already be quite hostile if they follow the elitist approved media and would be dangerous to have around. The Bible speaks of our true family being those of like belief, not genetically connected. I am older and not in tip top shape but I have seen how the functionality of the group works more efficiently if there is an older person who has been an anchor point in the past is available during a crisis point. The other option is for those leaving to have some memento of that older person, who was the anchor point in the past. The travelers can look at that memento and achieve strength from it. For those of us who are not in the best of shape, knowing that our next generation has been given the best chance can give us the resolve to not look out for our own benefit and we can send them on with a prayer.
    So much for all of us to consider and depend on God’s grace for.

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  7. Sarge June 15, 15:36

    We would be staying put since we both are racked with arthritis and have nothing around us but very rough, hilly terrain. The only other family I have is a brother who is too far away to retrieve in an SHTF situation. He lives in a big city, doesn’t drive and not in the best of health so he would probably be a statistic before we could get there even if the roads weren’t blocked by stalled traffic or worse. I doubt that he would leave anyway so we would be wasting valuable time on him. Time that could be better spent fortifying our location and helping our neighbors with theirs.

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  8. Stormluvr June 15, 16:38

    I feel I am the “anchor” person for this venture, but no one, absolutely no one in my family thinks this will ever happen and they do not even want to hear about it. I am the one with the information, the research, some supplies, the knowledge, and the “want to live” attitude. Everyone else says if it is that bad, I’ll just die because I don’t want to hurt anyone else so I can live. I am not young, healthy, or even prepared, but mentally, I want to live. I believe in God and heaven and I don’t want to hurt anyone either. But I would like to be able to stay safe. I don’t know if I could do it alone, or if I would want to by myself. Wish I knew a few other Preppers close to me for moral support and just in case it all goes south.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Step by Step June 15, 17:15

    For those who are currently dealing with health issues, it may be helpful to reassess the treatment methods used. I have seen health improvements once the medication effects are researched and the doctor advising the negative medications changed to a better informed one. The changes I have seen are for a couple of people in their 70’s and even one in her 90’s.

    Reply to this comment
  10. B June 15, 18:34

    I am 68, overweight, diabetic and an atheist and I would be the first one to volunteer to stay behind with a cup of water to swallow my “pills.” Survival of the fittest is old, true and means just what it says for a reason. However, I am a reasonably well-prepared prepper and would hand over everything to a group or person that could continue the human species. I still think we are pretty terrific and I live with hope for us all.

    Reply to this comment
  11. T-town June 16, 01:40

    I would not leave any of my loved ones behind alone. If a love one is putting the group at risk, then I stay back with that person. I am the mom and the grandmother so I am fine with it.If I happen to be the one putting the group at risk, then I am fine with being left by myself, in fact, I would insist. Maybe the decision to leave someone behind is based on your own place or age in the group. I just know, I would die of a broken heart leaving any of my precious family behind.

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  12. mtnplanner June 16, 17:07

    In disasters, people most often survive in groups. In disasters, 75% of all rescues are accomplished by friends and families before ‘first responders’ ever arrive. Individuals, for whom no one is looking, perish.

    Do you want to be part of the 75% who will save their loved ones, or part of the 25% who are more likely to toss everyone else out of the lifeboat to save themselves? While I prefer to be a rescuer, I’d hope some friend would be prepared to go out on a limb to rescue me if the need arose, not just cross my name off as expendable because of my age, gender, or general health. FEMA already does that.

    In a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI event advance preparation is likely to mean squat. If you survive the initial event, your motivation will be to find family members and friends and group up.

    So if you really want to survive the end of the world, your best bet is to make more friends and strengthen family ties. Without friends or family your odds of survival are low as you become the expendable stranger.

    If you don’t value other people’s lives, there is no reason they should value your life enough to take any risks for you. Improve your survival odds – make friends. Become part of the 75%. Become someone who cares.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Bob in Florida June 16, 20:24

    When my wife and I retired and moved to Florida we considered our ability (or lack thereof) to be ‘bugging out.’ We came to the conclusion that at 70+, and with her recently developed back problems, our days of throwing a bug out bag on our backs, and slogging overland to a bug out location, are pretty well done.

    We therefore situated ourselves where weather is not severe (hot, cold, dry) enough to be the challenge to survival; we are in a semi-rural area where crops and livestock are, and can be, grown under most foreseeable situations; water is, and should remain, relatively accessible; and with food and material supplies stockpiled, we plan to ‘Hunker in place’ as long as we can hold out and protect ourselves and what we have.

    Our defenses are not negligible and whoever plans to take what we have will pay a steep price for whatever they manage to get.

    If the emergency that arises happens to be ‘governmentally-inspired’ where there is no way we would prevail, we will become some of the first to make a stand and, if necessary, become the ‘standard of resistance’ for others to emulate.

    If it is just my wife and myself at the time (which is the most likely scenario), there is no question – neither will leave the other behind. We will hunker down together, stand together, and, if necessary, go down together. If there are others with us at the time, the younger, more fit, may be able to escape – we have decided that we will not leave and can, perhaps, buy them some time.

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    • Anna June 17, 05:53

      I admire you deeply.

      Reply to this comment
    • LoisAnneMT July 27, 14:31

      I too came to Florida from Montana to increase my odds of survival as regards to the climate. I am not very mobile, have back and health issues. Settling here in a small rural town means a much longer growing season and at least 90 miles from any major metropolitan city. Family help will not be an option as they are 2500+ miles away. I know I will not be able to bug out and therefore am preparing to bug in as long as possible. While it is nice to think I would not leave anyone behind, in reality, I would be the one left. I accept that but will go down fighting.

      Reply to this comment
  14. texgranny June 21, 19:24

    I’m 63 female with a very bad knee, I can hardly walk a full day without being laid up for days. When I die I know where I’m going. I will not stop my family because of me. NO matter how much they don’t want to. Once they leave I will not be a victim . I will take a huge over dose of Potassium HUGE. and some pain pills if I have them. I will not allow myself to spill the beans on where my family is. I don’t look at it as suicide, but to protect my family… as in give my life for there’s.

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